Sunday, 15 March 2015

GCSE's home ed style

It's quite some time since I sat my GCSE examinations and back then I do recall not really working too hard for them. I kind of assumed that all would just fall into place. How wrong! It may have been due to the fact that my entire life and being focused on gymnastics, but what I do recall is that I had a feeling of true awakening once I had flunked the majority of them. An awakening that drove me forwards and ensure that second time around things would work out.
As I look back now, I wonder if I just wasn't mature enough the first time? Or perhaps it was that I hadn't been surrounded but the right kind of stimulation? Who knows......

One of the many questions that people often ask when they find out that I home educate my children is 'What will happen when it comes to exams?' (That is of course once they have almost died on the spot at the thought that we actually don't do much in the way of 'school' and have....FUN in our days!)
The truth is that 'yes' our children like those who attend school can also study for and sit GCSE examinations. Generally students actually take iGCSE's (that's the international version that doesn't have the coursework element).  Home educated children either study with a tutor usually in small groups in the comfort of ones home, through one of the many on line providers out there or at home by themselves usually using the exam boards student course book.
Often these children have very little prior knowledge of the subject having not formally had classes in the subject area before.
Last September, Miss P decided that she might like to give her first iGCSE a try. She chose geography as the subject as a lovely fellow HE parent was planning to run a course. In those early days, Miss P found the lessons and studying all rather confusing and the homework......goodness! It took US forever!! After a few weeks she seemed to experience a similar kind of awakening to that which I had experienced (several years earlier). It seemed that overnight everything seemed to fall into place.
The beauty of home education is that you can choose to study the subjects you want and you can also start formal GCSE's earlier than you might if you were in school. We've chosen to spread the courses over three years, just because we can really.
The other thing that was pointed out to me last week, is that in the school environment you engage in study of say ten or eleven courses often not knowing what you want to do. 'You buy the ticket to an unknown destination'. As home educators, we chose our destination first and then buy our tickets, i.e if we only need five grades to get somewhere then we only take five courses. This takes the pressure off and means that we can spend any extra time doing the things we enjoy.
The downside of course is, that we have to pay for everything ourselves.
Not all home educated children choose to take GCSE's, some still get into university based on their interests and interview alone - inspiring!

It is true in life that if you want something in life, you will do everything in your power to get it, that includes your choice in career.
In my own life I always wanted to be a teacher. Having flunked my GCSE's initially and then going on to pass only one A Level, I wasn't going to university without re-sitting or going through clearing. I didn't do either but still followed my dream and qualified to teach as a Montessori teacher through two amazing establishments. In all fairness, I probably wasn't ready to face the world at 19, I had to find my way through alternative routes.

Miss P currently wants to study fashion design in Banbury. She loves creating garments and is becoming a dab hand with the sewing machines :-)

Several of my friends are running courses starting around Easter, (English, Physics, Combined science (double award), Environmental Management), if you're interested for your child then please make contact and I'll point you in the right direction. Another friend is running courses in English, English Lit and Art History. They're live home study courses that are delivered weekly via the internet. Check out dreaming spires home learning, she also offers GCSE revision crammer courses.

You're never too young or old to learn!

Ed note: I have just been reminded of the very informative Wiki site that is an valuble source for anyone wanting to take their GCSE's at home. It might also be good for those doing them in school as there is quite a bit of information on support resources, find it here HE exams.


  1. Such a helpful post when we're all panicking about our teens right now! Thanks!

  2. It's good to read about different families who have done exams from home - ed. There is a great online support community for home educators approaching qualifications, and a wiki with information about IGCSEs, finding exam centres etc -

  3. Yes Angela, the Wiki site is brilliant and very informative :-)

  4. We are doing IGCSE this year, but have left it later, due to now needing particular subjects.