Wednesday, 10 April 2013

What if your child(ren) don't choose to take the IGCSE, A level route?

Not all children in the UK (I hope!) will choose to follow the 'traditional' route of IGCSEs/GCSEs and then A levels, and then, possibly, University...

Some will go on to study a BTEC which is usually more practical and encompasses a selection of subjects yet not as in depth as say A levels. Yet some higher level BTECs, like level 3 and 4 National diplomas are equal to taking three A levels, which is what the average student at 16yrs or older, will study in the UK.

Some Catholic home educators have chosen an entirely different form of education, following the various American 'High School Diplomas', like Kolbe Academy, Thomas Aquinas, Mother of Divine Grace, Our Lady of Victories...the list is many!
They will 'graduate' with a Diploma and then can choose to sit the SATs which are usually taken in America at 17/18yrs and a vital requirement for University.

However, some British home educated children (and their parents) would still prefer to 'keep it British' but do not feel sixth form or college for A levels is appropriate or will suit their child's needs.
And some children (and their parents) reject even the IGCSEs, feeling them to be not necessary for achieving and desire a more autonomous style of education.
(We haven't had the courage or the need to do this yet, however our third child, Samuel, is adamant he will not be entering school/sixth form at 16yrs old...)

The Open University is a fabulous option for many versatile students who wish to remain within the comfort of their own homes, but desire to do something challenging and academic.

All Open University degrees are highly recognised and respected and for home educated children can be very suitable, as they can begin them as young as 15yrs old, therefore bypassing the usual exams, should they wish.

The O.U offers a prodigious variety of courses and one can actually choose which components they have to make up their own degree. One can study anything from Classics to Child care...
There are courses worth 10 points which are short courses, usually completed within three months and can be done alone or alongside the larger 30 and 60 point courses.

When Ben was 14 yrs old he decided to try a OU course in science. At the time he was drawn to forensic sciences hindsight a boy's dream! (Believe me, Ben is many things, but a scientist he isn't!)
He chose a 10 point course, with the helpful guidance of the Young person's applicant team;

They are available to guide and help the student choose the right course best suited for them.
Ben did the 'Medicines and molecules' course and although he found it very tough, he did enjoy it, and (Deo Gratias!) passed.

If your child has any experience with the OU, I'd love to hear their experiences, perhaps they would even write a small piece for the blog?

Finally, I came across this super story of a home educated girl who studied nursing at University having no previous IGCSEs or A levels, so being alternative and approaching the educational system from a different angle can be just as successful and rewarding!

May the Most Holy Family guide our children wisely over all their educational decisions!


  1. Another way of obtaining a degree that is well worth considering as an alternative to the OU is the London university external (or international) programme. Generally, you study independently and then take the exams - though some colleges do offer tuition - so really a high level of motivation and self-organization is needed.

    I see that the OU have recently hiked the fees considerably for students in England - I think on the presumption that students will get loans. They are still relatively low for students from Scotland or Wales. It might be well worth doing a survey of what other places can offer on a part-time or distance learning basis, before plumping for the now more expensive OU.

  2. Thank you for this.
    The O.U have increased their fees tenfold and will undoubtedly put many people off.

    I will look into the London University programme..perhaps another blog post in the making!