Since writing on alternatives to IGCSEs, and even University, I have become mildly obsessed with finding out more! My mind is full of questions- what else is there for our children?
I have to confess that it has a particular interest for me as well as both my older children are interested in the forces and nursing respectively.
Although they are both academically very able they are questioning the real point of University unless it will enhance their chances in their chosen career, or indeed, be a necessity.
Just last night we had an spirited discussion with Ben, who is now nearly 17 and just completed four demanding AS subjects, all in a matter of about 6mths studying (completely senseless - they are changing A level format next year back to the traditional 2yr course with the final exams at the end, although Ben will not benefit from this). Being in school has been quite a positive experience for him on some levels, but it has made him even more aware of the question 'what is this all for?'.
During our discussion I was quite impressed by Ben's obvious ability to think and question. Although he chose to do A levels in a sixth form he is now asking if he truly needs and desires to go to University? He is fortunate as he has some idea of what he would like to do, and he has begun to ask himself some worthy questions as to the true reason for him going to University.
Another discovery yesterday was coming across a long distance learning college, the NCC Home Learning, that offers all different diplomas for students to learn from home.
The subject scope is quite overwhelming are...ones we would never consider at all ('smallholding management', 'equine science'?!) to ones which quite appealed to Ben such as Criminology and Forensic Science.
His thoughts are if he seriously considers say the police force then surely a couple of diplomas in criminology and forensics will add to his knowledge and learning ? (More so than a University degree in Law even or beforehand?)
And again for my daughter who is now 15. She is studying IGCSEs, yet detests the stress of exams and with IGCSEs they are solely exam based.
She works voluntarily at a wonderful special needs school near our home. This was originally for her Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award, but she fell in love with the children and the work, and goes there all day on a Thursday.
She has considered applying there full time at just 16yrs old, but she is aware that if she wants to become a paediatric nurse a degree is almost imperative. (Nursing is no longer truly vocational!)
The NCC offer a large range of diplomas in special needs and child care. Marie e-mailed them and asked about the age requirements and was told students as young as 15yrs can apply.
Like BTECS, these diplomas can be studied at 14/15yrs offering more avenues for our children on their own or alongside IGCSEs/A levels.
Just a point to remember though; they are an accredited college and so recognised by colleges/Unis etc but do not give UCAS points (University points).
Researching other avenues of education and training is worthwhile for all our children. Even if our children are highly erudite and well read they may choose a vocational style career which requires skill and expertise. It is terribly sad that the traditional apprenticeship type of course is so hard to find nowadays as one could learn and master a skill which was useful and essential within society.
I long for all my children to follow their heart as well as their head when it comes to future employment. Course like BTECs and the NCC programmes offer very practical and appealing life skills as well as some academic learning and I think they are well worth considering.
(The NCC, like many others, also offers A levels and IGCSEs, creative writing courses and even Law course!)
What do you think?