Academically it makes perfect sense to opt, if one can, for the IGCSEs- they are undoubtedly more rigorous and demanding than the GCSEs.
For many home educators there is no other option- the IGCSEs do not require course work (or controlled assessment) and so they are solely exam based. In some areas it is possible to study GCSEs and then arrange for a controlled assessment at an exam centre but they are quite a rarity and usually the simplest choice is to turn to the IGCSE route...
For a majority of home educators then, as they are more in depth, a student will often end up sitting slightly less of these exams than had they done GCSEs. Or it could be the fact that at school so many of the GCSEs are modular (in parts) that they tend to squeeze in as many subjects as possible. It is not unusual for schooled children to attain 12 or even up to 14 GCSEs. (!)
(It does make one wonder why though when some of these 'exams' are in questionable subjects and how useful and valuable they will be in their future lives?)
Still, if there are schooled children applying to colleges/Unis with 12+ GCSES how do the home educated children fare when they leave home ed with 6/7/8 IGCSEs? Will this place them at a disadvantage?
Plus, how does a parent deal with a child who may not manage with sitting exams as well as others? This may place the child at a sore disadvantage and one can then see how much easier really the whole school system is with it's modular exams (doing it in parts) and continuous cycle of re-sits...or re-writing assessments...
And, I am now contemplating whether these institutions actually recognise the superior quality of the IGCSEs, and do they even care? Will the home educated student stand a better chance with fewer IGCSEs against multiple GCSEs? Do they take this into account and acknowledge that these courses were harder ?
The other question which has been playing on my mind is the whole exam 'experience'.
Chatting to a dear friend the other day, she was explaining how many exams and tests her children have been placed through being at school. She claimed one of the only positive aspects of school was that it does prepare the student for exams. If children are being tested as young as 7 (many home educated children have't even begun formal lessons by then!) and then again through out the year, at the end of primary school, and then so on into GCSEs, it is plain to see that schooled children will have an advantage of at least being more comfortable with the whole exam experience, and therefore, may 'perform' better.
I am not claiming this to be a good revelation or something to be considered and as Catholic home educators the fundamental reason we keep our children out of school is to protect their God given soul. Nothing can ever be more vital than this. So no matter how many times I am taunted by the idea that my children may be poorer performers in exams only through lack of experience, of course, or be at a disadvantage against their schooled peers in the exam arena, it is of no real consequence when the life of their soul, their moral character and their innate love of the Holy Catholic Faith can be better preserved and protected at home.
May the Holy Family pray for all Catholic families as they strive to educate their children in this world!