As a first post I thought it might be helpful to look at the education system and how we, as Catholic Home Educating families, can 'survive' it. This blog is dedicated to supporting those who may choose or have chosen to follow the UK system instead of an alternative one (namely a Catholic curriulum which are mostly American).
I always envisaged when my children arrived at the the age to sit exams that they would only take the bare minimum and continue with their other, more important and essential, education. A kind of 'two-tier' education which was very clear within my mind but has been harder to provide for my eldest son.
From the little experience I do have as a Catholic Home Educator trying to work the system I would say it is possible to achieve IGCSEs and continue with extra courses such as Classics, Greek, Catechism, Theology. However this seems only truly attainable when one has plotted how many exams the child can take on board at once with the extra work.
My (humble) advice would be to not take more than four IGCSEs at one sitting (especially if you are considering the extra, more important subjects). Home educated children nearly always study the courses in far less time than is usual. A typical IGCSE course is two years long but many HE children are finished in three months! Of course this is not really ideal as the subject will not be absorbed as deeply as one would desire and they certainly will not become masters of that subject. It is much more pressuring to take on two year's worth of study in a matter of a few months.
Why are we even contemplating the UK system? I think one has to come to the agreement that all these exams are stepping stones to further education and give the child some sort of grounding in a particular subject that they can then use to achieve other goals. Most parents would desire their children to love to learn, to master certain subjects and to be taught to think, analyse, argue and discuss for themselves. I would say this is the crux of true education and one which cannot be found within our schools or doing a handful of exams at home. Therefore one has to have in mind the reason why they're taking these exams and the benefit to the child.
I hope this is of some help towards clarifying why some choose the IGCSE route. It is possible to sit some very traditional subjects, such as Latin (one can choose the Literature and the language sections), Greek, Mathematics, English Literature, Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy.
I'd love to hear of any one else's experiences with juggling exams and other courses...please send in lots of comments and discussion!