Daily Archives: October 23, 2009

Select Committee: Money and exams. Do Home Educated children need GCSEs?


One of the carrots that has been waved at home ed families has been money.  Would be we happy to be registered, poked and prodded and peered at, if we got some money?

While it has been said that some home educators have approached their LAs looking for proper help. I can’t imagine many have done this as we all know there isn’t any. Nevertheless one of the big bugbares appears to be that many home educators do not have their children do GCSEs, IGCSEs or A’levels because there are no free and local exam centres and the costs are prohibitive. In our case Alex was able to sit his exams locally, but the centre closed. The costs were over £120 per exam. For Iona who did IGCSE Maths the costs were £135 plus over £60 a day for travelling to Bristol and back! I met one mother who had travelled miles for her son’s IGCSE Science exam and had needed to pay for B&B the night before.

Most of us are simply not able to find that kind of money.

During the WED SESSION Douglas Carswell MP (Con) began this conversation:

Q69 Mr. Carswell: I have a general question for the panel. In Clacton, the parents of 16 children have, rightly in my opinion, refused to send their children to a school that they believe is not able to provide the children with a proper education. They have successfully demanded that they receive a home education grant from the local education authority. Is this something that you welcome, and do you think that the sort of extra regulation and oversight demanded by Badman could be conditional on receiving the grant? If you get the grant, you can be overseen by the state, but if you do not, it should leave you alone.

Zena Hodgson: I am from the Home Education Centre, and we were approached by Somerset, who said that it had managed to put aside some sums to assist home educators. It asked whether we would accept it, as they felt that they were not able to give it to individual families, but could give it to a group to spend the money best to benefit as many home educators in Somerset.

Chairman: Zena, you are not answering his question. [Actually she WAS answering the question and I would have liked to hear the full answer. I am fascinated that Somerset were willing to hand money to a home ed support organisation that could be used for genuine help of home ed families. I am especially interested because my time teaching in FE taught me that school money follows the child into college. It should therefore follow the child home shouldn’t it?]


Q70 Mr. Carswell: Would you like a legal right so that home educators could say to the local authority, “It is my money-give it to me now”?

Zena Hodgson: As a family?

Mr. Carswell: As an individual. My child, my money-give it. [Money per home ed child as in school?]

Zena Hodgson: Yes, I suppose. There will always be things that your children would want to better their education.[Yes the costs are high despite some stuff I’ve read about home ed on a shoe string. Frankly there are costs and some are pretty big ones.]

I noticed that most replies were very very cautious indeed. Fiona was well aware that it was a moot point as the money simply would not be there. Then Simon Webb said:

I live in Essex, so I have an interest in this. I had to pay £120 for every GCSE that my daughter took. It cost me nearly £1,000. I tried to get the money from Essex, but there was absolutely nothing doing. I pay council tax, but I cannot get the services from the education department.

I may be wrong, but although Mr Carswell (who had obviously done his homework about Home education which is way more that David Chaytor had bothered to do) thought there was a possibility of a registered family receiving the money a child would get for school to use as was best for that child, the underlying view was that money should be available for HE children to sit exams.

In the light of this, Here is my question.

Do Home Educated children need to sit GCSEs, IGCSEs or A’Levels?

I am seriously seeking your views on this. I would be equally interested in American, Australian and any other country homeschoolers saying what you think. Do you intend or have you put your children through High School Diplomas or other exams? What for? Do they need them for work applications, University access or other reasons? If you haven’t or don’t intend to-what are your children doing instead?

I am asking because my 15 year old daughter is about getting ready to start Open University courses in Feb next year. She turns 16 in the Jan and the OU have lowered their entrance age to 16. We thought that her chances of doing any degree or getting any kind of work would actually be enhanced by starting a degree at 16 but I have had someone raise concerns that she is not getting GCSEs first. Someone else has wondered whys she wants to stay home educated and not do gcses in college.

My view is that I have very very little money and I want to spend it with care. Iona wants to do the Open Uni courses which over the next couple of years could give her 120 foundation (level 1) points-a third of a degree. Each OU course is about £155 per 10 points. As you can see this is not cheap but I was thinking this was a better reason for debt that GCSEs.

From what I can gather employer organisations and Universities don’t think much of the quality of GCSEs these days anyway.

What do y’all think?