I know the question of whether young adults actually need GCSEs gets asked a lot. On the whole I think a lot of HE families are of the opinion that the answer depends on what the child wants to do work and future education wise and whether those things they might need can be taken when they come to cross that bridge.
For many there is also the very real problem that for home educaters GCSEs and IGSCEs cost a massive amount of money. Quite a shocking mark up seems to be made for “private candidates” which leaves many of us paying off those exams for some months. So if we are going to get our children to take these exams they need to be worth it. It’s a bit of a nightmare finding places within sensible travel distance that will take candidates as well. Perhaps with Michael Gove in charge we might see some changes in this area- but he has such a huge mess to sort out I’m not holding my breath.
My daughter is just starting her second 10 point course at level 1 with the Open University. As she is 16 the OU like to have someone talk her through what will be expected of her for this course. They did this for her last OU course as well and from what I can gather they will continue this very supportive approach until she reaches 18. I am quite impressed. They do not simply take the money and leave the student to sink or swim. If they don’t think a student is up to the work, apparently, they say so.
In her phone interview Iona was told that she would need a GCSE or IGCSE in English at some point if she was going to complete a full degree with the OU or any other University. She has IGCSE in Maths (grade B). I was interested in this advice because it would mean that although her CV would have University level points, including ones in English type subjects, that she would still need to go back and do the IGCSE level. Is that bizarre or what? I am not criticising the OU on this; I am sure they are right. The boxes must be ticked and proving your ability to study at Uni level at the age of 16 doesn’t have a box.
Before we jump in there though and take on more debt, I think we need to see if she really does need it.
My oldest has 12 GCSEs I think (or 13 I lost count) and these haven’t made it any easier for him to get employment or the right kind of degree than his brother who has one IGCSE in Maths (B) and an IGCSE in English (D). He has just finished his BTEC Diploma in Art and Design and has an interview for a job coming up. Bizarrly Labour apparently banned IGCSEs in schools under their control because-get this- they are not compatable with the (laughably awful) National Curriculum!
Iona already has two litte jobs from people who know her well enough know she can be trusted. Would not the fact that her CV already shows she is employed, working at Uni level and has interests outside of “school” hours, stand her in good stead with an employer?
Are employers really still only looking at boxes that are ticked or do they want to ensure someone can actually do the job? I used to short list and interview in my olden days and I remember we were more interested in what they wrote on the back page than the school guff. Perhaps things have changed.
I’ve got to say I have met a lot of the people my kids have been to school, college and Uni with and, with one or two notable exceptions, I would have be paid to employ some of them! I don’t care what boxes of GCSEs they can tick- they don’t have what it takes to hold down a job; speak with custumers; make eye contact; get there on time; listen and get the istructions; use common sense… the list goes on.
I can only imagine that employers who actually want to make money and save it, are more interested in a personable, appropriately dressed and not too heavily metalled person, than some GCSEs of dubious quality.
But I could be wrong.
[ If you want to know what Iona is studying this time click on the Gift of Learning pic above]