Do home educated youngsters need GCSEs?

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]

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16 responses to “Do home educated youngsters need GCSEs?

  1. I totally agree with you. I think that employers have more sense than just to obsess about GCSEs. Other qualities are surely much more important. I know they would be for me.

    • As I already have two adult children who have been employedwithout gcse English I would have to say yes. And as their CVs show they have been good at their jobs surely that’s more important than a silly gcse.
      It’s mad/

  2. You wrote: “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.”
    This is absolutely NOT TRUE! I don’t know who you spoke to at the OU, but neither we, nor the other families we know who use the OU, have ever been told this, nor is it ANYWHERE in any of the OU information. I know several people with OU degrees who do not have a GCSE English or equivalent.
    You will probably want to confirm this yourself, but it also does not seem to be a hard and fast rule for other Uni admissions. It’s worth ringing admissions officers in places you may want to apply for, to check what their attitude might be. Also worth pressing the point that GCSEs are expensive and difficult to take, and OU courses would have been taken by the applicant. Foreign applicants have alternative qualifications and are still admitted and gain degrees!
    As for employers, I wonder whether an independent minded, hard working, self motivated, ex home ed child would be happy in an organisation which couldn’t see past box ticking to the real individual.

    • Interestingly Iona wasn’t told this last time she signed up with the OU. I wonder if the woman she spoke to this time just presumed she would need it, because this is what gets touted around educational circles.
      With the papers constsntly telling us that gcses are barely worth the paper they are written on…it just becomes so confusing.

  3. you wrote 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.

    you are right my wife finds this when interviewing kids who have left school or college many of them have no idea how to speak to a customer common sense the issue of time keeping many have no idea that 8.30 am means turn up an be ready for work! and as for taking intructions she said it be easy if i just do it myself!
    its got be something to do with the tick boxing which takes place at school! very few of them can think on the go! and just get on with the job in hand!

    • The people who employed my son for two years had the same problems with other kids they had taken on. They were very relieved to get someone who could be trusted to open up, close up and even run the whole chabang when the oweners were away.
      Now he has left they have to close up when they aren’t there. Sad.

  4. Thank you for raising this, Mum of Six. Would be really interested to hear if you do hear anything more about the OU/English GCSE situation.

  5. Have you all seen what Lord soley has wrote about home education?
    I have to return to this subject as I am sure it will resurface when the House comes back in October. Indeed it may come back when the Commons returns in September

    Those many well meaning people who wrote voracious comments on this a few months ago do need to look at the report on the death of Khyra Ishaq. the Report stated “The mother’s sound knowledge of home education legislation and a hostile and aggressive approach influenced and affected professional actions, preventing a full understanding of conditions within the home and seemed to render professionals impotent, thereby directing the focus away from the welfare of the children”.

    It would be just too easy to blame the social workers for this. There is a problem if parents know they can take their children out of school without further intervention by anyone. The more home education spreads the greater the danger. If we are to have a successful home education sector then there does need to be regulation. I remember saying at the time of the previous debate that any future government was likely to return to this. The case of Khyra Ishaq makes my point with cruel clarity.

    does he know something is a foot with home education? new laws by Gove?

    • Oh Lord Soley. I still haven’t forgotten his remarkable view on the joys of being bullied at school.
      His views on poor Khyra Ishaq don’t surprise me. Social Services can’t be blamed because they were so Labour-ish in how they worked. You know the approach- do nothing and blame someone else when it all goes wrong.

      I can’t see where Gove is going to find the money to come after us- but who knows what goes on in the corrupt halls of Parliament and the pubs around the area.

  6. I find it hard to believe that, while throwing thousands and thousands of people out of their local authority jobs while pleading poverty, that the present government would have a stash of money on hand to register/monitor home educators. It makes no sense at all.

  7. Did you know Waterloo road on the BBC is runing a story about home education the 2 children have a week to see if they like the state school! the father is against the childre nbeing at school but the mother wants them to go! this show is watched by millions of people why is the BBC shwing this now?

    • The BBC have made it very clear in how they have reported on HE and how they have ever treated it, that they hate the idea.
      I have to wonder about people who spend their time watching the guff, I really do.

  8. The BBC have made it very clear in how they have reported on HE and how they have ever treated it, that they hate the idea.
    I have to wonder about people who spend their time watching the guff, I really do.

    I agree with you but i wonder why its being shown down does it fit in with Lord soley outburst about HE? sometimes these programmes story lines are put out in advance to soften up public view over issues! is Gove going to be tamping with HE Law he said ‘to see what changes need to be made to the existing arrangements’. Not’if’ such changes need to be made. This is big change from his earlier statements, where he suggested that it might be necessary to aleter the existing arrangements.

    The BBC programme Waterloo road is watched by millios of viewers and is in its sixth year of bening shown it is a very popular programe and has been saved from any cut backs by the BBC!

  9. Pingback: The great University and fee question. | Thinking Love, No Twaddle

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