Home schooling students who want to take GCSE qualifications (which usually last two years, and in schools culminate in exams usually taken at the age of 16, in school year 11) have several options to consider. While the school norms for GCSEs are outlined above, GCSEs can in fact be taken at any age, and while some home schooled children do decide to take these exams at 16, many decide to take one or two GCSE subjects per year from the age of around twelve or thirteen up to whatever year they decide to stop, perhaps continuing on to an A Level syllabus, or opting for vocational qualifications, or deciding not to take any further examined qualifications.
At 16 some home schooled students may alternatively decide to enrol at a college – either part time or full time – to take GCSEs, that is, to end their fully home schooled education. The latter option is most often selected when home schooled students require a particular qualification for a certain career or university course.
GCSE Examination Boards are not all the Same
Parents of home schooled children who are looking at taking GCSEs should be aware that not every examination board will cover the same subject, or have the same requirements. With literature subjects, for example, boards will set different texts in their syllabi, while some boards will include coursework as part of their examination requirements but others may not.
These issues should all be researched before embarking on a GCSE course. This information can be found in most GCSE text books, but some are board-specific so be careful about buying these (and in fact many libraries stock a large variety). Another good place to look is revision guides, which tend to provide information on the which boards ask for coursework, exams, oral examinations, etc. Past papers, available in high street book shops as well as online and from the examination boards direct, are another way to gauge which board’s GCSEs you wish your child to take. There is usually a fee for these, however, so you may want to look at some online or wait until after a course decision has been made before purchasing them.
GCSE Coursework and Home Schooling
For many students coursework is a popular option as it lessens the importance of single examinations and can lead to reduced levels of stress (some marks are already ‘in the bag’ so pupils may worry less about making a mistake in an exam.) Coursework may include things like art or design and technology projects, essays, question responses or similar written work; it is carried out during the year in which GCSEs are studied and the marks from the coursework go towards a student’s final grade.
Coursework can be difficult to arrange for a home educating teacher, however, as it must be marked by a neutral person and some boards have rules about who that person can be, his or her qualifications, etc. It is best to look into this before embarking on a GCSE course which includes coursework; another option is to take International GCSEs, IGCSEs, which do not have coursework components.