7. Factor in the 2020 scenario
2020 has been a nightmare year for home educating families whose children were due to sit exams. The reality was that for large numbers of students who were studying independently (i.e. not with a teacher or a reputable online or distance learning provider) their route to an IGCSE this summer was blocked because they were not able to create a portfolio of evidence that was acceptable to the exam board; compelling them to sit exams at a later date. And this is the rub – at this moment in time we simply don’t know when that later date will be. We would envisage that by the summer of 2022, exams will be back to normal; however, as of this moment, nobody can say the same about exams in the summer of 2021. Be prepared to be flexible, especially if you are considering doing IGCSEs in 2021.
8. Find a curriculum provider that genuinely supports home educators
The summer of 2020 has also highlighted that not all online curriculum providers are as interested in supporting home educators as perhaps they should be. Some certainly went the extra mile to help build up portfolios of evidence to enable entries to be submitted. The truth is that others virtually closed their doors and said they could do nothing. Some offered to help for exorbitant fees. In addition, there is even one online school that actually reports all home educating families who enrol with them to their local authority as part of their safeguarding policy!
9. Do your research
There is no way around it – preparing children for IGCSEs is time consuming and demanding. First and foremost – before you do any ‘teaching’ you really should spend time looking at syllabuses and past papers, checking out textbooks, and even speaking with local colleges and six forms about the next stage and what is required to gain access. It is not easy, but become familiar with the language of examinations and exam boards.
10. Talk to people who have done it before
Home educators have been preparing their children to sit exams in the UK for over forty years. Talk to people who have done it before and ask them questions. Find out what it was really like. Do try to find some who went through the process years ago – they will bring a sense of perspective which those who went through it recently may not yet possess.
11. Do it your own way
In all of your research and discussions with others, remember that every child is different. What worked for those people that you spent time with, may not work for you. Choosing to go in a different direction is not being rude to them or even suggesting that you disagree with them. Ultimately you have to adopt an approach to IGCSEs that is going to work for your family. Don’t compare your family with others, especially with others who seem to have got it all together and all of their children are heading towards Oxford or Cambridge!
I guess that above all, as parents we have this lurking fear that we will make a mistake and that our children will suffer as a result. When we look back at our home education adventure, the truth is that we made mistakes. Possibly the most wonderful thing about the British education system is that there is always more than one way to get from A to B. Other countries do not have the flexibility that is built into our system. What this means for us, is that if we accidentally go down a blind alley, our children are still likely to find a way to get from A to B, even if it might involve going via C or even D as well! In the end, we do the best that we can for them. And, even after 30 years of working in education, I am more convinced than ever that ‘the best’ involves instilling in them a love of learning for its own sake and a willingness to take ownership of their education.