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If it is decided to pursue formal qualifications there are several options available to you. However, at present you are responsible for paying for, as well as organising, any qualifications you wish your child to pursue. This can become expensive as well as quite daunting.

When considering qualifications it is very important to consider what they are going to be used for. Not all qualifications are universally accepted or accorded equal status amongst colleges, universities and employers. For instance, if your child hopes to take a particular course at university it is essential to check which qualifications are accepted for that course.

It is well worth looking through the information provided by some of the Home Education organisations and below are just a few of the discussions you may find useful:

These are usually the first things that come to mind when thinking of children’s qualifications and indeed many home educated children successfully pursue these. However, many GCSEs include an element of coursework, which can be great if a child does not perform well under formal exam conditions but unfortunately the work has to be independently assessed, introducing further cost. IGCSEs (International GCSEs) were developed for overseas students and are sometimes used by home educated families.

It is important to note that GCSEs and IGCSEs can be taken at any age and, unlike school educated children, your child can take them as and when you feel they are ready to do so. A look at revision guides, workbooks and, especially, past papers or mock exams may help in deciding when to go for particular exams.

Some schools (but by no means all schools) may be able to offer help for ex-pupils intending to take GCSEs, particularly if they were on-roll at any time during Key Stage 4.

Information about taking GCSE and IGCSE exams as a private candidate can be found at these links:

Other Qualifications
GCSEs and IGCSEs are by no means the only qualifications available and you may decide that they are not as appropriate as some of the other options such as ASDANs or the Ingots computer qualifications.
ASDANs are modular accreditations gaining recognition for a variety of activities. ASDAN qualifications are increasingly gaining recognition and their CoPE level 4 certificate counts as 70 UCAS points for university / college entrance.


INGOTs are International Grades in Open Technologies. From very basic ICT these courses progress to GCSE equivalent and are completed by a mixture of home study and attendance at a training centre. The Birmingham Education Otherwise group are authorised trainers for INGOTs.


Distance learning, College and Night School Courses
Distance learning (or 'correspondence courses') is an option chosen by many home educating families as it provides a ready made structure and curriculum with pre-determined, measurable learning outcomes (the very reasons it is not chosen by others). There is a huge variety of courses available, delivered by very many organisations. Cost varies between courses and between providers and it is a good idea to check what is included in the price (eg: books, other materials, coursework, assessments, tutors and exam centre fees). Two providers sometimes used by home educators are the National Extension College and Oxford Home Schooling, but these are by no means the only ones available. It would always be useful to talk to others who have tried distance learning.

The organisation below may also be of help in finding suitable courses and providers:

  • The Open and Distance Learning Quality Council
    An independent body which accredits courses. They will provide a free leaflet listing approved organisations and their courses;
    Tel: 020 7612 7090
    Email: info@odlqc.org.uk Web: www.odlqc.org.uk

The Open University (OU), for people aged 16 or over, may be an option. For example, OU runs a range of 'Openings' courses which have no entry requirements and which can count towards an eventual degree. Children under 16 may be able to take OU courses but only with the agreement of their 'Young Applicants Team'.


Further Education Colleges may take under 16s at the discretion of the Principal. Parents will probably have to pay the full cost of the course and an adult may be required to attend with the child.

There are some, less formal courses, that your child may complete that have no recognised qualifications attached. Perhaps dry stone walling or pottery, for example, at an outdoor activity centre. In these cases keep your own records. There may be a certificate of attendance or achievement and you could always ask the person in charge of the course to write a brief note about your child’s successes. This can all go towards building a picture of your child’s education and this could be useful at interviews for jobs, college or university.

Further Education colleges in Birmingham