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I’ve see a number of articles saying that the Department for Education plans to scrap ‘most’ BTECS. There are objections from a number of prominent people and schools, colleges, universities so hopefully it will be rethought.
The Guardian – The former Conservative education secretary Kenneth Baker has described the government’s overhaul of vocational and technical qualifications at schools and colleges in England as “an act of vandalism”.
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I have been Home educating for 19 years and talk of a register has rumbled on for many of those years. Many Home Educators oppose the idea as they fear that having the Local Authority involved in their children’s education will mean monitoring, target setting, proof of education and loss of the parents freedom to decide about everything to do with their child’s education. Some of the opposite opinions are that it could lead to extra support for those who feel they need it and also pick up any cases of neglect, abuse or child labour.
Personally I think it is inevitable that there will be some kind of register eventually but what it will actually mean for Home Educators is a minefield. The how/what/when questions are endless. I know our Local Authority has always been overwhelmed with work so I’m not sure they could cope very well with such a huge increase in their workload.
I hope that it will be done in a way that parents can continue with the freedom they currently have to meet their child’s individual needs without too much interference and form filling.
UK Parliament Website https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/203/education-committee/publications/
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Tutors & Exams are pleased to announce their examination entry deadline dates for the Exceptional Autumn Series.
Candidates will be eligible to enter for this series if they’ve received a grade this summer or Tutors & Exams reasonably believe they would have entered for the exams in summer 2021, had they taken place.
As in a usual year any student who was aged at least 16 on 31stAugust 2021 can take the GCSE English Language and Mathematics exams.
T&E Entry Deadline Date
Late Fees apply from
T&E Entry Deadline Date
Late Fees apply from
T&E Entry Deadline Date
Late Fees apply from
T&E Entry Deadline Date
Late Fees apply from
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Worrying announcement today from Education Secretary Gavin Williamson. It seems we may be getting closer to having some kind of register of all Home Educators.
Quote from the Evening Standard
Thousands more children being home-schooled in wake of pandemic as Education Secretary Gavin Williamson promises register.
A register of home educated children will be introduced “imminently” the education secretary said on Wednesday.
Speaking to MPs on the education committee, Gavin Williamson said he is “absolutely committed” to creating a register of home educated children and its introduction is “imminent”.
At the moment nobody knows exactly how many children are being educated at home. Committee chair Robert Halfon said the most reliable estimate for England is 75,000, but he said the actual rate could be higher because many local authorities are not confident they know all of the children who are being home educated in their areas.
During the pandemic many more children were taken out of school to be home educated. Mr Halfon said around 20,000 children moved to home education during this time.
Speaking about the register, Mr Williamson said: “it is imminent as to when this will be brought forward. It is incredibly important to ensure that there is that accountability and that monitoring.”
Asked by Mr Halfon if it will be before the summer recess, he said: “It is very very imminent…you are trying to spoil grids here Rob….our commitment to bringing this forward is absolutely clear.”
Mr Williamson said there are no immediate plans to bring in standardisation or assessments for home educated children.
He said: “The quality of home education is incredibly high right across the board….there are a lot of parents who put an awful lot of time effort and resource into it,. The first key step is establishing this register that’s what we will be doing very, very shortly.”
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T&E Exam Centres Announcement
This is really good news for any students requiring some kind of special arrangements for exams. As you may already be aware AWE Home Ed Club is an approved Learning Partner of T&E which means our teachers are approved to submit assessed grades should they be needed. AWE students also receive a discount on their exam entries plus are guaranteed a seat in their chosen exams so no need to worry about exam centres running out of spaces.
This latest announcement from T&E states, Quote: “If a candidate requires any form of testing or service to qualify for additional support in their exams, it will come at no cost to the candidate.”
Here is the full statement.
Free at Point of Delivery Access Arrangements Tutors & Exams is the leading independent private candidate exam centre across the UK. We have unrivalled access to qualifications for all candidates working outside of mainstream education. We have a dedicated team that solely works with candidates with Special Educational Needs as well as a dedicated “NEA’ (Non-Examined Assessment and Coursework) Team and two Exam professionals in each of our five, soon to be six, centres. To celebrate Learning Disability Week and open up our services to more candidates, Tutors & Exams is, with immediate effect, offering Free at Point of Delivery Access Arrangements. This is a huge step in ensuring all candidates outside of mainstream education are able to have the same access to assessments. Tutors & Exams have been working hard towards this since opening in 2014. However, due to costs constraints, this was unachievable until now. In 2020/21 academic year, Tutors & Exams halved its fees for access arrangements which was well received and welcomed by the Private Candidate Community. Free at Point of Delivery Access Arrangements means just that. If a candidate requires any form of testing or service to qualify for additional support in their exams, it will come at no cost to the candidate. The testing is that to fulfil the requirements of the JCQ and Awarding Organisations (typically Form 8 and Form 1 testing) to ensure we have sufficient evidence for them to grant the Access Arrangements. Therefore, if you required testing, mocks to show normal way of working, reader, laptop or any other Access Arrangements provision during your exams, you will pay no more than the prevailing examination entry fee detailed on our website. Terms and conditions do apply and you can find out more by contacting our team and selecting Access Arrangements. Group Managing Director, Jenny Spraggett has said “Since Tutors & Exams was established, we have been committed to ensuring that all Private Candidates receive a service as close to that in a mainstream facility as possible. As a private organisation that receives no funding, this has always been challenging. Being fiscally responsible we are now in a position to offer Free at Point of Delivery Access Arrangements and support more candidates, at no additional cost, with a range of Special Educational Needs. When we halved our fees for Access Arrangements in 2020, the feedback was astounding. We have no doubt that this will now be a ‘game changer’”
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The first day we started Home Educating was a strange one.
08:00 am It started with no uniform. That’s right, you do not have to wear a uniform anymore while learning, have your breakfast.
09:00 am Okay what to do next, let’s not rush into anything and take it all a small step at a time.
09:10 am Right let’s look at the Curriculum and get going from there, Maths, I like Maths so it will be a good place to start.
09:30 am This is going well.
10:00 am You want a break, yes good idea, I need a break as well.
10:20 am WHAT HAVE I DONE? I’ve just wasted 20 minutes of his education. He will never pass Maths IGCSE, we have to catch up NOW!
10:40 am I’m sorry, yes you are not ready for quadratic equations at age 6. Let’s go back to what we learned this morning.
11:00 am IS THAT ALL WE’VE DONE?? It’s been 2 hours since we started. We will have to skip lunch to catch up!
This roller coaster continued, perhaps it was time for sensible wife to plan the lessons…… What? You don’t know what to do either?
There are some wise words at the beginning of the Science Fiction novel The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy – “DON’T PANIC!”
Starting Home Education is a little like the day you bring a new baby home from the Hospital, you leave the wise nurses and Doctors of the NHS behind and take your fragile human being home along with the enormous responsibility of keeping it safe. Turn around, we are going back.
So the first week was dealt with a little trepidation, fear, anxiety, and concern that we were not capable of providing an adequate education for our son. So my wife and I sat down and had a good long chat about how we wanted to proceed.
What were our goals? We started with why we took our son out of School; we had concerns that his time was being wasted and his ability was not being fully capitalised. Okay, we can deal with that; he’s way past Biff and Chip books so anything we teach him at a higher level is an improvement on the School.
What can we learn from our own experiences of School and use to help us? I recanted a story from my School years. I did O level Chemistry, two years trying to learn chemical formulas and the only practical was putting them into a test tube together and watching a litmus paper turn a different colour. I passed (just) but found it so boring. Then on our last day our Teacher said he would show us some fun things. We saw the metal Lithium dance on water and catch fire, a beaker of clear liquid turn instantly dark, oxygen banged, things smoked and foam expanded enormously – why did he leave it to our last day to show us that Chemistry is fun?!
So we decided anything we teach our son must be fun. Yes Algebra may not be everyone’s idea of fun and has to be learned, but we can break it down into small blocks with learning a new Dinosaur in between. If our son got bored with learning one subject, we simply moved on to another.
Another thing we realised is that passing SATS is not for your child’s education (even with all the effort they put in). SATS are used as a measure of the efficiency of the School. Therefore your child is taught how to pass a SAT exam, the School will concentrate on this to get a good mark – for them! Anything outside the realm of a SAT will not be given priority and once the SAT level is achieved for your child, they will move on to those who have not; leaving your child waiting for others to catch up.
There are no such limitations with Home Education, the sky is not the limit! (as we found out when studying Voyager 1 space probe).
We this is going really well, let’s not even bother registering our younger daughter for school.
To be continued….
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Exams update from T&E (Tutors and Exams) – The deadline to apply is now 1st April 2021
“Given the unprecedented demand of applications for Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) and the lack of clarity at this late stage from stakeholders (DfE, Ofqual and Awarding Organisations) regarding the process for grading private candidates, we are suspending entry applications from 23:59, Thursday 1st April 2021. This will allow us time to process entries already received and determine, and put into place, the process by which candidates will be awarded TAGs.
In light of this announcement, and to avoid any disappointment, we strongly advise you to make any entries you were planning to submit via Tutors & Exams without delay. Rest assured we will not be imposing any late entry fees (with the exception of CAIE examinations), despite some Awarding Organisations planning to charge late fees for any entries submitted to them after 21st March. However, we do require payment for any entries you have made with Tutors & Exams by no later than 23:59, 8th April 2021. Please note that failure to make full and final payment by this date will likely result in your entry not being made with the Awarding Organisation and consequently no TAG will be issued.
We hope this statement provides some clarity for you and will keep this decision under review as more information is released by stakeholders.”
If you haven’t made your exam entry yet don’t miss the deadline.
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It appears that exam centres will have choices about how they proceed with IGCSE grading. They will be able to provide unseen test materials that will very similar to exam papers which for students who have been preparing for IGCSE’s expecting a final exam is good news. Whether each exam centre will offer this option is up to them to decide. It will suit those who do not have reams of evidence and don’t have a teacher to submit a grade. I am wondering if students will need to go to their exam centre to sit these tests as they would under normal circumstances.
Pearson update on IGCSE Exam Unseen Test
Unseen test materials for International GCSE and International AS/AS Level
One of the forms of evidence that will be made available is the optional use of unseen test materials. We will send unseen test materials to all centres – teachers and students will be familiar with the style of the materials as they will look like question papers used in a normal exam series. The materials will need to be kept securely, until a specified date, and we’ll provide details of what you’ll need to do in due course – it will be very similar to how you typically deal with exam materials.
These test materials can then be used in two ways; firstly, as unseen materials presented to students in a controlled situation, in a specified timeframe, for them to respond to; or secondly, after the specified timeframe, in the knowledge that they may be familiar to students, used as one part of the evidence that supports the teacher grade – we’ll provide more detail on each of these options in the coming weeks.
To support the use of these unseen materials we’ll be offering an optional marking service where our expert examiners will mark your student responses. We’ll mark the test materials and return a mark to you for your consideration when deriving the student grade. We’ll provide you with support to understand how the mark aligns with performance descriptors so that you can be confident in your understanding of the mark. This will be an optional service and, if you’d prefer to mark the materials yourself, we’ll be providing mark schemes and training materials so that you can do so with confidence.
The approach for this series will be underpinned by a quality assurance process that focuses on helping you to make judgements, based on evidence, that are objective and consistent. There will be several different stages, and we’ll provide an update as soon as we can, but we’re committed to ensuring that it’s supportive and not overly burdensome.
The DfE is currently exploring ways to make sure there are affordable opportunities for private candidates to work with centres, and to encourage centres to work with private candidates. Once the DfE has completed its review, we will be working with other awarding organisations to provide a list of centres offering to support private candidates through the assessment process, including details of the subjects they can offer. We expect this list to be available before the end of March.
We can assure private candidates that they will not need to pay higher entry fees if, as a result of this, they need to make their entry after the extended entry deadline.
We will also be providing further information for centres on how best to support private candidates, including guidance on the selection of assessment evidence. This will be available at the end of March.
Approach for International GCSE and International AS/A Level (May/June 2021 series)
To ensure fairness for all students around the world, we want to ensure parity with our UK qualifications and so will align the evidence-based approach for international qualifications with the approach for UK qualifications, as far as it is sensible to do so.
We also recognise that there are a range of circumstances faced by international schools and we’re committed to providing assessment materials, services, support and guidance to ensure that you can proceed with confidence.
Student grades will be derived by teachers and centres, with support throughout from Pearson. With our support, it will be possible to use a variety of evidence to inform the grade that will be submitted to Pearson.
We want to ensure that you have access to assessment materials that will enable objective and fair judgements to be made about student performance; we’ve also heard from you that you want us to support you in translating evidence-based judgements into grades.
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Update on exams evidence requirements, from The Exams Office 3/3/2021
Here is an article from The Exams Office that describes in more detail how teachers will produce grades. It mentions Private Candidates and says the process will be similar to the school students and will be affordable!
Teachers will be required to make a holistic judgement of each student’s performance on a range of evidence relating to the subject content that has been delivered by their teacher (either in the classroom or via remote learning). Additional information/guidance includes:
• Teachers must assess their students’ performance, only on what content has been delivered to them by their teachers, to determine the grade each student should receive.
• Teachers can use evidence of a student’s performance from throughout the course to inform their judgement.
• Teachers should determine the grades as late in the academic year as is practicable, and not confined to a defined window, to enable teaching to continue for as long as possible.
• Schools and colleges will be required to use a broad range of evidence across the taught content to determine the grades before submitting the grades to the exam boards.
• Heads of centres will have to confirm that students have been taught sufficient content to allow progression to the next stage of their education, although we will not set requirements about the minimum amount of content that students must have been taught.
• Students should continue to work on their non-exam assessment (NEA), including for Project qualifications. NEA will be marked by teachers and will contribute to the overall grade, whether or not is has been completed.
• Teachers should mark the NEA according to the normal mark scheme (in whole or in part, depending on whether students have been able to complete their NEA. • Exam boards will not be required to moderate teachers’ marking of NEA this year.
• In GCSE, AS and A level art and design, the student’s grade must be based on the portfolio only, whether or not it has been completed. students will not be penalised if, due to circumstances beyond their control, they were unable to complete their portfolio.
• In GCSE English language, GCSE modern foreign languages and A level sciences (biology, chemistry, physics and geology), centres will be required to determine and submit a separate grade or result for the endorsement. This result or grade will be based on work that has been completed towards the endorsement. No recordings or separate evidence of performance will be required.
• Private candidates should work with a centre to provide evidence in line with the sort of evidence that other students will produce
• Overall, it will be no easier or harder for a student to achieve a particular grade this year compared to previous years.
Private candidates will be assessed in a similar way to other students, by a recognised exam centre using a range of evidence. DfE is exploring ways to make sure there are affordable opportunities for private candidates to work with centres, and to encourage centres to work with private candidates.
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AWE Private Candidates
It’s bugging me the way children are being labelled as ‘losing out’ and having their life chances affected by ‘lost learning’ due to Covid.
Home Educated children did not stop learning or studying because of lockdown! For example AWE Home Ed went online right at the start of the first lockdown with students not even missing one single lesson. We have not stopped teaching and our students have not stopped learning.
I hope our students exam grades will not be marked down when compared against school children who may have not been so prepared for self study and working at home.
I believe Home Educated children are actually at an advantage as learning at home and taking responsibility for their own learning are skills they will already have.
Our teachers and many parents have been able to accelerate through the syllabus to try to ensure the whole syllabus has been covered earlier in preparation for whatever scheme comes out of the consultation. Many Home Educated children will not have big chunks of the syllabus not covered. Many Home Ed teachers and tutors have been steadily gathering evidence during lessons and with homework so it should be easier than last year for parents to provide portfolio’s of evidence if required by exam centres and for teachers to give predicted grades if qualified to do so.
Just my thoughts!
Exams update for Private Candidates
My advice is don’t take too much notice of all the speculation, opinions and thoughts that are being aired everywhere. The good news is that Private Candidates will have a way to be graded, we have not been forgotten. It sounds like there will be flexibility and options available to make it fair.
Exams centres will be extremely busy and will probably not have all the answers you will be looking for yet. I would just be patient and wait for a few days until there is more detail and your exam centre has had the time to make a plan for Private Candidates.
Regarding private Candidates
I will keep updating this blog as news comes out with more details.
It’s probably not a good idea to contact your exam centre yet. They will be very busy! Wait a couple of days until they have time to tell us what they will be able to arrange for our children sitting as Private Candidates.
There will also be a clear and accessible route for private candidates to work with a centre to receive a grade this year, at the same time as other candidates. Exam boards will provide centres with clear guidance on the evidence they can use to assess a private candidate. A list of available centres will be published shortly and, we are working with the sector to ensure there are sufficient centres available and at a similar cost to a normal year.
More detail to follow as it is released.
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From Tutors & Exams email (I’m quoting the important bits):
Cambridge Assessment International Education Exams 2021
Today, 19th February 2021, we have received notification that Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) Exams 2021 (May/June Series) have been cancelled in the UK. CAIE have said:
“For schools in the United Kingdom, this means that exams for Cambridge IGCSE, O Level, and International AS & A Level will no longer take place. We will say next week how we will enable private candidates to be assessed.”
Tutors & Exams are working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that ALL PRIVATE CANDIDATES have the opportunity to enter into a robust process that can confidently allow them to receive the outcomes they deserve
IMPORTANT: You must still enter for exams as usual!
Parents, you have to enter for the exam through an exam centre to be part of whatever process comes out of the consultation. If you have not entered, your child will not be graded. If you have not done so yet, please urgently contact your exam centre to find out if you can still do so, as there are deadlines!
Meanwhile your children need to be continuing with their studies just the same as if they were going to sit a final exam.
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When my wife came up with the idea of Home Educating my son, I thought she was mad. I was taught from a young age that to get an education you go to school, then College, if you were fortunate University. This ‘Home Education’ thing didn’t fit within that template and what on earth was Home Education anyway?
My son was in his reception year. He was doing well at English and Maths, so well that he finished his daily work early and was just given some drawing to do while the other children in the class caught up. When we found this out, we went to see his teacher. She was nice and agreed that he was advanced for his year and said she would approach the Head of the School to see what could be done.
Nothing happened for quite a while and as we didn’t want our son wasting his time drawing (I’ve nothing against Art, but being given pieces of paper and crayons is not being taught how to draw) so my wife and I made an appointment with the Head for ourselves. I remember the meeting well, here we were telling the Head of the School how to do her job!
The Head admitted that they had no procedure for this situation other than suggesting an after school chess club. Trouble was they didn’t have anyone to run it and would I be interested? We persevered and it worked, our son was duly put up into the next Year 1 for his Maths and English lessons – excellent!
Then came a strange decision which demonstrates the ridiculous bureaucracy of the school system. Our son was reading science books and learning about the world using a daily news item from the Times. However, in order to be allowed to go up to the next year for English, he had to have read the full years Biff and Chip books in his own time at night. This was so they could “tick a box that he had completed them” – a literal quote.
He did very well in his advanced year lessons and all was well, he was happy, we were happy. Then came the end of reception and he was moved up to Year 1. His form tutor changed so we went to see her to ensure that as he had already completed Year 1 of English and Maths, he would be put into Year 2 for those lessons. Unlike his previous tutor who was open to suggestions, this lady had an ‘old school’ mentality and said in no uncertain terms that the previous agreement was not going to be honored and she would have to reassess his abilities right from the start – months of our negotiations were gone in an instant.
So what to do? Well my wife had investigated Home Education and thought it to be a really good idea. Our son was a keen learner and we felt he was wasting his valuable early years. The most difficult part for her was to convince me that we were capable of taking on the enormous responsibility of educating our son and that we could do it on my single income.
She’s a clever thing my wife and she made me think I was in charge, while all the time having made the decision herself. So how to do that? well she said we could give it a go and when things get difficult at secondary school level we will just send him back to school. Okay then, that’s not such a big step, I agree.
We checked the legality of taking him out of the school system, calculated the reduced income and our outgoings, told all of the family (some really weird looks there, how will he get friends and socialise??) and booked a meeting with the same Head of the school to tell her of our decision.
So this time we sat in front of her, not to tell her how to do her job like last time, but to say she wasn’t doing it well enough and we were off! Well we didn’t say it quite like that, but when we explained why she totally agreed with our decision, as did his reception teacher. Perhaps we were doing the right thing then!
So, that’s it then. We are off, brilliant.
Arrrrggghhhhh….. What now!?
Here’s an update from Tutors and Exams regarding Private Candidates.
Summer 2021 Exams Updates
What another extraordinary week for Summer 2021 Exams Updates! We have seen the cancellation of Pearson Edexcel International Qualifications across the world in addition to Cambridge Assessment International Education stating that they are looking at alternative arrangements to exams in the UK.
Are there anymore Summer 2021 Exams Updates? Yes there is. Ofqual have announce (via Twitter) that the outcomes of the joint DfE/Ofqual Consultation will be released week commencing 22nd February 2021. What does this mean for us? It means that we have to wait up to three weeks before we can give you any sort of detail around grading for Private Candidates. We do appreciate that this can add to already heightened emotions and we have passed on our concerns to the DfE and Ofqual. However, we can report that we have had two incredibly productive meetings with both parties, and other stakeholders, to look at the implications of exam cancellations and the possible solutions on Private Candidates.
You will all no doubt be asking why the consultation outcome is due to be announced post Awarding Body Deadline dates? Well, the response is quite straightforward. The consultation received over 100,000 responses. The DfE and Ofqual want to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and will be looking in depth to the responses. They have asked all the Awarding Bodies to “be flexible” with their entry deadline dates. As such, Pearson Edexcel and OCR have confirmed to us that their deadline for Private Candidate entries has been extended. We are pleased to confirm that we have extended our entry deadline to the 1st March 2021 to give the opportunity to make an informed decision. However, we must make it clear that if you don’t have an entry with an exam centre, you will not be able to get any kind of grade.
Tutors and Exams are actively engaged with the Awarding Bodies, DfE and Ofqual to ensure that a robust and fair process is available to Private Candidates. We will have further Summer 2021 Exams updates very soon.
To ensure you are in the best possible position for the release of the consultation outcomes; do not stop studying. Please continue with your studies as if exams were continuing.
Bad News I’m afraid.
Pearson have cancelled IGCSE’s for Summer 2021
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My advice. Don’t withdraw entries or cancel exam bookings, if you do you won’t have any grade at all. Wait for the consultation results to find out what procedures will be available.
From the Pearson Website announcement:
Today, Wednesday 3 February 2021, we are confirming that will use a robust approach based on teacher assessment for International GCSE assessment in May/June 2021 and exams will not go ahead as planned. We will offer an additional exam series for International GCSE later this year.
Our priorities throughout this pandemic have been to keep everyone safe and well and to ensure fairness so that every student receives a grade that reflects their knowledge and understanding.
In making this decision, we have spoken to many schools, teachers and students and have carefully considered a range of options. These included having exams in some countries and teacher assessment in others. Given the ongoing uncertainty, we feel that this could not be done fairly and would risk unintentionally disadvantaging individual students.
You should continue to teach your students, and we will ensure that you are fully supported as we work through the next steps.
Additional exam series for International GCSE
In addition to confirming this approach for the May/June 2021 series, we also intend to make available an additional focused exam series for International GCSE later in the year. This will enable students who prefer to take exams to have the opportunity to do so. We will be consulting with you separately on this and are keen to hear your feedback.
Teacher assessed grades
For May/June 2021, we will use training, support and rigorous quality assurance procedures to ensure that grades are awarded fairly. This approach will be different to last year’s Centre Assessment Grades. As part of this, we are mindful of the needs of private candidates.
Ensuring that students can move on to the next stage of their education with confidence, and with the knowledge and skills to be successful, is of paramount importance. We want to ensure that all students have an opportunity to achieve a grade that reflects their knowledge and understanding and that is based on a rigorous and robust process.
Ensuring that all stakeholders have confidence in the outcomes of students, and that they are fair and consistent, is a key principle and we will be providing further details on this from early March.
Support for teacher assessed grading: our commitment to you
We know that you will be keen to understand more about how the teacher assessed grade will work. We are committed to providing schools with a comprehensive support package to complete teacher assessment.
To do this we will:
- Provide all information regarding teacher assessed grades and associated activities in our bi-weekly newsletter as an update for Heads of Centre, Heads of Department, Teachers and Exams Officers
- Share important news and updates on our website, social media channels and via the weekly Exams Officer Updates
- Publish detailed guidance at the very earliest opportunity on the process of submitting teacher assessed grades
- Produce user guides, videos and step-by-step instructions for any new processes and systems
- Deliver enhanced support and training to support you in making the best decisions
- Provide support to students, parents and carers to understand the processes being undertaken this year
- Share more on the standardisation of teacher assessed grades, arrangements for year 10 or private candidates and appeals, once we can after the outcome of the Ofqual consultation.
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The details of the consultation are now available for you to read and respond to. It will end on Friday 29 January at 23:45. This is the link to the survey for you to respond if you wish HERE >> https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/8BYI4T
The important thing to me is that Private Candidates are certainly being considered and will be catered for somehow. There are 4 suggested options below that are included in the consultation. Which would suit your children best?
I would suggest that if you are planning to respond that you read the whole document as there are lots of points to be taken into account. This is the PDF with the full details which you will need to read first HERE>> https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-how-gcse-as-and-a-level-grades-should-be-awarded-in-summer-2021
This is the important part for Home Educators:
We want to build into the approach opportunities for private candidates (for example students studying independently, and home educated students) to be awarded grades in summer 2021.
We believe there are 4 possible approaches:
(a) for private candidates to complete the papers set by the exam boards for use in schools and colleges. The exam boards would mark the papers (and any completed non-exam assessment) and issue a grade to the private candidate based on their performance.
(b) for private candidates to work with a school or college willing to assess the standard at which they are performing – using the same type of evidence the school and college is considering for its students.
(c) for the exam boards to run normal exams for private candidates to take in the summer of 2021 – appropriate venues would need to be provided.
(d) for the exam boards to run normal exams for private candidates to take in the autumn of 2021 – appropriate venues would need to be provided.
We wish to be confident that there will be a route available for all private candidates to receive a grade. We recognise that, given the pressures on schools and colleges created by the pandemic, and the potential public health considerations, schools and colleges might be reluctant to make entries for and then assess private candidates this year. We also wish to manage the costs to private candidates. We know of some private candidates who were unable to receive a grade in summer 2020 and who did not take the exams in the autumn who are particularly concerned about how the arrangements will work for them. For these students, and others, any further delay could have significant consequences for their progression. We are interested to know which of these options private candidates, in particular, would prefer were put in place. Private candidates will also need to be able to appeal their grade. The route for the appeal would need to align with the way their grade was determined.
53. To what extent do you agree or disagree that private candidates should be able to complete the papers set by exam boards, with them marked by the exam boards?
54. To what extent do you agree or disagree that private candidates should be able to work with a school or college to produce the same type of evidence as the school or college’s other students?
55. To what extent do you agree or disagree that exam boards should run normal exams for private candidates in summer 2021?
56. To what extent do you agree or disagree that exam boards should run normal exams for private candidates in autumn 2021?
57. Do you have any comments on the options for how grades should be made available to private candidates?
58. If the preferred option for private candidates is an exam series, should any other students be permitted to enter to also sit an exam?
Events are rapidly changing and I will endevour to keep this post up to date.
Thursday 7th 7:00pm
The Home Educators’ Qualifications Association (HEQA) has another meeting next Tuesday with ofqual to discuss the EXAMS situation. I will update you on my blog when I see the outcome information. If you have not heard of HEQA here is some information.
HEQA is an amazing group of very experienced Home Educators who have been meeting with ofqual to put the case forward for Home Educators to ensure we are not forgotten in the examination process.
Here is the information from their website https://heqa.uk/
Home educated children in the UK face a number of challenges relating to exams, including:
- Explicit discrimination in policy, such as the 2020 exam replacement system, which excluded a large number of home-educated children
- Difficulties finding suitable centres to sit exams
- Access to exam preparation materials, such as past papers
The Home Educators’ Qualifications Association (HEQA) aims to make things easier.
HEQA provides a channel for home educators to talk to organisations involved in exams — Ofqual, the Department for Education, exam boards, etc. We aim to resolve exam-related difficulties for home-educated children, and avoid a repeat of the Summer 2020 crisis.
We welcome all home educators. If you’re interested in what we’re doing, take a look at the timeline. If you’d like to help us improve the exam situation, please sign up to our mailing list.
Thursday 7th 11:00am
Latest Update from ofqual
They mention Private Candidates (Independent Learners) which is very good news.
We know that this is a difficult time for students, their parents and carers, teachers and trainers. Our message to students is this: please continue to engage as fully as you can in your education. That will be online for the majority of students, or face-to-face for those students still going in to their school, college or training provider. This will put you in the best position, whatever arrangements are made for your qualifications. It’s important that teachers and students can focus on the knowledge and skills needed to equip students to progress to the next stage, whatever form that might take – whether to college, an apprenticeship, university or employment.
The way ahead is not straightforward: exams and standardised assessments are the fairest way of determining what a student knows and can do. We need to consider a wide range of qualifications – from A levels and GCSEs to many different vocational and technical qualifications – and the solution won’t be the same for all. Following the government’s announcement on Monday evening, we also need to consider how alternative arrangements will work for different students, including those who are independent learners. We are discussing alternative arrangements with the Department for Education. We know that many are seeking clarity as soon as possible. We will provide further updates as soon as we can.
The government has announced that schools and colleges can continue with the vocational and technical exams due to take place in January where it is right to do so. This may be particularly important for vocational and technical qualifications which require a ‘licence to practise’, which can only be fulfilled through practical assessment.
Simon Lebus, Interim Chief Regulator, Ofqual
Wednesday 6th January 3:00pm
Education Secretary for England Gavin Williamson answered questions from MP’s in the Commons.
Joy Morrissey the MP for Beaconsfield asked:
Last year the approach to GCSEs and A-levels meant that private candidates such as Home Educated children were unable to obtain a grade. Can my right honourable friend confirm that this year, they will be able to do so.
Gavin Williamson replied:
I know that my honourable friend will be speaking not just many of her constituents in the question she asked, but actually many thousands of youngsters right across the country who will be really worried about this. I have asked Ofqual to take up this issue, to look at it directly, and to make sure that there are measures in place so that those those students are going to be in a position where they’re able to, be in a place where they’re able to get a grade [sic]. I have asked Ofqual to include it as part of their consultation which they will be doing next week and we’ve already discussed as to how this can be done and believe it will be possible to do so.
Written 5th January 2021, 4 hours after the lockdown announcement.
Boris mentioned changes to exams tonight in his speech about another lockdown, I have seen Home educators go into complete panic with in minutes. I just want to say, Don’t Panic! Stay calm and wait to see what happens. More information will be available at some point to help you make the decisions you need to make.
There are lots of Facebook groups for Home Educators to discuss their fears. You can join the AWE Home Education Facebook page HERE where our members are all talking about plans and ideas to cover all eventualities. We have input from exams officers and highly experienced Home Educators. Everyone is helping and supporting each other with advice and sympathetic ears!
My advice is to be aware that there are people who are spreading rumours and speculation as though it is facts, this is not very helpful. Try to seek out advice from people you can trust. Check out sources of information yourself. If you can pluck up courage read the .Gov announcements and check the exam board websites for announcements. Follow TES for updates.
There are many Home Educators in the process of filling in forms, getting ID together and paying for their children’s exams in the next couple of weeks. To those people my advice is to go ahead. Keep records of your children’s exam course work and homework, date everything. Do practice papers under exam conditions and you could even consider video recording it with some kind of proof of the date and the child’s name. That is what I would be doing if my children had exams this year. Some people are considering not booking exams in case they are cancelled, but If you haven’t booked they definitely won’t be sitting their exam this year! Ask your exam centre to confirm that if the exams are cancelled they will give you a refund. I think it reasonable to expect them to deduct admin fees for the work they have to do but you should ask how much they will refund.
I don’t think it will be the same as Summer 2020, surely lessons have been learned and they have time to make arrangements for this Summer. Most importantly, try to keep your students committed to continuing their studies give them positive vibes. I have seen over the years how resourceful and adaptable Home Educators are. They usually find a way to help their children get to where they want to go. That’s the great thing about Home Education we don’t have to all do things the same way!
Keep positive and wait for further news.
There are some great deals out there for Black Friday so I’ll put them on this blog post and add more as I find them.
If you know of any good deals, please let me know via the contact from and I’ll put them up here.
Happy Home Edding
p.s. Rosetta Stone now added!
p.p.s Mrs Wordsmith added!
p.p.p.s Mathseeds and Reading Eggs added!
p.p.p.p.s Code Kingdoms added!
p.p.p.p.p.s Banjo Robinson added!
MEL Science – Up to 3 months free. Buy or give a gift certificate
(use our code code ALLEDU for 25% off the first month if you don’t want to pay upfront)
Banjo Robinson – 50% off – Use discount code code: BLACKFRIDAY
Hi Home Educators
People have asked me what you actually receive in the MEL Science and MEL Kids boxes, so I have recorded a couple of short films so you can actually see the contents for yourself. If you then want to sign up, follow the links to get the special offer from AWE discounts.
MEL Science kits (age 10+) are very good quality and everything is well thought out and put together to make it easy for children to follow the instructions and get the satisfaction of doing successful experiments. Over the years I have had lots of science kits that have been rubbish with disappointing results that leave the children feeling disinterested. MEL Science kits however will leave your children wanting to do more and will result in them learning more! It’s a win all round.
Have you heard? MEL Science have a new product called MEL Kids, it’s brilliant! I think children will love it. We have an AWE discounts offer too so that’s even better!
MEL Kids is a monthly science kit box that is aimed at age 5 to 10 years. It arrives at your house every month in a fun decorative box that has everything in it for your kids to do a number of experiments. There is an easy to follow instruction book with child friendly characters and easy to read instructions. It’s the sort of thing children will really look forward to receiving and will be really excited to open and get going on the experiments. An easy way to teach them lots of science in a hands on and fun way.
Happy Home Edding!
Are you looking for online tutors? If so please read on. We can help with online tutors for Maths, English, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, General Science, History and Geography
Many families are finding themselves in an unexpected position where they are suddenly responsible for their children’s education. This maybe due them self-isolating if they have been exposed to someone with Covid-19 or they may have underlying medical conditions in the family which has forced them to opt to keep their children at home to minimise the risk to loved ones. Others have found their child’s school closing with very little notice leaving them trying to arrange for child care as well as education.
Schools are giving varying levels of support and input to parents. Some have been given work for the children to complete at home, some have been given nothing. It’s all very worrying for parents. One of their concerns may be that their child could fall behind during the weeks or even months that they are not attending school. Another worry is how do you fill your child’s days with worthwhile activities. This is something I am pleased to say, I can actually help with. I have been arranging tutored group lessons for a great many years and work with a group of amazing teachers who are very experienced and who are able to utilise their skills to support children being temporarily Home Educated. So if you are a family who have found yourself with these concerns please get in touch so I can see how I can help.
We are able to provide families with access to AWE Online classes at KS2, KS3 and GCSE Level in Maths, English, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, General Science, History and Geography. I can help with affordable online tutor led group lessons that take place during the daytime and will give your child’s days some structure and stability while helping to ensure they keep up with their education. Tutors are happy to set ‘homework’ to be completed between online lessons should you want it. I hope families will see this as a way for them to get the peace of mind that their child is receiving a suitable education leaving them with time to have fun and enjoy being together. I hope you all stay healthy and the experience of having your children at home is a positive and wonderful experience.
Please don’t feel this is your only option, you don’t have to use tutors. There are many ways for you to deal with your children’s educational requirements from books, projects, Apps or online resources. I home educated my own children throughout their school years and have helped my daughter to Home Educate my grandchildren. It has been an amazing and wonderful experience that changed my life and has resulted in me having about 17 years of experience when at the beginning I had only planned to Home Educate for three months. I use my knowledge and experience on a daily basis advising and supporting people through their Home Educating ups and downs. I know first-hand how you may be feeling at different times. There will be wonderful times but there will also be times you are concerned and uncertain, I hope that will be where I can help you. If you need advice or ideas or want suggestions for how to proceed please get in touch and I will be happy to help if I can. My email is [email protected]
Home Education or Home Schooling due to School closures because of Coronavirus Covid 19
I am hearing of many parents who are deciding to remove their children from school due to fears over Coronavirus or being forced into the situation by school closures. This decision had many implications for the families concerned. Many parents are suddenly responsible for their child’s education without any experience or time to research and formulate a plan of how to do so. This can be daunting and worrying for many however I wanted to take the opportunity to say don’t be scared, have fun! See this as an opportunity to enjoy doing things with your child. You may find Home Education suits your family and you could decided never to send them back to school. How wonderful, an amazing adventure awaits………..
My advice is don’t panic. You don’t need to replicate school in your house. You don’t need to sit your child in front of a pile of books all day insisting they work from 9am to 3pm. Home Education is a whole new way of thinking which when you let go of the fear and the panic can be a route to finding your child’s hidden talents and abilities. If you can take the time to follow their lead and watch what they enjoy and the things that spark their interest you can tailor their days to be fun, enjoyable and educational at the same time. Honestly, it is the best thing I have ever done!
Often we find that when children first come out of school they find it difficult to find ways to amuse themselves all day as they are so used to someone else deciding everything for them. At school they are always told where to be, what to do, what to think about and what to learn. There is not much freedom to make their own choices. This new opportunity to Home Educate them may leave some children a bit agitated, like they are asking “ what next” or “where now”. This mind set can take an amount of time to get away from. My advice would be to observe and understand what they are going through. Their lives have been restricted possibly, depending on their ages for many years. The sudden freedom can unsettle them and possibly make them restless while they adjust and find new ways to fill their days. Parents will often describe this period as the “climbing the walls” stage.
For other children the adjustment may be liberating they make wake up the first day and instantly know all the things they want to do and go about it with a passion. This particularly applies to children who have a passion for a particular activity. For example children who love to paint or draw will get out their drawing materials and enjoy the absolute freedom to indulge their passion for as much time as they wish unrestricted by bells and timetables. This may go on for many hours or even days or week. The same applies to children who enjoy playing a musical instrument. You may have the wonderful opportunity to observe their skills as they practice over and over striving to perfect their skills un burdened by time.
One fear that parents often have is that their children will spend endless hours on their screens. Phones, computers and tablets are often seen as a bad use of time. Once you start to Home Educate you will get the opportunity to actually use for educational purposes those same screens. Instead of seeing it as wasted time you may find you can actually use their love of screens to direct their learning. There are a great many educational resources used by Home Educators as a huge part of the education they are able to provide. In the case of young children what they think of as a game or a fun app can actually be teaching them at the same without the moans and groans you may experience should you try to teach them the same things while sitting at a desk with a workbook in front of them.
Times tables are always a big worry and many parents ask what is the best and least painful way to teach them. I have found that the fun apps and computer based games are much more successful than the endless repetitive chanting. You may wish to look at PurpleMash which is an amazing application/programme which is actually used in hundreds of school but is accessible to parents who are Home Educating too. Purple Mash covers all the subjects that children learn at school from age 5 to 11. Its all done in a fun, game based way that children enjoy and look forward to doing, this can be such a help to parents. If you want to benefit for the discounted annual subscription that is available for Home Educators you can buy it with a 50% discount on awediscounts.com/purple-mash It will only cost you £15 with access for a whole year. So even if you only Home Educate during the school closures it is still affordable. You may even find that when your child goes back to school they will opt to use PurpleMash afterschool and at the weekends as a matter of choice as they enjoy it. If however you prefer you could try a non-screen based option which I have found to be really simple and effective for teaching times tables. It’s a card based game that demonstrates how simple it can actually be. Have a look at Tackling Tables as well as Tackling Addition and Subtraction awediscounts.com/tackling-tables-add-subtract I have used their system myself and found it amazingly straightforward and effective.
Another aspect to think about regarding screen time, is that you could use your child’s interest to give them the opportunity to use the skills and interests they have to learn about how all these gadgets actually work. After all by the time your child leaves education even more of our lives will probably be computerised. The world will need experts in all kinds of ways to make all our gadgets work. A great place to start with this would be by giving your child the chance to learn about the coding or programming that actually makes their screen time games and apps work. There are many ways to teach them coding or programming but parents are often worried as they themselves have never learnt it so they feel they are not qualified to teach their child. Luckily there are many ways for your child to learn that will not require your input. On the AWE Discounts website awediscounts.com you will find special discounts for a number of educational products that will facilitate this al all levels. For infant and primary age a great resource is Coding Park, who offer a 35% discount for Home Schoolers or Home Educators See awediscounts.com/coding-park It is so simple, from lesson one they will actually be coding. They gradually work their way through the levels learning new coding skills all the time. It’s a great resource and we are very grateful to Coding Park for supporting Home Educators with the discounted offer.
For older students who are more accomplished with a computing and programming you may like the opportunity to enable them to do an online BTEC course that is a recognised qualification that will look good on their CV and be accepted by college and employers as a worthwhile skill to have. Kanduit courses are completely run online at the students own pace without the need for them to sit an exam at the end. They are assessed as they go along by submitting assignments that are marked and returned to them with useful feedback. There are a number of courses available at different levels leading to various qualifications. Kanduit have been helping numerous Home Educated students through these qualifications and kindly allow us to offer them at a discounted price. This maybe a good option should you decide that your child is benefitting from being Home Educated and that you won’t send them back to school once the Coronavirus situation is resolved. We usually see that students get really engrossed in these courses and work on the assignments and lessons willingly for many hours each week. This is great for allowing them to learn in a more independent way working through the course in their own time as opposed to school based learning on one hour slots. It develops their ability to concentrate too. You can see the courses available on this link awediscounts.com/kanduit-online-ict-courses
You may find you are worried about their maths skills getting behind while they are not having daily lessons at school. I have always found that maths seems to be absorbed better when done regularly each day as opposed to once or twice a week. Its seems children need to practice what they learn and revisit some elements regularly to reinforce them. A tried and tested resource than many Home Educators all over the World rely on as the bulk of their child’s maths curriculum is a great product called ConquerMaths. I have used this for many years with all my children and Grandchildren. The feeling I get from it is that I know that if the child works through the lessons in the programme they will cover everything they need to learn at all levels and ages from age 4 to 18. This has always given me the peace of mind to not worry so much about their maths education especially as it’s not my favourite area of expertise. It’s nice to give that responsibility to ConquerMaths and just watch my child develop their maths skills. ConquerMaths is another resource originally produced for school use that we Home Educators are grateful to have access to especially as they have very kind given us a very large 59% discount on an annual subscription, please note this offer will expire on 5th April so if you want to benefit from the discounted price go to this link awediscounts.com/conquermaths before then. The programme works by showing the child short videos explaining a concept followed by on screen interactive questions that are marked instantly giving them the feedback they need to ensure they know if they are getting it right or need to go over that part again. I much prefer this to the old fashioned way of doing the questions then passing them to a teacher for marking and maybe waiting for a number of hours or days to find out if they have correctly learned the concept. It is hard to be given back a workbook a week after a lesson, see a lot of red crosses and have to then go back and try to work out what you were thinking and where it went wrong. This is a much better alternative.
I hope you do enjoy this opportunity to be responsible for the education of your child. Once you get used to it, it can lead you to a truly wonderful way of life that will benefit the whole family. Good luck and stay healthy.
If schools close in the Governments Coronavirus action plan, as stated in the ‘Delay phase’, then this is the perfect opportunity for parents/guardians/relatives to engage in short term Home Education. I’m sure that schools will supply teaching materials, but National Curriculum products like ConquerMaths, PurpleMash and ConquerComputing will assist if they are struggling.
Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has said the UK should expect “a substantial period of disruption” so this is not going away soon, as Home Educators we are well prepared to continue to educate our children at home, where the risk of catching Coronavirus is greatly reduced.
Stay safe everyone, and it goes without saying that we all should follow the NHS advice.
Happy Home Edding
Put simply, Home Education is when parents or guardians decide to remove their child from, or not start their child in, a school education and take over the responsibility for their child’s education themselves.
“Is it legal?”
Yes. The government states: “As parents, you – not the state – are responsible for ensuring that your child, if he or she is of compulsory school age, is properly educated. Despite the term ‘compulsory school age’, education does not have to be undertaken through attendance at school…”
You, as parent/guardians are then free to decide what your child learns, how they learn, where they learn and who teaches them. Basically there is no fixed curriculum – you decide!
“So can I remove my child from school and do nothing with them?”
No. Although there is no legislation that deals with Home Education as a specific approach, the Government states: “Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states the parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable (a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and (b) to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”
As a special note I want to make sure you know that from the very first day you take on the responsibility to Home Educate, your child must be learning full time. Some people will say you can ‘do nothing’ or de-school for a time but this is not acceptable should a Local Authority inspector ask you what your plan is. However, whatever you are doing with your child actually can be counted in some way as education, it doesn’t mean they have to be sat in front of a pile of books all day. If they help you cook a meal, that has many educational elements as well as life skills. If they help you do the food shopping that counts as an educational opportunity if you give them the chance to calculate the budget for example.
Your child will be learning all the time in one way or another, a suitable education does not mean just ‘book’ learning.
“Will I get funding?”
Unfortunately no, the Government is no longer financially responsible either so all costs must be met by the parents. The parents must commit to ensuring their child receives a full time education that results in the child making progress appropriate for their age and ability taking into account any special educational needs.
The link below takes you to the UK Government’s Department for Education guidance document that explains the law. Please don’t be daunted by the legal wording it is actually a very simple process that can be immensely rewarding and successful for both parent and child.
Why not! There are numerous different reasons why families choose to Home Educate their children.
Every Home Educator’s decision is different
People Home Educate for a variety of reasons, such as:
- Disillusion with the school system
- Bullying in school
- Religious beliefs
- Political reasons
- Anxiety or stress
- Many, many, more….
There is no ‘one reason’ why parents/guardians decide to Home Educate, you will find people from all walks of life. each with their own reason.
You are in control
For example, you may be a professional who wants your child to follow in your footsteps, or maybe, you think the school system does not devote enough time to Maths, or Chemistry, or Physical Education…
Whatever it is that you and your child want, with Home Education YOU are able to pick and choose what they learn. This could be in the format of tutors, online learning or you teaching them. However be aware, there may be no support from your Local Authority.
If your child is finding school stressful and is not coping
If your child is being bullied or has anxiety or stress at school and you have tried everything to solve the problem, Home Education may be a solution.
Its entirely up to you and your child to decide how to Home Educate, there is no right or wrong way to do it. I have found that the way we Home Educate as a family is constantly changing, as you try things you can continually adapt to what suits your family.
I found Home Education evolves as you go along. I realised quite quickly that rigid timetables did not work for us, we are very flexible in our days. During primary years we went on numerous outings and trips all over the place. There was lots of learning ‘by doing’ or by attending workshops, exhibitions, talks, museums and similar.
I soon realised that it was completely pointless to force my children to do work books when they were tired so formal learning was a very small part of our day, usually no more than an hour. However if they became engrossed and wanted to continue for interest in which case they may work on a project for a number of days!
What worked for us….
I was aware of the need to ensure I covered the basics like Maths and English so we always had workbooks for those. We also did lots of online learning through numerous different educational websites and apps. By far the most successful one that we used for the longest time was ConquerMaths. It covers all the Maths needed for every age, my son even used it for some A level work. See the following link if you would like to buy an annual subscription for ConquerMaths with fantastic discount for Home Educators of 59% which is a great help, go HERE
I believe the key to successful Home Education for us has been to have lots of fun. To enjoy being together and learning important life skills like how to get along with each other and cooperate, be compassionate and respectful of other people’s needs.
My children have been very much involved in everything that goes on in our house. We always discuss and explain things that are happening. They understand about family finances, why we pay tax, how the UK Government works and why we vote. Basically everything we deal with, they are involved in to some extent. This has given them great general knowledge.
It’s not as frightening as it first seems. If your child has a school place or is attending a school your first step is to write a deregistration letter addressed to the Head Teacher informing them that you have chosen to Home Educate your child from a certain date and asking them to ensure the child’s name is withdrawn from the school role.
The school can not refuse, they have to remove your child from the school role and can not insist you attend a meeting or delay the process in anyway. Always get a receipt if you hand deliver the letter or post by registered mail so you can prove they received your letter. Keep copies of all correspondence including any text messages.
The school will lose funding
Beware of a school asking you to wait until after a certain date as that maybe a way of ensuring they still receive the funding for your child’s place. You do not have to agree to this, you can remove your child at any time.
Special Educational Needs (SEN) & EHCP
The deregistration process is more complicated if your child has Special Educational needs and has an EHCP (Education and Health Care Plan). There are Facebook groups to help and support you under these circumstances.
Click HERE for a Home Education deregistration letter template (opens in a new window). Go to File | Download to download the file in your favourite format.