The General Certificate of Education (GCSE) is a two-year course leading to an examination. GCSEs are taught in UK schools, as part of the National Curriculum. Most kids take their GCSE examinations in Year 11 at secondary school, when they are 16, but it is possible to take GCSEs at any time.
How Important are GCSEs?
Ask any teenager, and they’ll probably say “GCSEs are irrelevant” but the truth is, if your child wants to go on to higher education, he or she will usually need a clutch of GCSEs in their bag. GCSEs in the core subjects, such as English, Maths, and Science, are also important if your teenager plans to get a job at some point. There are always exceptions to the rule, kids who become successful entrepreneurs at 16 without an exam to their name, but most employers expect job candidates to have the basic GCSEs.
Even if your child hasn’t followed the National Curriculum while being homeschooled, if they want to go to university or college, or look for a job with a regular employer, they will usually need some GCSEs. In this article, we are going to give you some helpful tips to help guide a home-schooled child towards their GCSE exams.
Does My Child Need GCSEs?
Before you go down the GCSE road, make sure your child does actually need them. Some vocational qualification courses at college don’t ask for GCSEs. In addition, if your child is skilled in a subject such as IT and can demonstrate their skills, taking a GCSE in maths is probably not going to make any difference to their future career.
Once you are certain that GCSEs are the way forward, it is time to begin working towards the examinations.
Choose an Exam Board
Different exam boards have different curriculums. It is very important that you decide in advance which exam board you are using, as different revision guides are available for each exam board. If your child wants to sit their GCSE in English literature, for example, the set texts will vary. It would be awful if your child spent months studying Twelfth Night, only to discover that the exam was all about Macbeth.
Look at past papers and old revision guides, to see what previous syllabuses entailed. You should be able to obtain old exam papers from the boards in question, but expect to pay a fee.
Homeschooled kids can also opt to take International GCSEs. The main examination bodies for iGCSEs are Pearson Edexcel and CIEc.
Hire a Home Tutor
Many parents run out of steam when it comes time for homeschooled kids to study for GCSEs. They might not have the skills to help them with complex equations and tricky science problems. This is where a home tutor can come in handy.
Teachers To Your Home is a good example of a home tuition service that connects qualified teachers with kids in need of high-quality home tuition. You can book home tuition at your convenience, with teachers qualified in specialist subjects. Use home tutors to plug the skills gap if your child is struggling with a subject and you can’t help.
Be prepared to try more than one tutor before you find someone who clicks with your child. Some kids need a tutor who cuts them zero slack and is tough on them. Others need a more softly-softly approach. You know your child better than anyone, so listen to their concerns, and if they dislike a tutor for any reason, try someone different.
Speak to the Local School
If your child previously attended a local school, contact them for advice. They will be able to advise you on exams and examination boards. They may even be able to supply a list of suitable revision guides and copies of past papers.
Use Online Resources
There are a ton of online resources for GCSE students. The BBC Bitesize website has revision guides that cover all the main GCSE subjects, including maths, English, Chemistry, Physics, and more.
The Mathswatch platform can be used on mobile, tablet, and PC, and makes learning maths a breeze. It is a subscription service, but it is a useful revision and learning tool that features 100s of exam-style questions.
Finding an Exam Centre
Unless your child is a registered pupil, he or she can’t sit GCSE exams at school. This means you will need to find an exam centre. For more information on this, speak to the exam board you are using. Groups of home educators can opt to set up their own exam centres, but there are strict rules in place, so research this thoroughly before you go down this route.
Once you have all the necessities in place, encourage your child to connect with other homeschooled kids on online forums and boards. This will give them some much-needed extra support as they study for their GCSEs.