Summary Survey Results 2012
- 15% of Councils take the position that they can fulfil their statutory responsibilities by doing nothing
- Only 15% of Councils reported that they are actively working to build bridges with local schools
- Only 14% of Councils keep a list of schools which take private candidates
- Only 11% of Councils direct families to the information for private candidates held by awarding bodies such as AQA and Edexcel and only 14% of Councils mentioned that they provided information about taking exams as private candidates.
- 19% of Councils tell families to ask local schools yet the vast majority of schools are unable or unwilling to help, and it is not clear whether LAs are aware of this
- 8% signpost to FE colleges with a further 3% hoping to make use of college facilities in the future.
- 14% of Councils have taken an alternative route and are using their own Pupil Referral Units as exam centres for home educated children and these Councils are disproportionately represented in the Appendix containing positive examples.
- 4% of Councils told me that they have tried to find suitable schools without success
- 15% of Councils while offering only limited help at present, acknowledge the problem and would like to do more in future.
Update November 2013 Positive Examples
Warrington has just started offering free exam access to IGCSEs for home educators - English and Maths this year (sat at a Warrington College) Parents get access to the Virtual Learning Environment and can have a termly meeting with a tutor.
Croydon has helped a home educated private candidate who has learning difficulties. The family had independent professional reports outlining the special needs, and the Elective Home Education Advisor knew the family and was able to arrange an interview at the LA's own exam centre who in turn arranged an assessment with an educational psychologist to provide further specific evidence for access arrangements.
Kirklees offers the PRU where home educated young people can take either GCSEs or IGCSEs. The centre can accommodate candidates who need to use a keyboard or who require extra time. Parents would need to obtain and provide the appropriate level of proof. The examinations officer at the PRU is contactable for queries and advice.
Newcastle also offers home educated young people the opportunity to sit exams at the PRU, which is made easier by the fact that the person who manages the elective home education service is also the head at the PRU.
Buckinghamshire has parents from other nearby LAs contacting the LA for information and advice based on recommendations. The PRU is used for private candidates. The LA is in regular contact with local FE colleges.
Action List For Local Authorities
Start with providing basic written information; ask round local schools; consider a pilot; invite local home educators to a meeting to discuss exams access; ask the PRU; ask the FE College; investigate support for Access Arrangements; run a course leading to a qualification
- Be aware that Ofsted says it will ask LAs what they are doing to help home educators with exams
- Provide basic information about taking exams as a private candidate including GCSEs, Controlled Assessment, IGCSEs.
- Make FAQ available on the Council's Home Education web page + via pdf/printed leaflet for new families Add pointers on how to find an exam centre and signpost to awarding bodies and local home education support groups and national support network for home educators taking exams
- Ask round local schools to see if anyone is willing to let home educated young people sit exams. (This could initially be restricted to the same exams which are being taken by children at the school.)
- Be proactive in engaging with schools and explaining what is involved, as Hampshire have done. Seek to understand barriers and challenges for schools and consider how these might be overcome. Follow up initial enquiries, don't just wait for positive responses. Could you start with a pilot?
- Invite home educating families to a meeting to discuss access to exams
- Consider partnership working with local home educators to develop a viable exam centre. Could you start with a pilot?
- Investigate the possibility of using the Pupil Referral Unit (or equivalent) as exam centre for home educated private candidates. (As with schools, be proactive in engaging with the PRU and consider starting with a pilot)
- Approach the local FE College to see whether home educated young people could take exams as private candidates. As with schools and the PRU, be proactive in engaging with the college and consider starting with a pilot.
- When you are talking to the local FE colleges, find out what GCSE courses are being run, as these will be eligible for funding by the EFA under the new FE funding arrangements for home educated 14-16s from September 2013
- Think about whether the LA could help with assessments for Access Arrangements
- Run exam courses for home educated young people - possibly in partnership with the local college - + an opportunity to sit the exam
DfE explains how external candidates results don't affect schools November 29th 2013