Does anyone not take GCSEs

(8 Posts)
Sammi76 Tue 20-Sep-16 23:42:50

Just wanted to know if anyone takes another route to GCSEs , homeschooling my child who has severe anxiety and social anxiety, he's 13 and been out if school a year learning fun things to get his confidence back. Worried he don't be able to cope with taking GCSEs .

Saracen Wed 21-Sep-16 06:10:29

My 16yo hasn't done them. Our view is this. She doesn't have a specific need for qualifications right now, and may never need them because she's interested in a hands-on practical career and university doesn't appeal to her at all. Even the most academic of her friends have not really enjoyed preparing the GCSE syllabus. Many teens, parents and tutors say that as far as learning the actual material goes, GCSEs are a distraction, and a more open-ended self-directed study allows better focus on the subject matter.

With home education, there's no reason to suppose it would be any better to do GCSEs at 16 rather than any other age, so she may as well wait to see which if any she does need and do them then. (This is sometimes called the "just-in-time" approach, versus the schools' "just-in-case" approach of cramming in a large number of GCSEs at 16 just in case they may be needed.) Probably this will result in her doing fewer GCSEs, at a later age, and with a high motivation.

To anyone who finds this idea dubious, I'd put this question: would you make your teen sit their driving test at 17 if they didn't want to? Would you worry that failing to get that qualification behind them at an early age dooms them to a restricted life?

However, I do appreciate that she's in a somewhat different situation from your son, Sammi. I am confident that she'll have no particular struggles with doing exams, and this makes us relaxed. We aren't saying "never"; we are saying "not now". It must be worrying for you if you feel that GCSEs may not ever be an option for your son. I think it is well worth looking into alternative qualifications in order to put your mind and his at rest. There are other ways to study which are not so exam-based. For example, some people do entry-level courses with the Open University. Some who want to go on to university might wait and then do a Foundation course. It's likely that un inability to cope with exams would preclude certain careers altogether, but perhaps he will be lucky and not want one of those careers anyway. For most careers, there are many possible routes to follow. Many people say they never needed their GCSEs at all.

claraschu Wed 21-Sep-16 06:20:52

My HE son didn't do GCSEs, went to a specialist music 6th form, where he did 2 A levels. I know that's probably not relevant to you.

My other son went to a US university, which wasn't interested in his GCSEs or A levels.

Brockwood Park school doesn't do GCSEs either; you might have a look at some material about them for ideas. I do think there are other possible paths, but the ones I know of are quite specific.

Emochild Wed 21-Sep-16 06:21:43

My dd is also out of school due to anxiety, school phobia and high functioning ASD thrown into the mix

She should be in year 10 but has been out for 18 months
We attempted a new school this year, it hasn't worked

We are now exploring interhigh

The do igcses and can choose the number and mix of subjects

I think when you are forced to home ed rather than make a choice to home ed then you do worry more about formal qualifications -particularly if your child has previously demonstrated that they are academically able within a school environment

I'm still trying to reconcile myself with the idea that dd won't walk out with a stack of gcses under her belt at 16 -but i'm getting there

Saracen Wed 21-Sep-16 07:16:21

I think you are quite right to focus on helping your son gain confidence and happiness and put academics on the back burner for now. As he gets older, he might enjoy doing the sorts of things my teen has been doing.

She's carrying on with her current interests, mainly music and art. Increasingly as she gets older, she's trying out different types of part-time and temporary jobs and voluntary placements to expand her knowledge of the world of work and develop useful life skills. This will help her discover where her aptitudes and interests lie and find out how those match onto different jobs. There are all sorts of transferable skills which are more easily acquired out in the world than in an academic setting. This also makes for an interesting and substantial CV, which many young people don't have.

You may be able to do some voluntary work alongside your son if he needs support, or if organisations require parental supervision for under-16s. For example, conservation projects in our area welcome families for such jobs as scrub clearance, coppicing, and wildlife surveys. A young friend of ours volunteered at an archaeological dig and at a scrapstore, initially with mum in tow and later without her. There's a vineyard near us which needs volunteer labour for pruning, harvesting and bottling. Families can serve food and clear up at the soup kitchen. If you ask around locally, you may find some great opportunities.

Sammi76 Wed 21-Sep-16 07:37:18

Thankyou for the replies! Pits my mind at ease a little, my concern is to what to teach him now at home? Just incase he does want to go down that route of gcses? I see everyone using all the key stage 3 books and gcse books preparing their children for it all, but just don't know, I'm worried I'm letting him down and I've made the wrong choice taking him out of school, but felt I had no choice. His anxiety was terrible along with school phobia, it only starred when he started secondary school. He was under camhs for over a year and reduced timetable, but nothing was helping and his mental health was getting worse! He is a lot happier but still has some down days saying hell end up a loner with no friends, which breaks my heart. He has a few friends where we live, but he refuses to join any clubs or mix with other HE kids.

Saracen Wed 21-Sep-16 09:57:08

He'll get there! You have all the time in the world. There is no deadline by which he needs to have learned specific things. There is no deadline for having friends or joining clubs - if he wants to do that, he can do it in his own time. It sounds like he is slowly recovering some confidence but doesn't yet feel up to jumping into certain types of social environments. Maybe he never will find them easy, but he'll eventually learn to tolerate them now and then in order to achieve something he wants.

Suggest things to him which you think he might enjoy. Something structured, where everyone is working toward a goal together or separately, might feel easier. But you don't have to push it if he doesn't want it now.

Reassure your son that it will never be too late to do the things he wants to do. Growing up is a long-term project with no schedules. Lots and lots of people have difficult circumstances or health problems along the way which mean they follow a different path. People start careers at different ages, move out of their parents' home at different ages, go to uni at different ages, have their first boyfriend or girlfriend at different ages. In the big scheme, it really doesn't matter.

waterhorse123 Sat 24-Sep-16 22:55:02

My second son who is now nearly 28 was at school in France and chose to return to sixth form in the UK where he was admitted to the sixth form with no GCSEs at all. The only question posed on uni application was whether his English was good enough and they took our assurances that it was. He did Maths, Physics, French and Art A levels and now has a really good job in computers.

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