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Anybody know about entering a child as external candidate for A levels?

(23 Posts)
fossil971 Sun 08-Sep-13 17:38:21

Bit of background- I'm assisting a close friend to get her son (well he is like our godson/"nephew") back into education. He is 20 but dropped out of 6th form after a family trauma and some MH issues. He's extremely intelligent and I would have said an academic in the making. He's much better now and motivated to do his A levels but the previous 6th form aren't interested in an external candidate and we aren't 100% sure he will cope with fulltime attendance right off.

He's now looking at starting A levels with a view to taking them as an external candidate. I understand that colleges only normally enter external candidates if they have their own taking the same?

Basically I have suggested that they ring the 3 or 4 places within striking distance that do the subjects to see if there is still time to register as an external candidate, and hopefully (for a fee if necessary) be able to attend practical classes and have coursework assessed. He might have to be in 2 centres to get all his subjects, depending on distance.

Am I missing anything? What is the response likely to be, how can we make a good case? Is private tutoring likely to be helpful and how do we find one for less-common subjects? Could we try to connect with a better match of college that is a bit further away, and visit periodically, or is it better to stay local?

I would just really love to see him get the good batch of A levels he should have got 2 years ago, and on the way to further study, and ideally not wait another whole year to restart the A levels.

fossil971 Sun 08-Sep-13 17:38:45

Sorry, 20 isn't a child really! A young person!

EvilTwins Sun 08-Sep-13 19:00:55

Try contacting a local college and asking for advice rather than telling them what you want them to do. What is the plan after A levels? If it's university, then an access course might be a better option. Your plan sounds rather complex. A college would be able to give advice/suggestions

creamteas Sun 08-Sep-13 19:08:50

At 20, I would also suggest he might be better off doing something else.

Long term, what is the career goal?

If he doesn't want to do an Access Course, then another alternative would be studying with the OU.

Rummikub Sun 08-Sep-13 19:09:23

It's unlikely they will take him as an external candidate. If you contact the exam boards like AQA then they will tell you where the exam centre is. You just pay for the exam and the centre fee. No tuition, just turn up on the day. Given the circumstances you describe I don't think that will be the best option for him. There are distance learning options that he could consider. They will send course materials to him.

I agree with eviltwins, contact a local fe college and ask for advice. Access courses are good options, timetabled for around 16-18 hours a week. Another option is to consider an evening A level for 3 hours per week. He would get tuition which is invaluable. Open university is also worth considering.

titchy Sun 08-Sep-13 19:11:47

Agree just enrol him as a student at a local FE college. You will have to pay but he'll get the support, academic and pastoral, that it seems he needs. An access course might also be a good idea depending what he wants todo afterwards. If you're quick he could start next week.

fossil971 Sun 08-Sep-13 20:03:14

What's an access course? He wants to do a degree in something like History or Archaeology & go on to work in that sort of field, basically. The sort of degree that normally asks for 3 decent A levels.

We had trouble finding an exam centre for AQA, they just have lists of dozens of FE colleges that "might" enter him. The previous 6th form is one of them but they say they have too much on their plate with the change to all A levels in July happening this year.

We will try calling AQA who set 2 of the A levels. It sounds like a good idea to contact the FE college and see what they suggest, they must see all sorts of candidates.

Sorry to be dim, is an FE college the same as a sixth form college? We are on the border of several counties and they all seem to have different systems.

titchy Sun 08-Sep-13 20:09:36

6th form colleges are for school leavers, so age 16. Students generally do two year courses (or three if they retake), so leave at 18 or 19, so he'll be too old for such a college. FE colleges are designed for all ages and much more suitable for a 20 year old.

History and archaeology degrees only ask A levels of 18 year old applicants. By the time he went to university he'd be classed as a mature student where there is much more flexibility over entry qualifications. Evidence of recent study, OU or access course, plus evidence of interest in the subject, voluntary work at museum or on a dig for instance.

fossil971 Sun 08-Sep-13 20:11:14

Thanks titchy, that is food for thought. Would it be worth contacting universities he is interested in and working back from what they say the admissions criteria are?

titchy Sun 08-Sep-13 20:14:43

Definitely. Stress he'll be a mature student though. Good luck!

fossil971 Sun 08-Sep-13 20:19:08

OK we are off to some open days over the next few weeks so will pick everybody's brains. Thanks!

Rummikub Sun 08-Sep-13 21:15:02

Access courses are designed for over 19 year olds and give the equivalent of A level quals to get into uni. There will be a choice of units, including history. Get him to get involved in archaeological digs as a volunteer for experience and fun.

fossil971 Fri 13-Sep-13 15:12:23

Update - we are struggling to find an access course which still has places. We are a bit behind the curve as we were thinking of A levels at a normal school, which were closed all summer where of course the colleges would have been open. Does it matter too much as to the content of the course? There is one possibility in humanities but it seems quite biased towards social science. Is it worth hassling keeping in touch with the nearest college, which doesn't have any places left, in case anyone drops out?

Rummikub Fri 13-Sep-13 22:35:43

So he would be doing sociology, psychology? Is there a history option at all?

It probably is worth keeping in touch with the college. Some students don't complete enrolment for various reasons so there might a place. Does the college offer evening A levels? So he could do the access plus history AS level?

Rummikub Fri 13-Sep-13 22:41:06

If this is his first step back into education then maybe something he would enjoy for a few hours rather than something as full on as an access course would be an idea. Then look at volunteering on digs or museums for this year. Some adult ed options cold be available at uni like short courses in archaeology or history. These won't get him onto a degree though, he would need to apply early for an access course that starts next year.

fossil971 Fri 13-Sep-13 22:47:24

OK, I think we will try to proceed on both fronts and see what happens. Thanks Rummikub.

Rummikub Fri 13-Sep-13 22:49:56

Make sure he takes a step back before committing to access if its not exactly what he wants. I would hate to think he got put off by a course that didnt suit him. Much better to wait a year. Good luck. If there's anything else, give me a shout. Happy to help.

fossil971 Fri 13-Sep-13 23:17:56

We are off to a uni. open day tomorrow so maybe that will put things in perspective as to what is realistic/achievable, and hopefully be inspiring too.

Rummikub Fri 13-Sep-13 23:43:39

Great idea. There might be a continuing education dept there too that does Saturday/ weekend courses.

Anthracite Sat 14-Sep-13 07:59:30

Write to the head teacher of nearby independent schools. They are usually quite happy to take external candidates.

whendidyoulast Sat 14-Sep-13 13:15:10

My school allows students to sit their exams with us as external candidates BUT that's literally all they do, turn up and sit their exams. It is possible to do A Level exams that way but only if they don't involve coursework and I honestly don't know what happens in that scenario.

If you phone up a centre listed by AQA the exams officer will be able to give advice.

fossil971 Sat 14-Sep-13 21:18:19

I think the A levels in question did involve coursework, etc so that would have been an issue. We think access course is the way to go; university have reinforced that so we just need to find a place. He's keen to get to university in 2014 if possible. There are a couple of universities that do humanities foundation year but TBH that looks like an expensive option.

kangarooshoes Sat 14-Sep-13 23:30:05

If he's never done A levels, I think a level 3 course should be funded.

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