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HE: Oxbridge and other Unis

(118 Posts)
Crummymum Fri 16-Nov-12 11:33:26


I'm looking to home ed my DS at secondary level (in a year's time). I'm just starting to investigate the ins and outs of this, but I was talking with an Oxford-educated friend of mine about this and he said that Oxbridge don't like home educated children and usually won't take them. Is this true? And what is their rationale? My DC may not want to study there when they reach that stage, but I wouldn't like to think I'd reduced their options.

Also, how do universities in general feel about exams being taken 1,2,3 at a time, rather than 9 or so GCSE's or 3 A'levels all being taken in one year?

Any advice would be really appreciated smile

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 13:49:53

* most unis are shifting towards "criterion based admissions" in which the early stages of the admissions process (if not all of it) is done by admissions administrators rather than academics using a rigidly specified set of criteria. Exceptions can still be made for applicants with less conventional CVs, but IMO these are likely to be increasingly rare.*

I think that you really need to check. I have 10yrs between my eldest and my youngest and things are not the same as they were for the eldest. You may never get the chance to shine-personally I wouldn't let my DCs risk it.
My friend who HEs let her DCs take the GCSEs that interested them by going into school just for the particular lessons, but they all went full time in the 6th form-it seemed a sensible insurance policy to me and got them into the universities of their choice. I dare say they overlooked the lack of GCSEs because they had proved their worth by the A'levels.

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 13:51:52

Bedales will have a well known track record-someone educated at home is an entirely unknown quantity-not all are going to bother to find out about them.

julienoshoes Sat 17-Nov-12 14:28:41

Cost is the big implication for home educators on a very limited income.

IME HE young people do what they have to to get into Uni...the young people I know...and there are lots of them at uni now, find out what they need and go for it.
But again IME they don't do loads of GCSEs that they don't need. Why would they?
And I didn't see the point of spending time doing GCSE work when they didn't need to.

I'm not criticizing others choices...we just made these choices when we home educated and discovered it wasn't necessary to do years of formal work, to get to the stage where the children could do we didn't do any formal work at all, just had a wonderful life, facilitating what the children wanted.
Then when they were ready they did the qualifications required to get where they wanted to go.

As did all the formerly (thanks SDEuchards) HE young people at loads of different unis all over the country right now-including Oxbridge and the RG.

sieglinde Sat 17-Nov-12 15:05:14

Yes, I'd look at OU. We have a kind of conversion table smile

julie, just saying again that Oxford will expect 8+ GCSEs or equivalent. We'd be happy with other exams, like the IB or OU, but not NO exams. Agree that this should not involve years of formal work.

julienoshoes Sat 17-Nov-12 17:25:56

Yes, I understand that Oxbridge would expect evidence that a student can study to the required level.
The HE youngsters I know who have been there/are there now, have looked at it logically, understood what they were aiming for, and got the necessary evidence.

seeker Sat 17-Nov-12 17:29:58


And saying that HEers don't want to do GCSEs because it involves 30 hours a week for 2 years of soul destroying work is just silly.

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 18:10:14

The sensible thing is to check first and not assume. The HEer's blog that I read has no idea. I was a bit amazed at her plan A for DD1 and asked a friend whose DCs have gone the same route if it was realistic. She thought not-it obviously wasn't because Plan A was never mentioned again and they are onto Plan B which also sounds unrealistic-that has gone quiet too. I keep reading to see what happens in the end.
The GCSE's can't take 30 hours a week for 2 years-and a lot of the work is stuff they would need to cover anyway. All I can see is that you don't have a completely free range of which books you read, which period of history you study etc-but then you never do at university. There will be parts of the course that you love more than others.

julienoshoes Sat 17-Nov-12 20:28:34

you'd have laughed at my plan then exoticfruits...I didn't have one!

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 22:43:55

I wouldn't risk it-it is way too important to just hope. I wouldn't laugh-just be a bit surprised.

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 22:44:54

I think that people need the right advice.

sieglinde Sun 18-Nov-12 12:02:34

Think we are all on the same page, in that all of us see that many unis will ask for exams, but I did meet many HE parents who had 16-year-old children and realised suddenly that their kids would need GCSEs or equivalent; some were horrified and amazed to discover this. I got a bit sad and shock

exoticfruits Sun 18-Nov-12 12:08:28

If you think about it it is only fair-why should the majority slog away at a syllabus and work hard for 2 years and then others swan in saying airily 'we wanted to do our own thing-exams are soul destroying so we didn't bother!'

They should start with a level playing field-exams first-and then find out more.

SDeuchars Sun 18-Nov-12 15:22:09

The GCSE's can't take 30 hours a week for 2 years-and a lot of the work is stuff they would need to cover anyway.

FWIW, I didn't say that I thought exams were only for drones and HEers should have special dispensation. I was specifically addressing the question of why HEers might not just do 9 GCSEs anyway. My comment about 30 hours per week for two years was a reference to what happens in school in years 10 and 11. I'm not sure what exoticfruits means by the above comment. A lot of what happens in GCSE courses is not stuff that needs to be covered.

For example, ICT GCSE is extremely dull. My DC covered very similar material in about 40 hours of ECDL (after several years of using ICT for real purposes). I am not suggesting that this reflects badly on young people who take ICT GCSE - it is a problem with the school system which is concerned with teaching what can be tested (rather than testing what is worthwhile to know). Several GCSEs basically test that the student can follow step-by-step instructions.

My DS is currently doing A-levels and is applying for university. He has no GCSEs but he has 210 OU credits. That surely shows that he can read, write and understand at the appropriate level for tertiary education. He is doing A-levels to show that he is competent for the specific courses he wants to study. We did research how to access what he wants to do and we had a number of options available - he has chosen to do A-levels because that is the relatively no-brainer option for admissions tutors.

exoticfruits Sun 18-Nov-12 15:49:49

I think it is fair enough to offer alternatives - you need to do your research first to find what is needed.
They should all have some qualifications, something on paper to prove they are up to the course. It doesn't have to be GCSEs or even A'levels but I was really talking about the type of HEer that I read in the blog who thinks her DD can waltz in with nothing and get a place above those who have put in the hard slog. Apparently the admission tutor should just recognise her talents without any proof on paper! She has gone all quiet on the subject so probably it was fair and she didn't manage it.
I also think it very dangerous to circulate stories of DCs who do manage top universities with no qualifications- parents think it is the norm and not the exception. Most DCs are average, even MN DCs and HEers DCs!

seeker Sun 18-Nov-12 17:40:49

"Because home education is about more than exams and we don't necessarily want to spend the best part of 30 hours a week for two years doing (often soul-destroying) GCSE work"

Well, sDeuchars, the above certainly should to me as if you're saying that you think in order to get 9GCSEs you have to spend 30 hours a week for 2 years doing. (often soul destroying) work. Forgive me if I'm wrong...........

TravelinColour Sun 18-Nov-12 18:06:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

seeker Sun 18-Nov-12 18:54:30

Well, in my dd's case, lots of sport and music and drama. And travelling to and from school. And changing lessons. And waiting for teachers to turn up. And breaks and lunchtime and assemblies. And all the stuff the absence of which makes HE a more effective and efficient way of learning.

People do talk as if "maths" and "GCSE maths" are somehow two completely different subjects. But they aren't. You do maths. Some of it will be relevant to GCSE maths- some isn't. You just make sure that enough of the relevant stuff is included- and there you are,

exoticfruits Sun 18-Nov-12 18:54:45

The 6 hours a day is when they are at school with PE, lunch, form periods etc. The DC at home doesn't even have to waste time commuting so they could manage in half the time and still have most of he day free.

exoticfruits Sun 18-Nov-12 18:55:12

Cross posted with same thought.

julienoshoes Sun 18-Nov-12 21:06:53

"why should the majority slog away at a syllabus"

because their parents choose to send them to school?....or like me previously, simply don't know that home education is an option?

I'm not criticising anyone's choices. One of my passions is that everyone should know that home education is a legal viable option, so that parents can make an informed choice about what is right for their families at that time.

But you don't have to spend 11 years at school following a curriculum..nor even home educate formally, in order to get to the stage where they can start a course leading to qualifications.

exoticfruits Sun 18-Nov-12 21:19:08

They should all start with the same. Qualifications on paper- whatever they are- before anything else is looked at, otherwise it is unfair. Luckily I think that a lot of modern selection methods sift first.
Home education doesn't mean that you can't get formal qualifications. A poster was complaining only a few weeks ago that doors had been closed to her because she had the misfortune to have a mother who didn't believe that exams were necessary. She was finding life very hard getting them in later life.

julienoshoes Sun 18-Nov-12 21:21:13

We home educated autonomously and completely informally, because we had such brilliant examples in front of us, and because our children had been so badly damaged by school, that structured formal work didn't suit them at all.

We've found it is a really efficient way of learning-through living life and enjoying yourselves, right up until the children decided to take themselves to FE college or do an OU course. And yes I have parented a child who went all the way through the school system, so know that this way is best for us.
Once they had decided on the direction they wanted to take, we facilitated that as we had everything else they wanted to do, and they researched what was needed qualification wise and went for it.

I looked at the Russell Group list of Universities, when I last joined in this conversation...and I know of formerly autonomously home educated young people within our close friends circle at Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Oxford, Edinburgh, Imperial College, Nottingham, and Warwick, right now.
I know of others who have been through others Unis on that list and done very well.
All of them informally educated with no curriculum, and no formal work.....until the youngster chose to move things to a more formal basis, and start some sort of qualifications in order to get into the Uni of their choice.

It may be your choice, but it works for us and thousands of others.

exoticfruits Sun 18-Nov-12 21:24:40

I don't quite understand- your last sentence appears to be saying that they have the necessary formal qualifications.

julienoshoes Sun 18-Nov-12 21:35:34

They do...but we didn't need to do formal work, or follow a curriculum for years in order to get to the stage where they could start the required courses, or tackling the work needed to do the exams.

I do know of an occasional Home educator who has got into a more 'creative arts' based course with a portfolio of work...but that is not what we are talking about here is it?

exoticfruits Sun 18-Nov-12 21:45:49

We are at completely cross purposes then. I couldn't care less what they do earlier- how they learn is up to the individual. I do expect them to research what they need to get a place and do it, like everyone else, and not expect special treatment.
Creative arts based courses need a portfolio for everyone. My DS's course was based on his portfolio more than exam results - he knew that and so he produced one. If you know a course needs 3 A's at A'level then you should produce them(or an equivalent)

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