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Please could someone talk me through this?

(7 Posts)
JoeBloggs123 Tue 24-Nov-15 14:32:46

NC regular, would rather this wasn't under my usual name.

Ds is in yr 10 and is going to pieces. He's not academic at all, is disengaged and occasionally school refuses.
He has an unofficial diagnosis of ASD with associated MH problems.
He is very focused on engines, can happily and confidently work on them and has a high level of knowledge, and we think that becoming an apprentice mechanic will be the thing for him to do.
We have been given dire warnings about not having GCSEs.
Does anyone know what options we would have if we took him out of school?
We wouldn't be able to afford online school (unless there is something free or very cheap). I'm not a teacher, so not sure I could give him the level of education he presumably needs.
School is not working, we're getting to the end of our tether and really don't know what to do with him!

ommmward Tue 24-Nov-15 17:29:48

Oh, poor lad!


Find out how many GCSEs he needs to be an apprentice mechanic. Find out whether he needs to do them aged 16, or whether doing them aged 17 would be fine as well.

There are all sorts of ways of managing this, ranging from working-through-the-syllabus-with-him-at-home through getting-into-groups-with-other-home-ed-teens-to-prepare-for-exams through getting-him-accepted-at-a-college-to-do-GCSEs to getting-a-tutor-for-him-when-you-win-the-lottery.

It is all going to be alright. Join that yahoo group. Get yourself hooked up with local home educators who can tell you what is out there in terms of support network and study groups and things in your area.

JoeBloggs123 Tue 24-Nov-15 19:48:11

All very confusing as he's not had a bad day today and made plans to meet up with friends later in the week.
It's all fine until he goes through a bad patch, then it becomes very difficult.

I had a meeting with the careers advisor a while ago, she said that at the very least he will need English and maths, but we have a problem in our area that loads of apprenticeships are going to older adults as they are believed to be more reliable. We're hoping that ds's complete passion for engines will shine through and help him in that respect.

Thank you for the links, I'll read them later when the dc are asleep and I can concentrate on them!

Good to know that we're not without options. Thank you.

QueenStreaky Tue 24-Nov-15 21:40:42

My son with autism and ADHD did IGCSEs as an external candidate at a local high school, which is how most home educated kids take exams. He worked through the syllabus with tutors I got from the nearest university, which worked out very reasonable for cost and also they worked to our spec, in the way we wanted, and that met his autism needs. Students will do anything for a bacon sandwich wink. I found ours through University Tutor if you're interested in that approach.

You'll get lots of useful info and advice from the links ommmward has given you, too.

Saracen Tue 24-Nov-15 23:40:34

Taking a different angle, as your son is so disengaged with formal learning at the moment, what about having a few years off from that to focus on practical things? Not school, not college, not GCSEs, not a formal apprenticeship requiring work on English and maths.

You could let him work on his beloved engines instead. He could just play, try to fix things, watch YouTube videos. If he learns well from being with other people, put him together with others who like to fix engines. It doesn't have to be A Proper Apprenticeship with all that that entails.

It's true that in the long run certain careers do require certain qualifications, and that may well require academic work. But maybe he needs a break from academics to restore his happiness and self-esteem. That's more likely to happen if he's working on something he loves and is good at. Then he can go on to work toward qualifications later when he sees the need. There's no rush.

Even if the dire warnings about not having GCSEs are true, which they might be, there is no deadline. At school, everyone has to do things at just the same age. They'll have you believe that a 16yo with no exam passes has missed his chance and is now doomed. The obsession with age-linked performance targets doesn't hold sway elsewhere in society. What's so special about 16?

JoeBloggs123 Wed 25-Nov-15 10:49:12

That's interesting Saracen, I didn't know that, I thought GCSEs had to be done at a certain age!
We're going to take things slowly, see how he gets on with more support in school.
I think coming out and doing what you suggest Saracen would suit him down to the ground, so it's brilliant to know that that could be an option for him. I would worry that he would never go back to academic studying though and this could affect his career potential when he's older.

I remember being at school and the massive emphasis put on GCSEs and how important they were, to find that once you've left school no-one is interested. I wonder if that's still the case.

Saracen Wed 25-Nov-15 21:18:03

It's impossible to predict whether having GCSEs will matter to your son. Depends on his career, the opinions of his individual prospective employers etc. IME it can matter for young people who want to do a more advanced qualification, say at college. Some colleges are prepared to be somewhat flexible and others are not. It also matters in job applications, but only when choosing between candidates who have little else to recommend them other than their GCSE results. But if one of the candidates has demonstrable relevant experience and enthusiasm, he wins hands down. Freeing up time to acquire that experience at an early age can be a good career move.

You don't have a crystal ball, so you don't know whether GCSEs will matter to his future prospects. But if he is very reluctant to work towards GCSEs anyway, then perhaps continuing to try to force him to do so is counterproductive.

I do understand your worry that if he doesn't get some academics under his belt now, he might never do it. This is the prevailing view within the school system. I think it goes something like this: "Academic study is unpleasant. People will never do it voluntarily. But it's essential. So we must force young people to do it while they remain under our control. Once they've left, the opportunity is lost." This is why the legal school leaving age coincides with GCSEs and why there is this emphasis on doing GCSEs at the usual age.

But I think if someone is disinclined to learn about something, all we can do is wait until he has a compelling reason to do it, and leave it up to him. For your son, that reason hasn't yet arrived. It may come when prospective employers don't want him because he has no GCSEs, or when he has his heart set on an engineering course which won't take him without GCSEs. It won't be too late to do them at that stage, unless he has had such a bellyful of forced study that he has been turned off learning completely.

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