DS is not progressing at school; is HE an option for a single parent working full time?

(18 Posts)
LewisFanIsBack Tue 25-Oct-16 00:58:51

I am just considering all options at the moment.

DS has a few issues (Dyspraxia, mild ASD, constant bullying at school and completely disengaged from subjects due to bad experiences with teachers) - are any of these barriers to HE?

Also, where on EARTH does one begin to explore this enormous responsibility? I am a post-grad student at the moment, then will be working full time, but my DM may do some school stuff with him during the day, if it isn't too taxing on her grey matter!

Can I ask you to help me understand the whole HE scene - I realise he wouldn't HAVE to do "subjects" like at school, but can you get on in life without GCSEs in English, Maths and Science? (he's thinking of becoming a counsellor / youth worker type person, or working with animals)

DS hasn't made any progress level-wise since Year 7; he's made one sub-level progress in some subjects during the whole of Y8 and school are completely blocking my requests for support.... so I need to act, but I just don't know how...

help, please!

(sorry if that doesn't make sense - I'll clarify any bits anyone needs grin )

LewisFanIsBack Tue 25-Oct-16 00:59:55

oh I forgot - he's 14, just entered Y9

Saracen Tue 25-Oct-16 05:39:46

You and your son and your DM will certainly be able to arrange a very good education for him outside of school. There are many resources and possible avenues. Home ed is a big project, yes, but you have years in which to get your heads round all the details and try different things - especially if you remember that timescales are more flexible than at school. For example, if he does decide to do some GCSEs then there is no particular need to finish them at 16. He could, for instance, undertake a few "catch-up" GCSEs at college after 16 if necessary. They won't offer the full range of subjects but maths, science and English should be available. You could keep that as a back-up plan.

It seems to me that for most HE kids with single parents who are away for many hours, the main challenge is not academic. It is ensuring that their social and emotional needs are met and that they are safe. That will depend on the individual needs of the child and on available support from family and community. For example (and these are all rhetorical questions):
Will his grandma be around much?
Will you be around much while you're studying?
Are there other friends and family he can see sometimes?
Does he like spending time alone?
Is he okay to be left at home unsupervised?
What will his days look like? If he might get lonely, can you tackle that? Will he be able to get out of the house enough and have variety in his days?

To take an extreme example, if you were gone for ten hours a day and he saw no one else during that time and was stuck at home unable to get out into the community, that could be very dull and isolating for him, if you see what I mean - or even dangerous if he is inclined to make bad decisions when he has too much time on his hands.

"DS has a few issues (Dyspraxia, mild ASD, constant bullying at school and completely disengaged from subjects due to bad experiences with teachers) - are any of these barriers to HE?" Those all sound like major barriers to continuing in school!!! I'd look at it from the POV that if things are that terrible at school, HE is unlikely to be worse, so HE seems like the obvious starting point.

If I were you, I'd do what you can to ensure he can be safe and happy at home, by arranging things so there will be a trusted adult around much of the time even if not for the whole day. Then whip him out of school ASAP. Give him at least a few months off to recover, just doing things he enjoys, without requiring any academic work of him. (This phase is called "deschooling" and is often recommended for kids coming out of school, especially those who have had a tough time at school.) Meanwhile, join some home ed internet forums and chat about your son's interests and ambitions to get some ideas for possible approaches to his education. Get into your local home ed community. If you have time, you could meet some other parents of teens for face-to-face discussions about how they are tackling education. (You will be amazed at how many different ways there are to do it!!!) Even if you can't meet up with other families, it's still good to have your ear to the ground and discover what is available locally - an animal shelter which accepts young volunteers, or a good college course, or an interesting place to visit.

Good luck! I think it quite likely that you can make this work.

BarbarianMum Wed 26-Oct-16 12:45:55

<<can you get on in life without GCSEs in English, Maths and Science? (he's thinking of becoming a counsellor / youth worker type person, or working with animals)>>

Yes it's possible but entry to certain jobs/training schemes/career progression etc is likely to be harder (and in some cases impossible) without them, or something like an NVQ to take their place. I think it would depend on what exactly he had in mind (so, for instance, a lot of working with animals type jobs require you to read and process written information well, and to be reasonably numerate even if you don't necessarily need gcses to show you can)

Bluepowder Thu 27-Oct-16 15:03:07

My local college takes students with just two E s at GCSE to do animal care and other vocational courses. Students need to take additional qualifications in literacy and numeracy whilst on the course. It might be worth investigating colleges nearby, so you have some idea of what to aim for.

yesterdaysunshine Thu 27-Oct-16 15:06:02

It's very limiting though, isn't it? I am in favour of Home Ed but at 14 and from the sounds of things not entering him for his GCSEs? Not sure about that, sorry.

Bluepowder Thu 27-Oct-16 15:09:14

He can take IGCSEs.

Manumission Thu 27-Oct-16 15:12:24

Have you looked at the 14-16 offer at FE colleges near you? Maybe they have something available in the social care type fields? So that could be an option from next September.

He can attend college from 16 anyway (3 years away) and follow vocational routes there.

Either way, Maths/English GCSEs or Numeracy/Literacy qualifications will be compulsory alongside the main course.

If you look at options of that sort, then really your dilemma is how to arrange something that bridges that 1-3 year gap.

WalterWhitesNipple Thu 27-Oct-16 15:48:23

I would look at different schools first.

itsstillgood Thu 27-Oct-16 18:42:32

Contact your local home education group and find out what arrangements locals make. It varies a lot by area but HEers have become very good at banding together and arranging exam access and tutorials. At the extreme level my local group runs a private exam centre. Out of curiosity when my eldest (who goes to school) was taking his options last year we compared the choice he had at school with what he could do via our HE group and he could do all the basics Inc a language and had a wider choice if he had gone for HE. He couldn't do drama which he wanted to though but I do know another HE group has arrangements to do it so possible. Before you think no GCSEs do have a chat with someone local. Our arrangements are very rare but groups are tending to arrange group tutorials, college assess, access to exam centres etc so find out what happens locally.
As to everything else you asked I agree very much with Saracen that there are so many options with in home education that the academic side is the easiest to arrange and you need to be thinking about whether he would be happy and safe, how you can keep him socially active during the day etc. Again first stage is to find out about local activities.

Hezaire Sun 30-Oct-16 20:47:06

Will he be able to get suitable practical skills for science etc? I'd look at other schools first but be mindful many schools start their GCSEs in y9

SisterViktorine Sun 30-Oct-16 20:53:29

Have you got a studio school near you? The one near me has an agricultural/ husbandry focus and is sited at the agricultural college. Think they only have 300 students.

Seems like something along those line might suit him better.

LewisFanIsBack Wed 02-Nov-16 09:56:49

Thanks everyone. Sorry it took me so long to respond... life dared to get in the way!

Does anyone know how I'd find local HE groups? I've searched the council website and not had too much joy.

Also, could someone give me an idea about how you structure HE as I've got to explain to my mother how he won't necessarily be doing "lessons" which is not going well! grin

After another meeting with school, I'm fast coming to the conclusion that it isn't the right place for him

Thanks again...

MouldyPeach Wed 02-Nov-16 10:05:45

As much as I loathe facebook it is the only place I've been able to connect with other HEers in my area and it's been great for that, a real sanity saver. Search home education [your area]

Manumission Wed 02-Nov-16 10:07:49

Tell her he's going to be fortunate enough to experience tailor-made, individualised learning smile

knittingwithnettles Fri 04-Nov-16 23:10:47

I know plenty of 14 year olds who are home educated (I'm in London) Okay they are spread a bit thinly but there is a plenty of social life to be had in Parks Groups and other workshoppy based activities. Some children certainly go to these themselves at 14, but I would think you need to start with some sort of adult taking them for first few months,just to meet the other parents and gauge what is around. Some 14 year olds attend group classes set up for home educators, much more flexible and informal than full fledged school day, but still offering a modicum of structured "classroom" learning. And there are online courses in various gsces offered, just google. The main thing is to meet all the other parents and then you build up a picture of how a 14 year old negotiates home ed.

Ds2 had dyslexia and ASD and thrived being home educated for 2 years . he is back in school now as I applied for an EHCP, because there was the perfect school nearby for him, which he needed an EHCP for, but in a different situation I think he would have been happy to continue home education and I would have cobbled together some arrangement for at least 5 GSCEs. He had lots of social life whilst home educating which he had not had at school (finally friends and playdates). I was a SAHM though, with two other children in school, however, there were mums/dads who worked who home educated flexibly, and had childcare to accompany child to activities. You can also of course home ed at weekends!!!! Home education is nothing if not flexible, but ds DID need company, I think he would not have liked being left to do work by himself at all or alone in the house.

knittingwithnettles Fri 04-Nov-16 23:14:55

I would go for it, if you feel you are getting nowhere with the school. You have nothing to lose but your chains!!!! I would recommend a certain period of detoxing though, when you try to rekindle his confidence through informal learning and socialising rather than worry about school work too much. Mental health is a priceless thing in a teen. I did lots of academic work with ds at home too, 2 hours a day perhaps? Nothing in the evenings though, so you could change the timing to suit your work commitments.

knittingwithnettles Fri 04-Nov-16 23:19:33

Your council should have information on elective home education and somewhere in there there are often links to HE umbrella organisations. Education Otherwise is a famous one. Best of all, find just one local home educator and go along to just one group, can often be v informative. There are often home ed Fairs too, with lots of advice in one place, but usually in Sept. There is no such thing as an official home education organisation, you have to remember it is not about bureaucracy but freedom and you really do have to organise things yourself - noone will do it for you. Often the mistake new home educators make is to assume there is going to be a "right" way and someone will be the "leader" but it isn't really like that.

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