I promised this blog post quite some time ago but then life got in the way so apologies. As our youngest of four enters his final term in full time home school it seems a good time to pause and reflect. It has been quite a journey and most of it is outlined HERE.
The latest wee achievement is that George has been given a place at university despite not having the usual qualifications. Firstly, well done to George and secondly well done to the University of Highlands and Islands for having an enlightened approach to admissions. Some years ago our eldest, Molly, achieved the same by securing a place at the University of Lincoln but she had followed a far more recognised route as she was always aiming for university. George was not until he did a U turn and sent us into a bit of a spin!
The boys have (or will in Max’s case) followed the same route by taking far more vocationally orientated qualifications preparing then for work rather than further study as that was their choice. It is still Harry’s choice (number 2 child and now 20) as he is mid way through a plastering apprenticeship with a master plasterer. However, and this is the important bit, I always made sure whatever they chose the qualifications were accredited at level 3 on the Qualifications and credit framework Harry took 3 subjects at level 3 (Sports, health and Exercise, Sports Nutrition & Professional Cookery). In the English system they were EQUIVALENT to A levels and in the Scottish system just above Highers.
With those qualifications in his back pocket he entered the workplace but he could have applied for university. Not every university is as enlightened as the University of Highlands and Islands but increasingly the picture is changing. University admissions have been directed to consider a wide range of qualifications but you must make sure they are fully accredited and recognised on the Qualification and credit framework. If in doubt ask the college or ask me!
All Harry’s qualifications were completed through distance learning colleges with great success. We had to pick and choose a wee bit to get it right for him. George then followed his example but choosing level 3 diploma in Animal Care as his first one. He had thought he wanted to work with animals but then changed his mind when the Duke of Edinburgh expedition highlighted his love of the outdoors and, in particular, adventure sports. He now kayaks, trail runs and mountain bikes. He stumbled across a university degree in Adventure Tourism and that was it. He did look around for similar courses in other institutions but found none and he was not interested in any other course.
This is also important. I contacted the university and pitched his qualifications and experience to them to see whether, in theory, he could apply. The programme leader very kindly looked it over and affirmed that George should apply. George applied for entry in 2017 and held his breath. None of my children have lots of qualifications as I am totally against that system. But they all have, at least, their level 2 maths and English (equivalent to GCSE) and then a wee clutch of level 3s. You will probably find that your children can hop to level 3 quite quickly.
We were delighted when George got a place at university. He passed his animal care level 3 with distinction and is currently studying a level 3 diploma in Tourism Management from Stonebridge College and also a Higher in Photography via the local High School as the option became available. Having tried a number of distance learning colleges Stonebridge is our favourite. They give you little more than the module outline and a question paper and you have to do all the research yourself. This approach builds very strong research and study skills. They mark work quickly and all their administration is efficient. They are to be recommended.
George will soon be taking a gap year to earn some money before going to university in September 2017. Our youngest, Max, is now about to start his Maths and English levels 2 and take one level 3 at the same time. No decisions on what that will be yet. If we could we let our children have the complete home school experience until they turned 16 and only then did we introduce qualifications. The boys charged through their level 2s in Maths and English with ease and took a level 3 at the same time because they had the self belief to do it.
Max may be like Harry and go into the workplace but he may still choose further study. He will now take one level 3 diploma for the next three years meaning he will be 19 when he finishes and this was the same for Harry. I teach my children that life is not a sprint but a marathon and therefore having an additional year in education is no bad thing. It gives them time and space to think things through and even change direction as George did.
Home education has been a complete privilege. Both Pete and I have been involved although I have done more of it and he has worked. When we made the decision we knew we would probably have to live like church mice as one of us would also have to be home but that has never bothered us. We have had the most amazing experiences with our children. More importantly our children have grown into confident individuals with an acute sense of self belief and we couldn’t ask for anything more. They all shine in their different ways.
Molly is completing her Masters in species recovery at Nottingham Trent University. She is fast becoming a shining light in seabird research and I sense will have an academic year of some sorts going forward.
Harry is mid way through a demanding but rewarding, on the job, apprenticeship with a master plaster (and will never be out of a job)! He remains a fitness guru and a body builder and now trains other people including his dad!
George is putting everything in place to be ready for university in 2017 including attaining his gold Duke of Edinburgh award. He is an experience and able trail runner with many compteitions booked for the coming season.
Max is last passed the post and the past two years one to one with him have been a joy. He is now making his first decisions. He too is working towards his gold Duke of Edinburgh award at the age of just 16.
Job done and what an honour.