Student NG - currently studying Liberal Arts at Exeter University, 2013 entry.
Daughter 'NG' was home educated from the age of 8 - 16. Along with her siblings, she had a semi-structured education anchored in lots of museum workshops, drama, music, dance and other sports. She was ready for more structured study from the age of 13, and had a mixture of exam study groups with a shared tutor and self study including Catherine Mooney courses. She took 10 IGCSES spread over 4 exam sessions. In what would have been her year 9 she took Biology (A*) and Chemistry (B) and Art (D) and Drama (D) - this was a steep learning curve in understanding that more creative subjects are NOT easier!! She ended up with 1 A*, 4 As, 2 Bs and 1 C. Disappointed with a grade C in English Literature, she then took two Open University short courses - Creative Writing and an Introduction to Shakespeare - which she passed well and definitely developed her critical writing skills.
She chose to study English Literature, Biology, Psychology and Geography at sixth form. The school usually required an A in any subject to be taken at A level, but they listened to our explanation of her 'different' skill set (self discipline, motivation, time management, perseverance etc) and after an impromptu bit of poetry analysis in an interview with the head of sixth form, allowed her to take English Literature. Within the first month she was achieving top marks in her essays, and ended up with 100% for her A2 coursework with her essays printed off at school as exemplars. She gained an A* in the full A level. .
In terms of her university application process there was never any query or hesitation about her GCSEs, which while solid are not sparkling or extraordinary and were spread over 3 years. She was offered places to read Psychology at Sheffield, Bath, Exeter and Nottingham (AAA to AAB) but in the end chose Liberal Arts at Exeter (AAA) which she loves.
As a footnote, I would like to also tell another part to her story. At the time of her A level mocks, she found an opportunity to join a Silver Arts Award subsidised by the British Film Institute, and spent her study leave on a 10 day film making course (school not told!) She then began to make short films and joined a weekly 'young film-maker' group in Oxford. This subsequently lead to a two week residential course at the National Film and Television School and a clear idea of where she wants to go in the longer term with her career. At University she is enjoying every opportunity to further this aim by producing, directing, script-writing, stage managing, filming and editing - all extra-curricular to her degree. I am certain that her strong self-discipline, enthusiasm and passion for living and learning come from her Home Education background where academic study was not rammed down her throat and her creativity and self determination have been allowed to flourish.
Editor: I love the idea of her bunking study leave to do the film course!
I do think that's almost the most important aspect of her educational experiences - she took responsibility to organise herself and look beyond the short term and narrow limitations of school exams. She didn't see there was much value in putting all her energies into 'mock' exams 4 months before the actual exams!