Find a course
Knowledge Hub » GCSEs » Homeschooling for GCSEs – Everything You Need to Know

Homeschooling for GCSEs – Everything You Need to Know

GCSE is an acronym that stands for ‘General Certificate of Secondary Education’ and all young people in full-time public education in the UK are required to take these examinations. GCSEs are the first widely recognised academic achievements that young people will possess, and they serve as a vital stepping stone into further education (such as A-Levels or degree-level qualifications) and you also need these if you wish to secure an apprenticeship or leave education and seek full-time employment.

Despite the fact that GCSEs are considered to be such a vital qualification, young people that are homeschooled are not required to sit them, or any other form of examination. This is because homeschoolers do not have to follow the national curriculum: they are considered to be privately educated, and the only requirement they must follow is that their children receive a full-time and age-appropriate education. However, although it is not a legal requirement, many homeschooled pupils do choose to sit GCSE examinations. They do so as private candidates within a registered examination centre. Because GCSEs are widely regarded as an important qualification and the basic educational standard that all young people should achieve, many homeschooled pupils pursue these so that they can have the same opportunities as mainstream-educated students.

But why should you homeschool for GCSEs? How can you study from home? And how should you organise your exams and your revision? Here’s everything you need to know about homeschooling for GCSEs:

Why Homeschool for GCSEs

There are many benefits of choosing to homeschool in general and choosing to homeschool for GCSEs specifically. Some of the main benefits of choosing to homeschool your child for their GCSEs include:

  • Creating your own curriculum. Children who are homeschooled do not have to follow the national curriculum, meaning that they have the freedom to learn about the subjects that interest them or that matter to them most. Choosing some GCSE subjects to study is a good baseline for your learning, but you will still have the freedom to learn diverse subjects and to learn at your own pace too. None of this is possible in a traditional school environment.
  • Learn in a one-to-one environment. Traditional high schools offer one teacher per class of at least 30 students. However, in a home learning environment, children are offered one-to-one teaching. This means that they get direct attention and support, and can work through their lessons at their own pace. They can also ask for and immediately get support when they need it. When you are working with your child on a one-to-one basis it enables you to tailor the lesson content precisely to their needs, interests and abilities.
  • Reduced risk of bullying and peer pressure. Unfortunately, bullying is a very real concern in UK secondary schools, and young people that are bullied tend to perform less well in their examinations. They have trouble focusing in class and experience difficulty forming friendship groups. Homeschooling can remove these concerns, and is a great option for children that, for whatever reason, don’t fit into a traditional school environment. A welcoming home education group or community may simply be a better fit for your child.
  • Access to a welcoming homeschooling community. It is a myth that children who are homeschooled lack social skills. In fact, homeschooling families form tight-knit communities and home educators regularly take their children to groups and clubs. It’s not uncommon for home educators to be with other families every day. Many of these will enhance their children’s life skills and could prove particularly beneficial to certain GCSE subjects: It is also possible to form study groups with other homeschooling children who are taking the same GCSEs.
  • Flexibility. Studies have shown that teenagers have a naturally delayed sleep rhythm, meaning that they find it hard to get up for school in the morning. This can be frustrating both for the teenagers and for the parents trying to get them up and out to school. With homeschooling at GCSE level, you have the flexibility to adapt lessons to your child’s sleep schedules, teaching them when they are most alert and maximising their ability to learn when and where suits them best. This will stop GCSE revision from feeling like a chore, and instead, make it easier to manage.

How to Study from Home

If you’re considering homeschooling for GCSEs, then it’s likely that you’re already an established homeschooler with a well-prepared homeschooling set-up. But if you’re not then you may be wondering how to study from home. The five most important things you need to do in order to study successfully from home are:

  1. Establish a Routine. You don’t have to study at the same time every day (many homeschoolers step away from conventional learning because they don’t want a strict and structured classroom environment) but you should have a learning routine in place. This could be as simple as carving out the same amount of time to study your chosen subject each day, or ensuring that you complete some mental arithmetic as soon as you get out of bed.
  2. Have a Dedicated Study Area. A messy working environment is indicative of a messy mind, and no one should be working in front of the television or where they have access to the distractions of other electronic devices. All home learners should have a dedicated study area where they know they will find the materials and tools that they need to succeed. For many homeschoolers, this is a school room or a dedicated desk, but even if your study area is the dining room table when you’re not eating meals, try to work in the same place every day and carve out a dedicated study area where you can concentrate on your work, free from distractions.
  3. Don’t Forget Your Social Time. No one should be working all the time, and this is especially true for homeschoolers who may not get the set and enforced periods of time away from their school work that a conventional educational environment provides. Spend time away from your study space developing other hobbies, and ensure that you have time to socialise with your friends, family and other homeschoolers. Social development is just as important as academic development.
  4. Create a Study Plan and Share It with Others. Sharing your study plan with your parents, tutors, or even your friends is a great way to hold yourself accountable. If you have shared your study plan with more than one person then you will feel a greater obligation to stick to it.
  5. Eat Well, Sleep Well. Taking care of yourself is essential if you plan to study from home. Your overall well-being will have a direct impact on your educational well-being, so the more you are able to take care of yourself, the more successful you are likely to be.

Doing GCSEs at Home

Studying for GCSEs from home is much easier than you might think. You will use the same course materials and read the same books and research tools as those students in mainstream education, but you will be free to do this at your own pace and set your own schedule. GCSEs are perhaps one of the easiest qualifications to study for at home because even those students in mainstream education will revise for their examinations at home independently. If you have a strong work ethic and a determination to succeed, then you should find it easy to study for your chosen qualifications at home, and with the support of your homeschooling team.

Studying GCSEs through home learning with parent

The Best GCSEs to Study at Home

One of the main benefits of homeschooling is that you have much more flexibility to focus on your child’s strengths and weaknesses: you are not confined to the national curriculum, or to a teacher’s rigid work plan. Therefore, you can work closely with your child to help them decide which subject they want to study. The best GCSEs to study at home are ones that form a significant role in their passions and interests: if you’re genuinely interested in a subject then you’re more likely to succeed when you study it. Focusing on your interests plays to your strengths, and this is the best route to achieving the highest possible grades. You should also consider what your child wants to do when they finish home education: some career paths, A-levels or degree courses will require that you have specific GCSEs. Passing grades in English and Maths are commonly requested, so if further education is their ultimate goal, they might wish to consider taking on both of these subjects.

As a home educator, as well as choosing the GCSEs that are best to study at home, you will also need to assess which exam board offers the best examination for home learners, or for your child specifically. There are several different exam boards in the UK, but the two biggest of these are AQA and OCR. Before you enrol your child on a specific GCSE course, you should visit the website of each exam board to ensure they provide the course you are looking for, and to read through the specifications for each examination and some of the sample assessment materials. This will allow you to ensure that the exam will work for your child: will the history GCSE focus on the area of history that they are most interested in, for example, or are the texts for the English literature GCSE books that they will enjoy reading.

Finally, don’t forget to assess the coursework versus examination ratio for the qualification your child is considering. Are they suited to completing regular coursework, or would they prefer to be assessed in a single mammoth examination? Coursework can take some of the pressure off the exam (ideal for children who don’t work well under pressure) but some homeschooling families don’t enjoy the pressure of completing and submitting all the paperwork required. This is something to consider carefully, taking into account the unique needs of your family.

Organising Revision

No matter how gifted the child is, it is impossible to pass a GCSE examination without some amount of revision. But how do you organise revision for homeschooled GCSE students? It is a good idea to separate the learning and revision period by ensuring that you have finished teaching the subject a few weeks before you plan to start the revision. This gives your child breathing space to relax and unwind before the pressure of revision begins. Your child should be encouraged to revise independently, where possible, as revision tends to be a singular, independent activity. Whilst your child should put together their own revision timetable, you can still have a positive input in the process by working with your child to practise exam technique, offering them ‘mock exams’ and practice papers, and reading through model answers. By offering this support, your child will know how to shape an effective answer and be able to independently identify what makes the answer successful.

GCSE Student revising for an exam

Getting Tuition

If you don’t have the time or the confidence to teach your child the course material they will need to know to pass their GCSEs then they can still be homeschooled whilst also getting tuition either from a tutor, at college, or via an online learning college. The main benefit of opting for this route is that your child will have the expert support that they need to achieve all that they are capable of. Each of these options will give them access to an experienced tutor who can guide them through their examinations. Of course, hiring additional support will bring with it additional expenditures that not all homeschooling families can afford. But the most budget-friendly way to get expert support and tuition, particularly if money is a concern, is to work with a distance learning provider with an excellent reputation for GCSE success.

Organising Exams

Young people in mainstream education don’t have to pay to sit their GCSE examinations, but young people who are homeschooled do need to pay to sit their GCSE exams. This is because, whilst all examinations must be paid for, schools will pay for the examinations of those who sit their exams through them. This cost is covered by the taxpayer. Paying for an examination your child wishes to take is considered to be part of the responsibility a family takes on when they decide to homeschool.

Generally, the cost of an exam has 2 parts: an exam board fee, and an administration charge. The exam board fee is a fixed charge and this is set by the exam board, meaning that everyone will pay the same amount. The administration charge that you pay though will vary, as this is set by the exam centre that you choose to take your exam with. This charge covers all the costs involved in taking an exam privately, and can vary wildly depending on the centre you choose. For this reason, you are advised to seek prices from several different centres to find the best value location in your area, with average prices ranging from between £50 and £150. This price applies separately to each exam taken, so it is worth researching home many exams each GCSE will comprise before you schedule in your exams, so that they aren’t a financial surprise.

Another financial decision you can make that you should be aware of is that your child is resitting their exams, you may wish to get their initial exam paper back so that you can work out what your child could change to improve their grades. Getting your initial exam paper back in this way typically costs around £10.

online gcse courses

Interested in a GCSE?

We offer GCSE in Mathematics, Business and Psychology through our online campus.

Learn more about our GCSE courses

Read another one of our posts