IGCSE/GCSE centres


Hi everyone. I sort of lost you all when we moved from the yahoo group, which seems a long time ago.:) I'm Joyce, I have a 15 year old, Hannah, who has never been to school. We've spent the summer looking for an exam centre in Scotland that would let Hannah take Highers as an external candidate (with no Standard Grades) next year, with no luck. We then spent a very unsatisfactory 8 weeks talking to the OU, who can't even arrange for her to be interviewed before Xmas, so we are now looking at IGCSE/GCSE options. I have had no luck at all in finding a centre in Scotland for these - got a very grumpy response at Fettes, who I thought might have done it. Today I made contact with the Ullswater Community College in Penrith, and I have to say that I've had more help from them in 1 day than I've had from about 25 centres in Scotland combined. Before I ask them to go ahead and send her registration off, I just wondered if anyone knew of any place in Scotland that would do it? It would be nice to minimise the additional costs of travel and accommodation if at all possible. Many thanks Joyce
The exam boards supposedly have a contact (I don't know it) for parents and in theory should be able to provide you with a list of centres for a particular subject. Easier than calling all the local and not-so-local educational establishments to ask because it changes every year.


Hi, yes, I've got the contact list, but the college who is going to let me do it in Cumbria isn't actually on it, so they don't appear very accurate or useful, sadly. (Hi Sheila!)


Afraid I don't have a list that I kept. I just hit google and worked through:
  • every FE college I could find south of the central belt - so a LOT.
  • SQA.
  • Every community High School that I could find.
  • Private schools. (Including Fettes who probably do have the facility but clearly had had a lot of requests and weren't that happy about it)

The answers varied from:
  • 'not before she is 16';
  • 'IGCSE is English (!!) so we don't do them here, she would need to do standard grades (but not before she is 16)';
  • 'You should speak to her attendance officer if she is excluded'. 'No one had ever asked that before, but we don't think we could do it without funding'.

As I said above, the only place who have been helpful are Ullswater Community College, who I found through a friend. I'm going to sign up with them - I'm really doing one last reality check before I do so to see if anyone else has found anything in Scotland who has said yes.

Edexcel and CIE for IGCSEs will both give you a list of centres, but they don't seem to be completely up to date.


[*]Private schools. (Including Fettes who probably do have the facility but clearly had had a lot of requests and weren't that happy about it)
Now that is interesting, as Fettes was one of the private schools cited as being willing to accommodate external candidates.

Admittedly this info dates from a few years back, which suggests it might have been one of the 'public interest' arguments used to help exclusive private schools retain charitable status before being quietly dropped.

Frustratingly, the rules seem to change all the time, and more often than not, when home educators find a route through the maze, it's likely to be blocked at the first opportunity. Anyone would think 'they' didn't want young people to gain qualifications.

I wish you good luck, Joyce.
I went to the APPG meeting at Westminster yesterday, and while there were all sorts of other things said that deserve a "here be Dragons" sign, there was general consensus that exam centres should be available for private candidates and that there should be a duty on some bit of government to provide at least a list of such centres (making it a duty means it's a legal requirement so resources have to be allocated to see that it's done rather than, as now, something that some LA officers do if they've got time). This was the bare minimum, regardless of who pays the fees (which is straying into dragon territory).


There is a duty on LAs to act intra vires as a bare minimum, but that still doesn't happen.

General consensus and serial consultations haven't made the slightest bit of difference, so what realistic prospect of success is there for warm words and sound bites from the usual self-serving suspects?

I'd rather have them thinking of helpful things to do than the wide range of unhelpful things they currently do, although I qualify this with what's below...

What is clear is that the spectrum of home educators covers a wide range, from those who have rejected the state completely, to those who'd much rather have their children at school but for whatever reason can't, and who still look to the state to provide them with all sorts of services. This latter group is getting larger, partly because of the raised profile of HE post-Badman and the often bizarre admissions and bullying policies at schools, and they're going to complain if things aren't happening, unlike the hands-off group who are happy with no action. Several of us at the meeting made the point that while it might be nice to have services, they should not be compulsory and that no negative inferences should be drawn from service refusal. I suspect that for the next three or four years this will work just fine because the incumbents seem minded to look on us favourably, but after the next election, all bets are off if we get the other lot back in power at Westminster. Worse, they'll have a bigger pool to fish from, given all the people who've signed up between now and then and didn't look for the hidden strings.
I have a 15yr old in glasgow. He took gcse maths as an external candidate at Merchiston in Edinburgh. The guy there is very helpful.
He has then got into the local college here to do higher human biology by going in and talking to them, he had no other qualifications.
There is a new company about to launch which will have Igcse's online, interactive stuff, using moodle and all sorst of stuff, but they will not be online till October.I will let people know when they launch.
Do get in touch if I can be of any help
Trying phoning all and any local comprehensive schools (or secondary/academies/colleges). I couldn't believe my locals would do them so I called every technical college and private school within a 200 mile radius until it suddenly ocurred to me to try an unlikely one. My son did them in June at a school 5 minutes away!!! What a relief!