My Experiences-Home educated, then sixth form, Cambridge and beyond

I'm new here but thought I'd share my experiences in the HE forum as so many people criticised my family and I when I left school to become home educated at the age of 12-sitting exams as a private candidate was out of the question due to cost so we openly told people I would reach the age of 16 with no qualifications. It was always my intention to get my qualifications (GCSEs and A Levels) as my ultimate goal was to reach university yet people told us it wouldn't happen, if I didn't sit SATs or GCSEs no college would accept me. I'm happy I proved those people wrong and I believe my home education shaped me as a person and gave me more useful study and social skills than I would have had if I had continued at school.

I was bullied at school so the arguments that I wouldn't gain confidence if I was home educated and I would lack social skills was laughable to me-many people seem to think that going to school and being surrounded by other children equals great socialising experiences and social development yet when at school I retreated into my shell due to the bullying. I was bullied for most minor things-I enjoyed reading and playing the violin so was an easy target. When children are faced with that situation they nearly always go one of two ways-go off the rails in order to become more popular or retreat further and further into themselves to the point that their confidence in social situations becomes almost non existent. I was able to socialise while being educated at home through music lessons, Sunday school and even trips to the supermarket-I was learning adult skills while still being able to socialise with people of my own age.

I joined a sixth form college at the age of 16 to sit my GCSEs and then progressed to A Levels (in English Literature, Maths, Economics, General Studies and an AS in Religious Studies). Due to college policy I was only able to sit 3 GCSEs and a BTEC as the programme was designed for students resitting GCSEs that they had failed at school. I begged my teachers to let me sit higher tier exams as I knew I already had the knowledge, they were reluctant but I persevered (note to anyone reading this currently going through similar-always persevere, we have to be the change we want to see in the world and without people showing sceptics that home education works they'll never know!). I ended up passing my A Levels and received all 5 university offers via UCAS. I was planning on studying English literature (coupled with the academic study of education at 2 of my choices) and I made the choice to go to Cambridge University. Unfortunately, I fell ill just before going and my ill health continued so I only managed 6 weeks of study at Cambridge and had to leave-they were holding my place open for the following year but I decided on a change of direction as I was missing my maths from A Levels so I am now hoping to go to Sheffield University to study for an MMath degree in September. I then hope to go into academic research, where I would be interested in researching home education and alternative learning styles.

I have written a blog about my experiences, I'm not sure if this is the correct place to link it