One of the saddest things one ever encounters in the world of home education is watching that moment when a parent realises that the dogged pursuit of ideology has irrevocably screwed up a child’s life. Sometimes this moment is almost invisible. For example, seeing a mother on a blog who says, ‘We have decided not to do GCSEs’. Because it is of course parents who arrange and pay for the taking of such examinations, this may be translated as, ‘I have decided that my child will not be taking GCSEs’. Sometimes, this particular decision is not altogether catastrophic for a home educated child. It is still possible to find some Further Education colleges which will allow a child in without GCSEs, although this is becoming rarer every year. Even then, it will seldom be for A levels and so the parent’s decision has effectively restricted the kid’s life chances at the age of twelve or thirteen. Even if she takes A levels, many universities will raise their eyebrows if she applies without having any GCSEs as well.
What is even worse that the above scenario is the parents who steadfastly refuses, and teaches her child to refuse, to consider gaining any formal qualifications up to the age of seventeen and then still hopes to be able to swing a place at university. Often, these people have been lured on in their folly by the story of Ian Dowty’s son getting into Oxford without any GCSEs or A levels and are unaware of the background to this story. They breeze up to some university in the Russell Group when their daughter or son is seventeen and try to get the child in on the strength of a portfolio or life experiences. This is truly tragic, because they have not the slightest chance of succeeding in this endeavour. Here is a very well-known home educator having this ‘Eureka’ moment of discovery last week. She writes:
Has anyone had any success with Edinburgh University?
We've just had a disappointing response to my home educating daughter's enquiry about what they 'need' for entrance. The bod suggests that my daughter put her home educating experience in her 'personal statement' and I feel like suggesting where the bod should put a copy of her mechanical response to student enquiries.
It's the usual demand for A levels or an Access Course.
Yet when we went up for the Open Day the head of the department was quite positive about her chances.
P.S. She wants to study Japanese at University level and Edinburgh's MA is 'supposed' to be the 'best'.
I find this almost literally unbelievable. Approaching one of the best universities in the United Kingdom without any A levels and hoping for her child to be given a place on the say-so of the mother! I am particularly enchanted by the anger she expresses towards Edinburgh University, as though it is somehow their fault that she has not arranged for her daughter to take A levels! Here is a woman who took her daughter on a misguided and foolish educational journey, only to find that the result is likely to be complete failure for the child. Can anybody imagine anything sadder?