Mea was initially rejected by 10 schools when she asked whether her daughter could sit exams as an external candidate.  She tried again with a further 20 schools, giving more information, and had a very positive response. Her experience, together with sample letter, is below.

This past 2 weeks I have received SIX positive replies to my letters offering to accept my daughter for her exams, with quotes ranging from £37.50 to £75 per exam, all so reasonable, helpful and local.

My daughter is taking some exams this June and some more next June.  The only places I had been advised of, after asking my local home-ed groups, were all approx £150 to £175 per exam and they were not local enough for me when you add on the price of petrol or trains.

I initially wrote 10 letters to local schools that I had heard had previously accepted private candidates or that I had seen on current and old lists.  I addressed the letters to the Exam Officer and I got 10 negative replies.

This time I addressed 20 letters to the Head (find the name on the website). I included a longer, personal letter about our reasons for Home Ed, what my daughter was studying, what she hoped to achieve, a timetable of the exams she wanted to take this year which included, subject, board, spec code, exam code, date, am/pm and duration of exam.  Also a table of the exams for next year which included, subject, board, spec code and how many papers.  I fully explained that all exams were only written and needed no coursework.  I gave the extortionate quotes as above and stated that these were too expensive and too far away and it would limit the amount of exams my daughter would be able to take if we had to pay these prices.  I appealed to their kindness in helping my daughter achieve her goals.  I said I appreciated that this would be a big commitment on their part and that I fully understood that their own students must come first.  I explained that my daughter would be well behaved and quiet.  I gave my address, email and phone number.  I also included the FAQ for exam officers and I think it made a big difference.

All in with the printing of the letters and FAQ and 20 1st class stamps it cost just under £20 and I have had a 25% success rate and will save hundreds of pounds in fees. I really can't believe the difference from the first 10 letters all "no"s, to the last 20 letters and such a great response.  I really can't stress enough that addressing the letters to the Head of School (by name) made a big difference, even though it was the exam officers who got in touch with me; 4 out of the 6 said that they had had a discussion with the Head and decided to allow my daughter to sit.  Also 3 out of the 6 said that the FAQ was very useful and the school we are now using this year said that she didn't realise how easy it was to register for CIE and that she will now have that in place for us for next year.   Even though I registered with the first school that offered, as I had no idea so many would respond positively,  I personally thanked all the other schools and they said they were happy we had found a place and that they would be happy to let her sit next year if we needed them.


Mea's letter to schools