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- 1 Distance Learning Courses and Providers
- 1.1 Do I have to use a course or tutor?
- 1.2 What to consider when choosing a course or tutor
- 1.3 Types of distance learning courses
- 1.4 1. Entirely self-led courses (no tutor support)
- 1.5 2. Self-led courses with tutor support
- 1.6 3. Live taught online classes
Distance Learning Courses and Providers
Do I have to use a course or tutor?
No. Buying a distance learning course is not necessary in order to study for exams. Lots of home-ed students follow a DIY approach, using the course textbook and supplementing with online material (often free) and past exam papers (free, online) for practice and revision. For more advice on this approach see the Study Skills page.
However, distance learning courses do work well for some families. They can provide external accountability and take away some of the strain and responsibility from parental shoulders. Note that even if you have a self-motivated and self-directed learner, most courses will require some parental supervision and support. Distance learning courses are not a magic solution to home education; leaving a child to get on with a course on their own, without support, will not necessarily result in success.
What to consider when choosing a course or tutor
There are lots of tutor services/advisory consultants in education, but few have relevant elective home-education experience.If you are going to use such services then here are some things to consider:
• Do they come personally recommended to you by other home-educators?(You can ask on the HE exams and alternatives group for recent reviews)
• What experience do they have with home-educated students (not just after-school students)?
• SEN experience, qualifications and any professional bodies they are members of
• Their knowledge of the specific board/specification you need to enter the exam for. Mainstream/after-school tutors sometimes make mistaken assumptions based on their school experience, rather than for private candidates.
• If your chosen specification includes a non-examined assessment (often difficult for private candidates to arrange with an exam centre) do they have a recognised arrangement for this with an exam centre?
• DBS checks (NB. this can be relevant EVEN FOR ONLINE ONLY provision as well as in-person tuition) and insurance (for e.g. professional indemnity insurance);
• Will they offer a (paid) trial session or course sample before both sides commit?
Types of distance learning courses
There are 3 main options for distance learning courses (Some providers offer a range of these options at different price levels.)
- Entirely self-led (paper or online). These have no tutor support or marking. They are similar to a completely DIY approach, but provide the material in an orderly, ready-made structure, often with additional material, explanations or questions that might not be found in the textbook. They can be good for students who need a little bit more structure, but who like to do things at their own pace. These courses tend to be the cheapest option and are likely to need to most parental support.
- Self-led with tutor support or marking (paper or online). These courses offer a ready-made learning structure with the added bonus of receiving tutor feedback. The amount of tutor feedback will vary depending on the course: some courses will have ongoing interactive/email feedback, whilst others might only provide a set amount of marked assignments. The outside accountability, tutor feedback and (for some courses) regular deadlines can help students who need structure and help with marking. These can be a mid-budget option for parents who don't feel confident marking their child's work or helping their child mark their own work.
- Live taught online classes These are usually small group classes held on an online platform. Students log on and join the virtual class with a teacher on a regular (eg weekly) basis. Sometimes lessons are recorded, so that students can access them if they have missed a live session. Some live online class providers also provide additional material or assignments via their own online platform, googledocs, etc. These are generally - but not always - the more expensive course option. They can be useful for outsourcing subjects that parents might struggle with, eg foreign languages or computer science, and are almost always cheaper than paying for a one-to-one or face-to-face tutor. The regular lessons, homework and feedback can be good for students who need externally-imposed structure and deadlines
There is also the option of face-to-face teaching, or individual online tuition. For face-to-face teaching in groups or individual tuition, it's probably best to ask on your local HE groups to find out recommendations for your local area. For online individual tuition, you might find it useful to ask on national or exam group or on the HE Group Learning and Tutor Recommendations facebook group.
1. Entirely self-led courses (no tutor support)
Conquermaths (maths) yearly subscription for self-led maths video course. Secondary age content. KS4 content is focused on GCSE maths, but covers most of the topics needed for IGCSE. IGCSE content can be found in the year 12 / A Level section. Widely used by Home Educators. Useful as a supplement, but, like most self-led courses it is best used in conjunction with a student textbook. Discounted subscription available to Home Educators via the AWE Home Ed Club https://www.awediscounts.com/ Ask on the HE exams and alternatives group for further info.
Echo Education Ks3 and IGCSE courses. IGCSE subjects: Edexcel/Cambridge Biology, Chemistry and Physics, Edexcel Human Biology; Edexcel Double Award Science; Edexcel Geography; Cambridge History IGCSE. Echo Education also offer courses with tutor support for a larger fee. (See below) They usually have a sale on courses once a year if you keep an eye on their Facebook page.
IGCSE Science Courses Graham Bray provides a series of video tutorials for Biology, Physics and Chemistry for one set fee. He also provides a KS3 science course. There is currently a discounted subscription available to home educators via the PopArt group.
LearnersCloud subscription to educational videos sorted by curriculum. Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and English. Free trial available. Short videos to introduce each topic, so you could watch the video before working through your textbook chapter. Note that some content might be more relevant to GCSE content than IGCSE. £7.99 per month [Feb 2021 prices]
Mr Exham youtube channel (Free video resources, no tutor) Free comprehensive videos for Edexcel IGCSE biology and A level Biology. Additional (paid) resources are available from the Mr Exham website Focus is on Edexcel IGCSE Biology and A level biology.
2. Self-led courses with tutor support
Absolute Maths Distance Learning Distance Learning courses for KS3 Maths, IGCSE/GCSE Maths and GCSE Statistics. Recorded courses. There is also the option to purchase the course with live sessions for a larger fee.(See below). Sibling discounts available 1:1 tuition sessions are also an option.
Catherine Mooney Tutoring English Language and English Literature.
Echo Education KS3 and IGCSE courses. IGCSE subjects: Cambridge/Edexcel Biology, Chemistry and Physics; Edexcel,Human Biology; Edexcel Double Award Science; Edexcel Geography; Cambridge History IGCSE. Echo Education also offers courses without tutor support at a reduced rate (see above). They usually have a sale on courses once a year, if you keep an eye on their Facebook page.
efrenchtuitiononlineOnline French tuition from ks3 to A level. Live classes or distance learning/self-led courses.
HomeMadeEducation Recorded (or live) classes in IGCSE Economics, Business Studies, Travel and Tourism, Development Studies, Psychology, Geography, Environmental Management, English Language, English Literature and GCSE statistics. A levels also available in a live format (see below)
Learntec (computing) Recorded self-paced video courses available for KS2, KS£ and IGCSE Computer Science. Learntec also offer live classes for KS3 and IGCSE. They have a good reputation among home educators. Email tutor support is available for any queries about the course content.
Little ArthurOld-school provider. No online interaction. Ks3 and Ks4. One of the few providers for IGCSE agriculture (will need to attend centre for practical components). Self-led with tutor support, no online setup. Note their courses are usually for Cambridge IGCSE exams, so you will need an exam centre that can facilitate Cambridge exams.
NEC (National Extension College). Large range of subjects at GCSE-level and A level. Long established not for profit (run by a registered charity) provider. They have online courses for (I)GCSES, A-levels and a number of other qualifications. They have partner exam centres in some cities, and can arrange subjects with NEA (coursework) components through those.
Wolsey Hall Large range of subjects at KS3 and KS4, offered through an online portal with tutor support. Note that most of their courses are for Cambridge syllabuses, so do make sure that you have an exam centre that can facilitate Cambridge exams. A good range of A level courses are also available (do check about any practical or coursework requirements)
NSWLearning (Was Northstar Worldwide) A range of subjects at KS3 and KS4 level (including Religious Studies O level) and 2 A level subjects (maths and Religious Studies). Course is accessed through an online portal. From 2018 IGCSEs are purchases as complete courses and can be begun at almost any time of year. Note that most courses are for Cambridge syllabuses, so do make sure that you have an exam centre that can facilitate Cambridge exams.
Oxford Home Schooling KS3, IGCSE and A levels. Sliding scale costs. No connection to the university. Mixed reviews, but some positive reviews for A level courses.
Pembrokeshire College Online Courses in IGCSE and A level maths and sciences, including practical endorsements for A levels. Live classes also available.
South West Science SchoolOnline self-study courses with weekly question sheets and mock exams.
TeachAllAboutIT Online KS3 & iGCSE courses for Computing, Computer Science, & ICT. Courses are pre-recorded with downloadable resources, online assessments, and mock exams.
3. Live taught online classes
Absolute Maths Distance Learning Live courses for KS3 Maths, IGCSE/GCSE Maths and GCSE Statistics. There is also the option to purchase a reduced rate course with recorded sessions only (see above). Sibling discounts available. 1 to 1 private tuition also available.
AWE Home Education Club - Live online tutor led HE group courses. GCSE, IGCSE and KS3 in many subjects. AWE are able to offer GCSE/IGCSE with the coursework option so that students only sit one exam run face to face at AWE HE Club in Essex. Experienced Home Ed tutors with many years experience. Subjects available: Latin, English Language, English Literature, Maths, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Film Studies, Citizenship, Psychology, Sociology, History, Geography.
Candochem Live, structured, online classes for IGCSE Chemistry, for home ed students.Weekly (self marked homework), Half termly teacher marked tests and a weekly drop-in session included.
Dreaming Spires home learning Ancient History, Modern History (with Yvonne Mason), General Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, French, Spanish, Mathematics, Art History, Geography, and a Creative Writing course Also Dreaming Spires Revision online Cambridge IGCSE English Language crammer. Revision guide based on the course are available on Amazon.
efrenchtuitiononlineOnline French tuition from ks3 to A level. Live classes or distance learning/self-led courses.
HomeMadeEducation Live and recorded classes in IGCSE Economics, Business Studies, Travel and Tourism, Development Studies, Psychology, Geography, Environmental Management, English Language, English Literature and GCSE statistics in a variety of flexible formats. Online live A level courses also offered in English language and literature, Psychology, Business and Sociology.
Humanatees Range of humanities, science (Including Environmental Management) and history subjects at ks3 and IGCSE via online live classes. Popular with home educators. IGCSE courses tend to be longer than most, starting in summer, rather than September, and with fewer breaks.
Interhigh - Online School. Please beware that their safeguarding policy says that they will inform your LA when you register, when you leave, and if there are attendance issues, and in multiple other circumstances. While some home educators have found their classes satisfactory for their child, there are have also been a number of poor reviews.
Learntec home educator-run online Computer Science courses for A level, Cambridge IGCSE and KS3 Computer Science. Live classes with full support. (Individual tuition and coaching and self-led courses are also available). Learntec has had very good reviews on the HE Exam networks.
My Online Schooling similar to Net School in that they provide live, online group classes for various subjects. Covering KS2 through to GCSE/IGCSE and with options to study individual or a combination of subjects. Mixed reviews.
Netschool Study a single subject, or combination of subjects, from primary to A level, taught in small classes. Live lessons, which are also recorded. Offers a limited selection of A level subjects. Netschool generally get good reviews on home ed networks. Courses can book up very early for a September start.
Nexus EducateLive, fully interactive GCSE and IGCSE courses in English Language and Literature, Media Studies and Film Studies (these are coursework components which can be facilitated but please check how this works). Run by an experienced teacher and examiner who is also a home educator.
Online College of Art and Design (Art courses, including some 'BTEC equivalent' courses and an IGCSE course). Run by Cambridge home schooling. Mixed reviews (most complaints are about the admin, rather than the teaching or provision of resources). If you sign up for an art qualification course, do make sure you have an exam centre that can facilitate the exam and will sign off the necessary coursework. Check trial/cancellation small print.
Oxford Teaching Trust: Online teachers co-operative offering a holistic approach to learning as well as IGCSEs and A Levels. Subjects include: Chemistry, Physics, Biology, History, English Literature, English Language, French, German, Spanish and Maths. Extra curricular lessons include Philosophy, Symposiums, Yoga, Meditation, Creative Writing and History of Art. With live weekly interactive lessons, led by highly qualified and experienced teachers.
Pembrokeshire College Online Courses in IGCSE and A level maths and sciences, including practical endorsements for A levels. Live courses for IGCSE. Self-paced courses also available. Also offers Online Access to Higher Education Diploma courses.
Penny Chivers HE-friendly distance maths tutor. KS3 and online IGCSE classes.
TeachAllAboutIT Online KS3 & iGCSE courses for Computing, Computer Science, & ICT supported by live online classes weekly with a maximum class size of 10 with qualified tutors who are also home educators. Courses are supported by pre-recorded with downloadable resources, online assessments, and mock exams.
ThinkersMeetUp offer curriculum-based and interest-based live, online classes for students covering Classics, English Language and Literature, Maths, Science, Coding, Music and Art and Philosophy, Politics and Society for 7 - 18 year olds.
UK Virtual School Set up in June 2020. Classes available from Year 1 to GCSE. Offers IGCSE English Language, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and GCSE Maths (Edexcel for all) as 2 & 3 year programmes. Llive interactive small group (also recorded) and webinar (recorded) style classes available. Commitment from as little as a month.
Whole Brain Home Education IGCSE Maths, English, Biology, Chemistry and GCSE Sociology, Business Studies and Psychology. (Ask about a free trial week). One year courses. Partnered with Tutors and Exams exam centre. Students receive packs with all resources including text books, workbooks, and all materials.
Reviews and Advice from Home Educators
Reviews have been moved to Reviews of distance learning providers. Many are quite old and are in the process of being updated.
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