Scottish Exam Options
The Scottish Government have said that National 5 exams are in theory open to private candidates, but it is up to headteachers whether they wish to administer that in their own schools, and they are under no obligation to do so. Until recently all Nat5s contained internal coursework which has be to completed in a formal setting, making it problematic for private candidates, and therefore a flexi-schooling arrangement would be required. Some National 5s have now had the coursework units scrapped, so *may* now be more accessible to private candidates, but still requires a local high school prepared to accept private candidates. In reality the number of home education families in Scotland who have successfully navigated Nat5s are a very small number indeed, and definitely in the minority. The advice would be that it is generally not possible to consider National5 exams as a private candidate. Highers also contain coursework and so are generally not accessible.
As such, many Scottish families opt to put their children in to school in order to achieve exams. For those who don't, the most common option is to take IGCSEs (International GCSEs) which are 100% written exams, and there is still a very small number of GCSEs without any coursework which can also be accessed.
Some families in Scotland have successfully taken American SATs for UK university entry, enabling them to home-educate up to university entrance.
Differences Between Scottish and non-Scottish Exam Routes
GCSE/IGCSE is loosely equivalent to National5, however are generally sat in Year 11 at school, which is the equivalent of S5, not S4 when Nationals are usually sat. After GCSE level, students typically move on to A Level study which is generally spread over 2 years, unlike Scottish Highers which only take 1 year. A Level is a much higher standard than Scottish Highers, and probably more similar to Advanced Highers, usually sat in S6. This means that students sitting A levels will generally complete an extra year of education compared with their Scottish counterparts (see below) Obviously home educated families are not constricted by these timelines, but this may prove helpful in planning your own timeline.
Scottish S4 / National5 = England/Wales Yr 10 / no exams
Scottish S5 / Highers = England/Wales Yr 11 / GCSEs
Scottish S6 / Advanced Highers = England/Wales Yr 12 / A Level yr1
(none) = England/Wales Yr 13 / A Level yr2
Some families have had success with local colleges and have been able to access National5s/Highers that way. Some colleges have recently started offering Distance Learning Nat5 English and Maths. Please contact your local colleges for clarification.
Scottish Exam Centres Taking Private Candidates
***PLEASE ENSURE YOUR EXAM CENTRE CAN ACCOMMODATE AN EXAM BEFORE STARTING ON A SYLLABUS***
Wallace College offer all boards at £110 per GCSE/IGCSE subject and language oral exams an extra £90 . Some GCSE Controlled Assessments / speaking tests, and CIE A-level Science Practicals. Does summer and winter sittings. Offers SQA Nat5 exams (if controlled assessments have already been passed)
Basil Patterson College offer Edexcel & AQA GCSE/IGCSE.
Fettes College can accommodate some exam takers.
Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh take External Candidates. Their Examinations Officer, Dr T Lawson is exceptionally helpful.
It's also worth contacting the exam officer at St Leonards in St Andrews.
All these schools offer GCSEs, which may now be difficult to take as an independent candidate in some subjects. Fettes also offers some IGCSEs.
The Aberdeen Green School Drumoak - Beginning August 22 2017. Can join for instruction or exams in 2018 for: Maths Higher, English Higher, Physics Higher, Chemistry Higher, History Higher. Arts Award, equivalent to an A Level is also available. www.theaberdeengreenschool.org
Albyn School. Only offers summer series each year. Cannot accommodates practical exams but offers speaking tests in French, German, Spanish and Chinese Mandarin. Boards offered are Edexcel, CIE, OCR, AQA, SQA and WJEC / Eduqas.
Glenalmond College - Can accommodate any exam board, but only offer subjects which are 100% written exams. Summer series only. Candidate fee of £110 plus cost of exam paper. Rural setting with no public transport links.