Exams & Qualifications

From our FAQs: 

What about exams?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no requirement to take exams at conventional times, or ever. Some home educated young people go directly into employment, self employment or apprenticeships, while others have been admitted to colleges and universities without formal qualifications, often following interviews and/or the production of evidence to support their applications, e.g. portfolios, third party testimonials and commendations.

Exams and qualifications can, of course, be pursued by home educated children, although parents need to make the arrangements independently. One of the great benefits of home education is being able to sit exams at the most appropriate age and stage for the individual child without being forced to take them before they are ready or having to wait for the relevant school year.

A Parliamentary Question by Liz Smith MSP asking about access to SQA exams and qualifications for home educated young people was answered by the cabinet secretary for education, John Swinney MSP, in July 2017. 

For more information, please refer to the Scottish Home Education Higher Education Group – Pathways to University and the Home Education Exams wiki where you will find a wealth of experience and support. There is also an Exams & Qualifications public forum on the HEF website.

Why not check out some of our Where Are They Now? stories for inspiration and reassurance?

Impact of Covid-19 2020

The 2020 Covi-19 pandemic meant that independent candidates, including many home educated young people, were denied access to exams and excluded from predicted grade assessments by teachers/tutors.

The following written evidence was submitted by the Centre for Social Mobility, University of Exeter, to Westminster’s Education Select Committee in July 2020. Although it focuses on England and Wales, it echoes some of the experiences of home educating families in Scotland.

The Voice of Experienced Elective Home Educating (EHE) parents: the risk of missing home-educated children in the education policy response to school closure and lessons for adapting home learning

For more on 2020 exams, see:

Ofqual guidance for ‘locked-down’ private candidates (April 2020)
Home educated candidates doubly disadvantaged by cancelled exams (August 2020)

More on 2021 exams:

Scottish National 5 exams to be cancelled in 2021 (BBC, 7 October 2020)
Our comment (Facebook) (8 October 2020)