Advice meetup, Bestwood, Thursday 19 October

A few “veteran” home ed parents, some with grown-up children, are kindly offering to chat at this informal library meetup with other parents who’d like their advice.  This is for parents newly home educating or seriously considering it, or people who’ve been home edding for a while & would like to confer with someone more experienced.  (Not for people with a purely professional interest.)

Date: Thursday 19 October 2017.

Time: 1pm to 3.30pm.

Age range:  All ages welcome.  While the parents are chatting, children & young people can browse in the library, play on the park, try the nearby skate park etc. Southglade Leisure centre is on the same site, inc swimming pool with flume.

Venue: Southglade Park Library, Bestwood, Nottingham, NG5 5GU.

Area: The library is on Southglade Park, on the number 16 brown line bus route (also not far from 15, 17, 79, 89, threes, 141 – see travel info below). It’s about 3½ miles north of the city centre, just east of the Hucknall Road.

Price: Free.

Booking: No need to book.

Southglade Park Library page on City website
Southglade Park Library page at Culture24
Southglade Park Library page at Leisure for Kids
Southglade Leisure Centre (inc swimming pool with flume)

The words "Advice meetup" appear in elegant cursive writing against a background photo of a map and compass. The map is of Nottingham.

Advice Meet-up

Due to the high number of new home educators and others asking for information or support, four of the admin team [of the Nottingham/Notts home ed Facebook group] are going to be available to try to answer questions and offer advice where needed.

We will be at Southglade Park Library. There will be access to the public library, there is a play park and skate park in the same area. We look forward to meeting you. The Admin Team. 🙂

Map showing Southglade Park Library:

Bigger map showing Southglade Park Library

Nearest bus stop: “Padstow Road“, on the 16 route, Brown Line. It’s near the gate to the park, and the library is about 200 yards away.

“Gala Way” bus stop is on the Hucknall Road, about 500 yards away to the west. Trent Barton “threes” & 141 stop there.

“Eastglade Road” bus stop is the nearest on the Beckhampton Road, about 850 yards away to the east. Buses which call there: Brown Line 15, Turquoise Line 79, Purple Line 89.

“Gorse Court” bus stop is about 900 yards away, on the Hucknall Road, and the number 17, Brown Line, stops there, before turning off to the west.

Trams:  Bulwell tram stop is about a mile to the west.  You’d need to be on a Hucknall tram.  Tram information.

Parking: Car parking is available at the Southglade Park site.

Access: Access info not available yet, but from photos it looks as though the whole building is on one floor. Will update if we find out more.

Teens-ish meetup with tour of NGY myplace, city centre, Wednesday 18 October

Tour of a fab resource in Nottingham City Centre that’s available to all young people 11-18 (& for some things, older). Plus discussion of possible future groups and meetups.

Date: Wednesday 18 October 2017.

Time: Tour at 3pm. Arrive around 2.45pm to allow time for getting membership cards and/or visitor access cards. If you’re there early, or first, there’s no need to wait for others before talking to the friendly reception person and sorting out your card.

Venue: NGY myplace, 29-31 Castle Gate, Nottingham NG1 7AR.

Area: Nottingham city centre, just off Maid Marian Way.

Age range: 11 is the minimum age for being a member of NGY. Parents are welcome to tag along for the tour, but needn’t unless you specially want to.

Probably best not to have younger siblings along on this occasion; Nottingham Central Library is about 500 yards away, and is open till 7pm on weekdays. If the weather’s warm(ish), another option is to bring a towel and go paddling in the nearby market square fountains.

Price: Free. (It’s £1 per person per hour for the dance studio, and 50p to use the gym – but free to look round, and free to use the social spaces when they’re open to your age group.)

Booking: If you know in advance that you’re planning to come for the tour, it would help to get a sense of numbers if you email teensish @ non-school-nottingham dot org dot uk.

Membership: Young people age 11-18 may like to join NGY, to be able to use the facilities in future. To save time on the day, you can download a membership form here and print it to fill in in advance. Or just pick up a form from reception on the day. It’s free to join – unless you lose your card, in which case you’d have to pay £1 for a replacement.

NGY myplace Facebook page.

Green and blue logo for NGY myplace, plus photos showing a gym with treadmills, a table-tennis bat and ball, and a lounge area with comfy chairs. The logo includes the address and phone number: 29-31 Castle Gate, Nottingham NG1 7AR, (0115) 704 3114.

Tour of a fab resource in Nottingham City Centre that’s available to all young people 11-18.

On this occasion, a load of home ed young people are going to look round together. But please note that 11-18-year-olds can actually drop into NGY myplace any time it’s open anyway, and if someone’s free to take you round, they’ll give you a tour then. So this isn’t the only opportunity to find out about it.

After we’ve looked round the building, we’ll spend a bit of time together, talking about groups or activities that young home ed people would like to have happen, and the practicalities of starting up a new event. The recently started Nottingham home edders’ dance meetup and Minecraft meetup both came partly from young people suggesting them, and it seems likely that other young home edders have other great ideas!

At 3.30, the social space opens to 11-16-year-olds (it’s 16+ in the early afternoon), so you’d have the option of staying on for a game of pool or table-tennis, or just to hang out with friends.

If you can’t make this meetup, but you have an idea for somewhere that home ed teens might like to go, or a meetup themed around some activity, you can still get in touch and share your idea. Feel free to email “info at non-school-nottingham dot org dot uk” with suggestions, or for a chat if you’re thinking about organising something & not sure how best to do it. (Note: a few emails have gone missing recently, so please don’t assume your email arrived if you haven’t had a reply.)

Map showing NGY myplace:

Bigger map showing NGY myplace

Transport: It’s just off Maid Marian Way and about 320 yards’ walk from the Old Market Square, hence not far from any of the city centre bus stops. Nearest tram stop is Old Market Square.

Parking: One simple method for parking is to use one of the Park and Ride sites and get the tram into town. Feel free to comment if you have other tips for city centre parking.

Access: The NGY building has a wheelchair-friendly toilet, and a lift and ramps. If you have any other access needs, email teensish @ non-school-nottingham dot org dot uk, and/or contact the staff at NGY, and we’ll do our best.

Not Back To School Picnic, September, Nottingham area

One afternoon in September, there will be a Not Back To School Picnic. This is an informal community meetup for play and chat. Newcomers are very welcome.

"Not Back To School Picnic". The words appear against a background of green grass. "Not" is at an angle, as if added after "Back To School". Picnic is in sky blue. The dots of the letter i are in yellow like the sun.

If you’re a new home edder or potential future home edder, and you want to find out when & where it is, you could:

More about the picnic

People taking part will bring their own food to a park. The children will play while the adults chat. (Or sometimes the children chat and the adults play!)

If you’re new, we’ll try to introduce you to people with similar age children or similar interests, or people from your geographical area.

Teens-ish meetups, Nottingham, Monday 3 & Thursday 20 July

Update Thursday 20 July: Yes we are still meeting! Weather forecast predicts that rain will stop around 1pm and sun might appear later.

Dates: Monday 3 July & Thursday 20 July 2017 – choose one or both of the two dates.

May be postponed if weather forecast is for lots of rain that afternoon.

Time: 1pm to 3pm, and probably some will stay on longer, depending on weather & what everyone’s doing 🙂

Venue: a Nottingham park. We’re not announcing the meetup point in public, so please get onto one of the lists or groups where local home ed families plan things, or email (see below).

Price: Free.

Age range: Primarily 12 to 17, not minding if a few 11-year-olds or 18+ wanted to join in too.

If some families bring younger siblings along too, that’s fine – it’s just that the focus will be on the older ones, and the younger ones will be expected to not get too much in the way of that.

Parents at the “considering and finding out about home ed” stage are welcome to visit with or without their children, and take the opportunity to chat to the other parents.

Booking: No need to book. However, there will probably be some discussion on email & Facebook of who’s planning to come.

Bright yellow text says "Teens-ish" meetup. The background is green grass.

For young people who’d specially like to meet others of similar age!

The first one of these, in June 2017, attracted a dozen local home edders in the teens-ish age range, as well as a few younger siblings.

At the end, lots of people said they’d like to meet up for a similar thing again. Plus, we knew already that some interested families hadn’t been able to make that first date. So these two dates are the follow-up.

New families are very welcome. There will probably be a mix of people who came to the first one and people who didn’t. We’ll try to be extra friendly if you don’t know anyone!

The format at the first meetup seemed to work OK for everyone, including a few autistic/Aspergers young people who happened to be part of the group. So we’ll probably do roughly the same sequence next time, although it could vary if people have other ideas.

We did an introduction circle where people could say their name and something they’re into, such as dance, gaming, music, gymnastics, books or art. At this first meetup, lots of people had never met before, so at first, the overall flavour was a bit quiet and cautious.

After a while, we got playing a parachute game where we called out things like “anyone wearing black” or “anyone who likes Harry Potter” or “anyone who owns more than 3 computer games”, and everyone who fit the category would run underneath the parachute and swap places. This got more raucous and friendly.

Then a load of the teens-ish people (anyone who wanted to) went off for a walk together while the parents stayed back at base and had a chat.

Some of us ended up not leaving till about 5pm, though some had to go earlier.

Things you might want to bring: sun cream, sun hats, umbrellas, snacks, water, picnic blankets, and a way to write down other people’s contact details.

If you want more other meetup opportunities, bear in mind that some teens have been coming to the Thursday Free Play meetups.

Access: If you or your child has limited mobility/energy, social/sensory limitations or anything else that would affect your access to the event, feel free to give us a heads-up so we can take your needs into account when planning. Either mention it on the lists/groups where the event’s being discussed, or email privately on teensishmeetup at non-school-nottingham dot org dot uk.

Forest School at Broxtowe Country Park, Wednesday mornings, free

Update July 2017: This group has finished for the time being, as the ranger has moved to a different park. You can check the Facebook page to see if it’s re-starting in another location.


Date: Wednesday mornings in term time.

Time: 10am to 12 noon.

Venue: Meet by the gate of Phoenix Park Adventure Playground, 52a, Westleigh Road, Nottingham, NG8 6JY.

Venue update: “the meeting location has now changed. It is now at the new park entrance, by the BMX track. Postcode: NG8 6GT“. I.e. the entrance at the end of Alwyn Road, where it meets Woodfield Road & Lindfield Road.

Area: Edge of Broxtowe Country Park, Broxtowe.

Age range: “Any age, but need to be able to concentrate and follow guidance, as we may have fire, tools etc.”

Price: Free, as it’s run by a Park Ranger.

Organiser: alastair dot glenn at nottinghamcity dot gov dot uk.

Facebook page for Forest School at Broxtowe Country Park

Booking: No need to book, just turn up. The Facebook page is visible to anyone, whether or not they’ve got a Facebook account, so you may want to have a look first to see if there’s anything special happening that week, or check for last-minute cancellations.

A path ahead is blocked by a bright green metalwork double gate made of plant-like shapes. Above the gate is a decorative metal sign reading "Phoenix Adventure Playground". To the right is an opening where a person could walk through but bike handlebars would be stopped by the metal frame. The edges of two houses show, one each side of the path. Trees are silhouetted in the distance. A less decorative sign in the background labels it as "Broxtowe Country Park and Phoenix Adventure Play Area", and shows some icons, but the icons are too far away to decode properly by this photo.

From Alastair, the Park Ranger:

Term time, Wednesdays 10am-12pm.

Run by Broxtowe Park Ranger Alastair Glenn. I have much more experience running activities for older children (10yrs+) but anybody is welcome and hopefully we can learn and have fun together!

From a home ed parent:

It’s our favourite activity during the week! Very nice to be in a wild park, in a different age group of home ed kids, and do some nature crafts and educational projects, games and free play. Welcome!

From another home ed parent:

We really love it. The kids have really got into it. We don’t make it every week, but they miss it if we don’t.

Alistair is great with my very shy kids. He has encouraged them and engaged with them. When we go, they talk about it for the rest of the day.

Physical access:

Mostly off the path, may be rough/wet ground. No toilets on site (plenty of trees).

Map showing the entrance to the park that’s the (updated) meetup point:

Full page larger map of the same thing.

Nearest bus stops (updated to reflect new meeting point): “Denton Green”, on the 78 route, Turquoise Line, or “Coleby Road Top” which is on either the 78 route or the 35 bus, Orange Line. These are about 300 yards from the park entrance meetup point, near the roundabout at the other end of Alwyn Road.

(Note that some families will already know that roundabout as the home of Nottingham City Gymnastics Club.)

Next nearest: The 77 bus, Turquoise Line, stops at “Flamsteed Road”, about 800 yards west of the meetup point.

Parking: There’s on-street parking on nearby roads.

Teens-ish meetup, Nottingham, Wednesday 7 June

Date: Wednesday 7 June 2017, afternoon. May be postponed if weather forecast is for lots of rain that afternoon.

Time: 1pm to 3pm, and probably some will stay on longer, depending on weather & what everyone’s doing 🙂

Venue: a Nottingham park. We’re not announcing the meetup point in public, so please get onto one of the lists or groups where local home ed families plan things, or email (see below).

Age range: Primarily 12 to 17, not minding if a few 11-year-olds or 18+ wanted to join in too.

If some families bring younger ones along too, that’s fine – it’s just that the focus will be on the older ones, and the younger ones will be expected to not get too much in the way of that.

Price: Free.

Booking: No need to book. However, there will probably be some discussion on email & Facebook of who’s planning to come.

Bright yellow text says "Teens-ish" meetup. The background is green grass.

There are definitely some in that age group who’d specially like to meet other people of similar age, so it makes sense to invite them all into the same place!

Near the beginning, we’ll have an introduction circle where people can say their name, and optionally a bit about what they’re into. For those doing courses at Nottingham College in the autumn, we’ll make an opportunity for people to find out who else is going to be in their class.

We encourage everyone to bring things like crafts or frisbees or a football, and invite other people to join in, so that no-one feels left out, and it’s easy to get chatting without being put on the spot in an awkward way.

Other things you might want to bring: sun cream, sun hats, umbrellas, snacks, water, picnic blankets, and a way to write down other people’s contact details.

This was the winning date in a survey which 22 families answered. As it’s looking so popular, and as not everyone could do that date, maybe we’ll do another one in future. If you can’t make it this time, or want to get together before this one’s happened, bear in mind that some teens have been coming to the Thursday Free Play meetups.

Based on the survey, we expect around 20 non-schoolers in the 11-18ish age range at this meetup, depending on which families turn up in the end.

Access: If you or your child has limited mobility/energy, social/sensory limitations or anything else that would affect your access to the event, feel free to give us a heads-up so we can take your needs into account when planning. Either mention it on the lists/groups where the event’s being discussed, or email privately on teensishmeetup at non-school-nottingham dot org dot uk.

Free Play park meetup, all ages, various Nottingham parks, Thursdays

Date: Thursdays throughout the year.

Time: Late morning through afternoon – typically starting about 12ish, and finishing whenever the last few people decide it’s time to go. If it doesn’t rain, some people are usually at the park till at least 3pm.

Venue: Various green parks around the Nottingham area, especially the ones with good playgrounds, good public transport and toilets.

Age range: All ages welcome. There are plenty of “regulars” in the 1 to 7 age range and several around 8 to 12. Presence of teens is a bit more random – maybe ask first who’s coming, or look out for one of the “teens-ish meetups” instead.

Price: Free. (Exception: if it’s the cold part of winter, then we might decide to meet indoors a few times, and people would chip in a quid or two to pay for the space.)

Organisation: To get announcements of the week’s meeting point without being on Facebook, join the EMHE email list. Or if you prefer Facebook, join the Home Ed Free Play Facebook group. There isn’t one organiser responsible for these meetups – it’s more of an evolving tradition, with suggestions of “how about ____ next week?”

Booking: No need to book. However, if it’s at a park big enough to have different areas, and you don’t have a phone number for someone else there that day, it’s worth turning up within an hour or so of the start. That way, it doesn’t matter if people move on from the original meeting point after a while.

What to bring: Water bottles and snacks, plus sun hats, sun cream and/or umbrella! People often bring picnic food, and a blanket to sit on. Parents may want an extra jumper, in case it turns out the children don’t want to stop playing as the day cools down.

Access: Wheelchair access and toilet situation depends on the park. The Forest and Wollaton Park each have a “Changing Places” toilet. If you have a favourite park which you know works well for your family, feel free to suggest it.

What to expect if you’re new, and tips:

  • There might be a dozen families that week… or there might be more, or fewer.
  • Where you see parents sitting around or standing around, come and say hello. We’re a friendly bunch. If in doubt whether it’s us, just ask “Home ed free play?”
  • Some children run off straight away to play. Some take a while to settle in, and join in more as the time goes on. Some children stay close to their parents, e.g. if it’s their first time at this group, or they were tired that day, or if they’re just enjoying the conversation with the nearby adults. It’s fine for each child to socialise as much or as little as they want to.
  • If your child wants to join in with something but feels shy getting started, you’re welcome to ask around, to find a child who’s happy to include them and introduce them to others.
  • If you’re bringing a teenager who specially wants to meet other people their age, it’s worth checking beforehand whether it’s a week when other teens are planning to go. Other than that, don’t worry too much about whether there’ll be other children the same age and same gender. Compared to school, home ed socialising typically has a lot more mixing across ages.

Against a background of woodland, the words "Home Ed Free Play / All ages park meetups / Nottingham area".

GCSEs etc for home ed teens: info event, Nottingham city centre, Wednesday 26 April

Note that New College Nottingham (NCN) and Central College are in the process of merging as Nottingham College – so although the venue this time is NCN, the courses being discussed here include the ones pioneered by Central College in recent years.

Date: Wednesday 26 April 2017.

Time: 6pm to 7pm. Recommendation: allow extra time at the end for possible chatting.

Venue: NCN City Campus, The Adams Building, Stoney Street, Nottingham NG1 1NG. Main entrance is up a flight of steps from Stoney Street; there’s also a back entrance from St Mary’s Gate. Either way, go to reception, and someone from the team will be around to direct you.

Area: East side of Nottingham City Centre, in between Lace Market Square and Stoney Street.

Price: This info event is free, and the courses are also free (government-funded).

Booking: Please book in advance for this info event if possible. You can email centralchoices@centralnottingham.ac.uk, or call 0115 884 2278. This is also a good way to express initial interest in the courses. However, extra people turning up on the night wouldn’t be turned away.

Age range: The various courses are for young people age 13 up. The info event is open to all. (Some parents will probably bring their children to hear the info first-hand.)

These courses are all ones which young people can do while keeping their status as “home ed”. In that way, it’s different from registering at a school.

Courses for 2017-2018 will include:

Year 9 is the academic year where you start age 13 & finish age 14.
Year 11 is the one you start age 15 & finish age 16.

If you already know what you want to do, you can download an application form (PDF) online already.

(For more description of all the options, look out for another post which we hope to do soon. Here’s the explanation from last year to be going on with; that’ll be useful to explain the jargon terms and overall framework, even though some of the details are out of date.)

Photo of Adams Building, New College Nottingham. It's a large brick building which used to be a lace mill. In front of it is a courtyard. The view is across the courtyard, showing a little bit of nearby buildings as well.

Map showing the Adams Building:

Bigger version of map showing the Adams Building

Page about NCN City Campus.

Nearest tram stop: “Lace Market”, about 100 yards away. All trams running through the city centre stop here. Tram information.

Nearest bus stops: “Fletcher Gate” and “Broad Street” are probably the nearest, each at around 200 yards away; the Victoria Centre is about 500 yards away.

Parking: Lace Market car park is run by the City Council. Stoney Street car park is run by NCP. They’re both pretty close, within 200 yards; Stoney Street is maybe a little bit closer, but also more expensive.

Access: Flat access to reception is available from the St Mary’s Gate / Lace Market Square side of the building. At time of writing, the room for the event had not yet been finalised, so please check with the organisers that the room they’re booking would also meet your access needs.

GCSE & other courses for non-school teens at Central College, Nottingham

Update late 2017: please note that this writeup is about the 2016-2017 academic year, so OUTDATED by now – not least because Central College has since merged with New College Nottingham to form Nottingham College, and the GCSE courses are now at Stoney Street in the city centre, not in Beeston. However, the overall structure is likely to be similar, so if you’re looking into exams & courses for non-school teens, it might still be useful in helping you get your bearings.


This write-up is about free (government-funded) courses available to “electively home educated” teens at Central College, Nottingham. It’s based on an info event which was held at the college on Thursday 5 May 2016, plus some follow-up conversations.

Thanks to Jo Edgerton, Choices Team Leader at Central College, who was immensely helpful in explaining the practicalities of all this and decoding the jargon!

Overview by school “Year”

Central welcomes home ed teens from Year 9: that is, age 13+.

This translates as: To start in autumn 2016, you’d have to have been born before 1 September 2003.

And if you want to start one of the GCSE courses in autumn 2016, you’d normally1 have to have been born before 1 September 2002.

(Likewise, the people starting in autumn 2017 would’ve been born before 1 September 2004, or 2003 for the GCSEs.)

Here’s a summary of what’s available for 2016-2017:

Age group Age at start Age at end Current options at Central For autumn 2016 start, birth date before
Year 9 13 14 Pre-GCSE Programme

In exceptional cases, GCSEs1

1 Sept 2003
Year 10 14 15
  • Pre-GCSE

  • GCSEs

  • Art & Design

  • Possibly an ICT course, only if enough people interested

  • For those with learning difficulties/ disabilities, “Horizons”.

1 Sept 2002
Year 11 15 16
  • Everything that the Year 10s can do.

  • Various other vocational courses, along with non-home-ed students from older years. These are known as “infill placements”.

1 Sept 2001

Each of these courses is one year long – or, really, about 9 months, from September to June. How many days a week varies depending on the course(s).

Once you reach “Year 12“, there’s a huge amount available, and nothing to stop you continuing on at the college then, or indeed at another college! But this explanation will focus on ages 13 to 16, as that’s when these options will be especially useful to home ed families.

Geography & travel

Central College has multiple sites across Nottingham.

View college sites on OpenStreetMap. (If you’re on a computer with a mouse and can do “hovering”, hovering over each pin shows which subjects take place there. Or see static screenshot version further down this page.)

The home ed GCSE and pre-GCSE courses are all at the Beeston centre, which has a tram stop and orange/Indigo bus stop outside its front door. (Shown slightly brighter pink on OpenStreetMap page.)

Vocational courses may be at Clifton, Highfields, Beeston, or in the city centre, depending on the subject – list of subjects and locations are summarised below.

Central’s page with info on public transport to each of the sites.

Where we fit in to the college

Most of the college’s 4,500 students are between 16 and 19. A small proportion, only about 230 students in total, is younger than 16. Older adults are also welcome.

Within the college, the “Choices” team runs both the home ed courses and some other ones. (A school might pay for a young person to come to the college instead of to school.)

As the college overall is “a post-16 environment”, the Choices team people have thought a lot about what adjustments to make for supporting and including under-16s. For example, if a young person doesn’t arrive at their class, the parent gets a phone call. There’s a pre-course questionnaire to help identify special educational needs and any particular social needs.

There’s a large team of pastoral support people (for all students, not only the younger ones). A key person for this side of things is Vicki Stockdale, Behaviour and Safeguarding Manager.

The home ed courses are now going into their third year. In the academic year that’s recently completed, 50-odd home ed children age 13 to 16 were studying there.

Home ed teens can take part either in the courses specifically set up for them, or, for Year 11, in selected other courses around the college.

In principle, you can mix and match the different bits available to your age group, although not every combination will work. The timetables are organised centrally by the college, not by the “Choices” team.

You can take part in any of these courses and still retain your status as electively home educated – as you’re not registered with a school.

Levels

You’ll hear talk of “Levels”, so here’s a handy guide.

Level Roughly equivalent to…
Level 3 ‘A’ level, though more practical, not as academic.
Level 2 A* to C old-style GCSEs, 9 to 5-or-4 (approx) new-style GCSEs.*
Level 1 D to G old-style GCSEs, 3-or-4 to 1 new-style GCSEs.
Entry Level 3  
Entry Level 2  
Entry Level 1  

* Apparently the “old” GCSE ratings are being abolished soon, and there’s going to be a new scale of 1 to 9, where 9 is best. There are more divisions in grades in the new system, and new-style 9 is intended to be even better than old A star.

To start a course at Central, except for the Horizons ones, you’d need to be at least at Entry Level 3 or above, in both Maths and English, as shown by the initial assessment. Or more, depending on which course you wanted to do.

Year 9s who aren’t yet at that level would be advised to come back a year later.

Year 10s or Year 11s who aren’t yet at that level could access the Horizons “LLDD provision”, where LLDD stands for “Learners with Learning Difficulties & Disabilities”.

Assessments, discussions, decisions

When you start, the decision of which course(s) to start on would be made by the young person, the parents/carers and the college, together.

The process goes like this:

  1. You put in an application form.

    Choices programme page, inc link to application form.

  2. The Admissions team put your details into their system and send you a letter. This letter is an invitation something like “Come and do your assessment at this time and date and place”.

  3. Everyone does two online assessments at a computer at the college, one for English and one for Maths.

    There’s no time limit; you work at your own pace. You can choose whether to do English or Maths first. Most people complete both within one to two hours.

    The type of assessment is referred to as “Functional Skills”. The questions are meant to be similar to something you might encounter in real life: for example, how much it would cost to buy your tickets for a day out, or whether a sentence makes sense. Usually it’s easy questions to start with, then getting harder as you go through it.

    For the maths, you might use the calculator that’s on the computer. You don’t need to bring anything.

    (College policy is that everyone takes the English and Maths assessments when starting a new course, whether or not they’ve got existing qualifications – even if they’ve already been at the college a previous year.)

    You get your results on the day, and a chance to discuss your next steps with a member of staff from the Choices team.

  4. Within a couple of weeks, you get another letter. In most cases, this will be to invite you for an interview.

    (For Year 9s who aren’t yet at Entry Level 3, it would only be to say “Please come back next year”.)

  5. At the interview, the young person, the parent(s) and the college staff discuss which course(s) will suit them best, taking into account…

    • Level of your English and Maths skills.

    • Age, because of age limits for some of the courses.

    • Social maturity – if a course would involve being put in a group with people older than you.

    • General readiness for the new learning environment, e.g. study skills / habits / experience.

      For example, some people could jump straight into GCSEs in terms of their age and academic level, but prefer to spend a year doing pre-GCSE to get settled into the college routine.

    • Where you’d like to be headed in future. For example, if you want to continue to ‘A’ levels in future, you’re likely to need five GCSEs at grade C or above, including your future-‘A’-level subjects.

    • Funding rules from the Government.

      A key factor is that the Government’s very keen for everyone to get English and Maths qualifications. The funding rule in that area is: If you do more than 150 hours at the college over the year, your programme of study at the college has to include English and Maths, unless you already have the GCSE certificate at C or above.

      In practice, that means you can do one GCSE at a time without going over the 150 hours. Two GCSEs, or one and something else, and the rule kicks in.

    • Timetabling – as some combinations could clash.

    • Available places. At Central, English and Maths GCSE have a maximum class size of 20. For the other GCSEs, and the pre-GCSE course, it’s 15.

  6. If you’re doing one of the vocational courses, you might also have another meeting, this time with someone leading that particular area, to decide which level class you’d start in.

  7. [I’m not sure where the “pre course questionnaire” comes in this process – to be confirmed!]

As some options will be irrelevant to some people purely because of age, let’s take it year by year…

Year 9 options

If you’re Year 9 age, you have one main option: the Pre-GCSE Programme, described in the next section. This takes three days a week.

In exceptional cases, it might be possible for a Year 9 student to instead start GCSEs alongside the older ones. The Choices team would only consider this if (a) the young person were already at Level 2 in both Maths and English Functional Skills, and (b) they were socially ready to join the older classes.

Pre-GCSE Programme

From the leaflet (PDF):

This one year programme is for students in Year 9‑11 and will provide students with the skills that they need to progress on to a GCSE or vocational full time programme.

  • Level 1 & 2 Functional Skills in English and maths

  • BTEC Level 1 Certificate in Applied Science

  • Tutorial Programme that includes: Personal and Social Development and Employability and Progression skills

For this one, you can’t pick and choose among the different bits. It’s either do the whole lot, all three days a week, or don’t do it.

For example, in the 2016 to 2017 year, the draft timetable said Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, starting at 9am and finishing at 2.30pm, or 3.30pm on Thursdays.

Although everyone’s in the same class, they’re not necessarily doing exactly the same activities. A typical pathway would be to do Level 1 Functional Skills over the first half of the year, then Level 2 over the second half. But if, say, it took you all year to do Level 1, or if you were better at maths than English or vice-versa, that’s fine too.

Year 10 options

In Year 10, you can choose from:

  • The Pre-GCSE Programme described above.

  • GCSE courses.

  • BTEC Level 1 Certificate in Art and Design.

  • Possibly an ICT qualification, if there’s enough take-up.

  • In future years, possibly an “Automotive” programme. The web page for this is still up at the time of writing, but apparently there hasn’t been enough interest to run it in 2016-2017.

GCSEs

The current GCSE options are:

  • GCSE English

  • GCSE Double Science

  • GCSE Maths

  • GCSE Psychology

  • GCSE History

Over the year, each GCSE equates to approximately three hours a week in college. Double science is six hours and gives you two GCSEs at the end.

Typically, each subject would be scheduled as a three-hour chunk with a break in the middle, one morning or one afternoon a week. (There are pros and cons to this scheduling: they’re aware that students aren’t always keen on the long session, but the up side is it’s then easier to schedule the rest of the typical non-schooler’s busy week.)

GCSE exams for “external candidates”

At the moment, the five subjects listed above are the only GCSEs on offer. The main limitation to offering more different ones would be having staff to deliver the courses, as most of Central’s provision isn’t GCSEs. It’s not very likely to expand in the near future.

However, the college does also offer a paid service for “external candidates”, i.e. people who’ve done the learning elsewhere and want somewhere to take an exam.

That’s known as the “Exam only service“.

Art & design half-day

New in September 2016 for Years 9 & 10 is the Art & Design course for home educated students. It’s a BTEC Level 1 Certificate in Art and Design.

You can do this course by itself. It would be one half-day a week, at the Clifton site. Or you can do it together with another course, as long as the combination meets the Government’s funding rules and doesn’t clash in the timetable.

Year 11 options

In Year 11, you can choose from:

  • Any of the things from Years 9 and 10 described above, if they’re at the right level to suit you, and/or

  • Joining in with older students on a selection of “intensive vocational learning” courses across the college.

The jargon word for becoming part of the older ones’ courses is “infill“. So that option is known as the “Year 11 Infill Programme”.

Year 11 Infill Programme

Here are the “Infill” options:

Subject Where?
Art & Design Clifton
Automotive London Road
Business & IT Maid Marian Way
Care & Early Years Maid Marian Way
Construction Beeston
Engineering Highfields
Photography Maid Marian Way
Science Maid Marian Way
Sport Clifton
Travel & Tourism Maid Marian Way

Map showing central college sites in Beeston, Stapleford, Clifton, Highfields and the city centre. Based on a screen shot from OpenStreetMap, as linked elsewhere in article.

(Click on map to see it full-size. Or to zoom in for local details, use original map from which this screenshot was taken.)

Each of these courses would be about two-and-a-half to three days per week.

They can run alongside GCSEs and/or half-day add-ons, if the timetables don’t clash.

The qualification could be e.g. BTEC, City & Guilds, CACHE, IMIAL or another industry specialist one, depending on the course you’re doing. For more about each specific course, click through from the list at Central’s page for people age 14 to 16.

These courses are divided by “levels” (as discussed above), where Level 2 is meant to be roughly equivalent to GCSE A* to C, and Level 3 is roughly equivalent to ‘A’ level.

Home ed students could potentially do Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3. Which level you started at would depend on a combination of…

  • English & Maths levels from your initial assessment.

  • Other qualifications you’d already done.

  • Maybe a portfolio, e.g. if the course were art or photography and you already had work to show.

  • Discussion with the course leaders.

  • Whether you’re 16 yet, for some Level 2 and Level 3 courses. (Level 1 would be available to all Year 11s.) There are various reasons why the organisation running a qualification – known as the “awarding body” – might set a minimum age for Levels 2 or 3. The Choices team have sometimes been able to get exceptions where a 15-year-old could participate, by talking to the awarding body for that particular course – depending partly on why the limit was there in the first place.2

Even within the same level, on these vocational courses there can be several alternative classes running at different times of the week. So if you apply to these ones together with a friend, you could find yourself in different classes. But if you were at the same level, you could put in a request to be in the same class – no guarantees.

Finding out more

If your question isn’t answered here…

  • You could ring the Choices team on 0115 884 2278.

  • You could email them: centralchoices @ centralnottingham . ac . uk (without the spaces).

  • You could comment here (anonymously if you like) and we’ll invite the college people to comment back. This would be especially useful if you think other people might be wondering the same thing.

  • It’s also possible we’ll schedule another meeting.

Possible meet-and-chat

Brendan from the college kindly said that if there were enough of us – say 5 or 6 families – he or one of the team would be willing to travel to us, and do another little presentation and chat and answer our questions.

Subject to weather, this could be in a park, e.g. Wollaton or Highfields, so that children not very interested in the grownups’ chat can play. In that case, we would probably schedule a fall-back date in case of rain.

This possible meet-and-chat could also be a nice opportunity for some of the potential future-year-classmates to say hello.

If we do a meetup like that, it’ll be open to all current and potential home edders, and mentioned again on the blog. However, to find out whether enough people would be interested, please comment here (anonymously if you like, but including an email address) if you’d like to be invited.


Footnotes

1. Starting GCSEs in Year 9: As discussed later on in the explanation, a young person who’d already got far enough both academically and socially could possibly start GCSEs in Year 9, but this would be exceptional.

2. Minimum age 16 for some Level 2 & Level 3 courses: These age limits exist for varying reasons.

  • When it’s primarily because the government wants to discourage specialising at an early age, this likely wouldn’t apply to non-school students.

  • If it’s because of the content of the course, this would be a case by case basis, possibly depending partly on where the young person’s 16th birthday falls in the academic year.

  • If it’s because of health and safety, it’s unlikely to be varied.


Quick links to sections
GCSE & other courses for non-school teens at Central College, Nottingham
Overview by school “Year”
Geography & travel
Where we fit in to the college
Levels
Assessments, discussions, decisions
Year 9 options
Pre-GCSE Programme
Year 10 options
GCSEs
GCSE exams for “external candidates”
Art & design half-day
Year 11 options
Year 11 Infill Programme
Finding out more
Possible meet-and-chat


Note on anonymity when commenting:

If you put your email address in the “email” bit of a comment box here, it won’t be published. But blog admin people can see it, and (in this case) use it to make sure you know about the meetup.

The name you fill in would normally be shown, so if you don’t want your real name to be visible either, just write “Anonymous for this” in the “name” box, or use a made-up online name.

(All comments are pre-moderated to avoid spam, so don’t be surprised if your comment doesn’t pop straight up.)

Drumming, free taster session, Sherwood, Friday 12 August

Date: Friday 12 August 2016.

Time: 11.30am for up to an hour.

Venue: Pirate’s Play Centre, 41 Rowley Drive, Sherwood, Nottingham, NG5 1GD.

Area: off the Hucknall Road about 2 miles north of the city centre, on the western side of Sherwood, towards Basford. Brown Line buses go nearby.

Age range: All welcome at taster. In future, possibility of multiple groups for different age ranges.

Price: This taster is FREE. Please email to book, as places are limited.

Price for the possible future sessions is not yet set, but could be about £6 per person.

Bookings and enquiries: Katy is the parent who’s putting this together. To make the email address, put “Katywwebb” in front of “hotmail.com” with the “at” sign in between. Please do still put your name down if you’re interested in later sessions but can’t get to the taster, so that Katy can assess the level of interest.

I am a home ed mum with 2 boys. We did a workshop with “beatfeet” African drumming which was amazing so I’m now trying to organise weekly classes.

Taster is free, but email to book a place, as space is limited.

From September a weekly advanced booking system will be in place, amount tbc, around £6pp.

I’m hoping to get enough interest to split into age groups of around 4-7, 8-11 and 11+.

A child's hands can be seen playing an African-style drum. Part of the child's t shirt can be seen. The t shirt has in colourful letters "BeatFeet". Below the "BeatFeet" logo is the phrase "Rhythm For Life".

BeatFeet homepage – this is who’ll be running the drumming session(s).

OpenStreetMap showing Pirate’s Play Centre.

Pirate’s Play Centre web site – the page with maps on.

Nearest bus stop coming from the north: “Leonard Avenue“.

Nearest bus stop coming from the south: “Perry Road” – but there’s not much in it. Leonard Avenue is nearly as close.

Both are on the Brown Line along Hucknall Road. There are frequent buses throughout the day; the 15, 16, 16C or 17 all go there. In town, these buses go from stops T1 and T2 on Milton Road just north of Trinity Square, opposite the Victoria Centre.

Alternatively, if you’re coming from out of town along the Yellow Line along Nottingham Road, your nearest bus stop is called “Haydn Road”. Or if you’re coming from out of town along the Purple or Lime lines, your nearest stop would be a different one called “Haydn Road”. Compared to getting a Brown Line bus, these options mean a bit more walking.

On the map, it looks as though if you’re walking up from the west (e.g. from a yellow line bus), you might be able to turn down some kind of footpath just before the Free School, to take a shortcut to Pirate’s. However, it has gates, so if they’re locked, maybe not. Updates welcome if you’ve been there!

Cars & parking: Note that vehicle access is only along Kelham Drive. There is usually plenty of parking at Pirate’s.