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.

Dance meetups, 11 to 18, Nottingham city centre, Wed / Thur / Fri

Non-schoolers age 11-18, dancing for enjoyment. You don’t have to be “good at dance”!

Date: We’re currently planning to vary the day-of-the-week, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday – so that it won’t always clash with the same other things, to enable more people to join in sometimes.

The next one actually booked is:

  • Thursday 19 October

Other dates we have in mind for autumn 2017, to be confirmed when the studio’s actually booked:

  • Friday 10 November
  • Wednesday 15 November
  • Thursday 23 November
  • Thursday 30 November
  • Friday 8 December
  • Thursday 14 December
  • Wednesday 20 December

Any updates or cancellations will be amended here.

Age range: 11 to 18. Unfortunately this has to be an exact limit, as it’s set by the venue we’re using (presumably related to their funding agreements). In practice so far, it’s mostly 11 to 14 year olds who have been interested. There has been some talk of setting up a similar event for under-11s at a different venue.

Time: 1.30pm to 3.30pm.

If you’ve not been to NGY before, turn up early to get a membership card. It’s free to join. You’ll need the card to beep into the door from reception to go upstairs. Beep out every time as well, as it’s how they keep track of who’s in the building in case of an emergency.

If you like, you can download the membership form here, print it out and fill it in beforehand, to save time on the day.

After the dance session, there’s an option for 11-18-year-olds to stay on in the social space for a while (table-tennis, pool table, comfy chairs etc).

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

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

Price: £2 each, for the dance studio hire. Pay the reception person when you arrive. (NGY’s dance studio can be booked by any NGY member at a rate of £1 per person per hour.)

Booking: Non-schoolers the right age can just turn up on the day. But if you want updates, or just to let us know to look out for you, email dance-meetup at non-school-nottingham dot org dot uk.

Colourful lettering announces "Nottingham non-schoolers' dance meetup", adding "If you're aged 11-18, you learn outside school, and you love dancing... have a look!" On a maroon coloured background, some purple stick figures are dancing and smiling.

How it works

The young people themselves are deciding what to do in the 2 hours.

At the first meetup, people took turns to choose a song to dance to. Not everyone knew each other beforehand, but everyone was friendly.

One idea for future meetups was that half the time could be more of the “choose songs and improvise to them” and the other half could be developing and rehearsing duets or trios or group dances. But it just depends on what people decide to do on the day.

A quote from the first meetup: “No-one was in charge, but we all had ideas”

Guidelines for the session

We want everyone to have a good time!

so here is a kind of “dance group code of conduct”:

(let us know if you have ideas for making it better!)

* Look out for each other in a friendly way, so e.g. if someone seems to be left out or seems not to know what’s going on, it’s everyone’s role to include them, as a team.

* Discuss together how to use the time and what everyone wants to do. Consider dividing up the time into chunks. For example, you might agree at the start to have 20 mins doing X, 20 mins doing Y, then stop and have a think about what to do next.

* Try to make sure that everyone gets to do at least a little bit of what they wanted – e.g. if one day, most people want to do Thing A but one person wants to do Thing B, have at least 5 or 10 minutes that day where some Thing B gets to happen.

* Take turns making suggestions, and listen to each other’s ideas. If you’re doing one big dance, think about ways to build up a big dance from smaller pieces so that everyone has come up with part of it.

* It’s OK for someone to be a leader or choreographer for one particular dance. Over the weeks, everyone should get a chance to take that role if they want to, or to put in ideas to someone else’s dance if they don’t want to choreograph a whole one.

* If you’re leading the group in learning something, think about respectful ways to point out to people how you’d like them to do it, e.g. “Could we have everyone doing it like this?” (and demonstrate how you want it and how you don’t want it)

* No criticising other people’s clothes or bodies, and no teasing (except maybe some friendly teasing with people you know well enough to know for sure that they don’t mind it). Not that we think you would do this, anyway! Just saying.

* If there are any problems with the room, e.g. the music player doesn’t work or it was too hot or cold, talk to the person at reception. If they can’t help you themself, they can probably find someone who can.

* If there are any disagreements or problems that don’t get resolved entirely satisfactorily, talk about it afterwards with [coordinating parent] and your parents.

* The main aim is to enjoy the dancing and enjoy each other’s company in a friendly way, as well as the satisfaction of practising and learning 🙂

Practical tips & what to bring:

Music

The dance studio comes with a music speaker that has an input cable with a small plug, like the kind on headphones. So if you want to bring music to play, it needs to be on something with that kind of headphone socket (e.g. a phone or an ipod).

You can get the venue’s wi-fi password from the person at reception, and there were no problems with the wi-fi being too slow. So as long as it’s working, you’ll be able to get music from the internet, as well as whatever you brought.

Clothes & shoes

Wear comfortable clothes that you can move about in.

Most people will probably dance barefoot, but if you’d rather wear shoes, wear soft clean grippy ones.

Dancer checklist for the day

Comfy clothes
Water bottle
£2 for the studio hire
Your NGY card if you already have one
Anything else that you might need that not everyone would, e.g. asthma inhaler or whatever

Optional extras…
Music, on phone/ipod/similar
Notebook & pen/pencil, or phone or tablet, if you might want to make notes or swop contact details
Snack, or extra money for the food counter if it’s open
Dance shoes, if you don’t want to dance barefoot

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

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.

“Smile” drama/music show in libraries, Nottingham/Notts, October

“A delightful musical adventure for children aged 3 – 5 and their families”

Date: Various dates from 9 to 20 October 2017.

Day & date in Oct Which library
Monday 9 Beeston (sold out)
Tuesday 10 Nottingham Central
Wednesday 11 Dales, Sneinton
Thursday 12 Bulwell
Friday 13 Worksop
Monday 16 Mansfield Central
Tuesday 17 Hyson Green
Wednesday 18 Wollaton
Thursday 19 Sutton-in-Ashfield
Friday 20 Arnold

Time: 10.30 to approx 11.10 (running time 40 minutes).

Age range: Aimed at ages 3 to 5.

Price: £2 per child; accompanying adults free.

Bookings: List of dates, libraries and how to book for each one.

Details: Not specifically a home ed thing – open to anyone.

“Augustus the tiger was sad. He had lost his smile.”

Based on the book Augustus and His Smile written and illustrated by Catherine Rayner and published by Little Tiger Press, www.littletiger.co.uk

Find the book in the library system

Access, parking, maps etc: Most library listing pages have some access & travel info. List of Nottingham City libraries, inc Central, Bulwell, Dales (Sneinton), Hyson Green & Wollaton. List of Nottingham County libraries, inc Arnold, Beeston, Mansfield, Worksop and Sutton-in-Ashfield.

Show poster, with a painting of a sad-looking tiger. Main text is: "SMILE. Augustus the tiger was sad. He had lost his smile. A delightful musical advenure for children aged 3 - 5 and their families."

Forest School, Tuesday & Thursday afternoons, Sneinton

Date: Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, from September 2017.

Start dates for autumn 2017: Tuesday 12 & Thursday 14 September. (Lauren will also be running a similar session on Mondays in Heanor, Derbyshire – out of area for this blog, but do contact her if you’re interested.)

Booking deadline for those sessions: Friday 1 September.

Time: 3.30pm to 5.15pm.

Venue: On land behind the Iona school. 310 Sneinton Dale, Nottingham, NG3 7DN.

Area: Sneinton, on the 43 (red) bus route, not far from Colwick Woods.

Age range: 4 to 12, divided into 2 groups by age.

Day Age
Tuesdays 4 to 7*
Thursdays 8 to 12*

* These are guideline ages; there’s potentially some flexibility. An example might be if siblings of 7 and 8 wanted to be in the same group. Have a chat.

Price: £10 per session, booked in blocks, typically 5 sessions to a block. Sibling discount of 25%. “Provided we are not fully booked, we are happy for your child to attend the first session as a trial before committing.” If the groups are full, you can go on a waiting list.

Booking: To book, contact Lauren who runs it. Email lauren at intothewildwood dot co dot uk, or use the contact form at Into the Wild Wood.

This isn’t a home-ed-only group, but home edders are welcome.

Into the Wild Wood

Drawing of woodland. Mostly green, with dark green leaves in the foreground, and a bird flying away up ahead.

Sessions led by Lauren Kinnersley, a Steiner Waldorf trained practitioner who is Level 3 Forest School trained, supported by staff from the school. Sessions include storytelling, tool use, games and nature crafts. Maximum group size is 10.

Bigger map showing the Iona School.

Access info:

At Iona there is a compost toilet and the site is accessible with paved paths. We have a maximum group size of 10 with two adults supporting. Parents do not normally stay at the sessions, but if your child has a particular support need, parents are invited to stay and support their child to enable them to participate.

Nearest bus stop: “Skipton Circus”, on the 43 route, Red Line.

Parking: There is parking at the school.

EMHEM 2017 weekend – camping or dorms, Beaumanor, Leicestershire, 17 to 20 August

EMHEM = East Midlands Home Ed Moot! “An opportunity to get together and have fun in beautiful surroundings.” All home ed families welcome.

Date: Weekend of Thursday 17 to Sunday 20 August 2017.

Time: Thursday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. If you can only do 2 of the 3 nights, ask for more info.

Venue: Beaumanor Hall, Woodhouse, Leicestershire, LE12 8TX.

“a Victorian country house located in Woodhouse, Leicestershire. Set in 34 acres of idyllic countryside, Beaumanor has been run by Leicestershire County Council since the 1970s”

Photo: a large red-brick hall with pointy roofs and tall chimneys is viewed from above, as if from an aeroplane. It stands within formal lawns and is surrounded by woodland. A further courtyard can be glimpsed to the left of the picture. The horizon can be seen in the distance.

Area: The hall is about two miles south of Loughborough Central train station “as the crow flies”, near the village of Woodhouse.

Age range: Family event for all ages, with at least one adult (18+) in each family/friends group. Rafting is 7-plus only.

Price: Age two and under go free. Everyone else pays per person. The price depends on which type of accommodation you choose (if that kind is still available). These prices are for 3 nights. Rafting and survival/shelter activity are extra; see below.

Accommodation Price per person
Camping (own tent) £29
Camping (pre-pitched) £42
Dorms £51

Included in the accommodation price is the provision of jacket potatoes and pasta/rice for the evening meals. Bring your own toppings/sides/extras.

Optional extras:
Rafting, £22, for age 7+
Survival and shelter building, £15, no age limits.
These will be on the Saturday. Adults can book onto them too.

The staff we feel are excellent leaders and work well with the children.

Booking: Email emhem at non-school-nottingham dot org dot uk.

What to include in the booking email:

  • total number of people coming
  • ages of kids
  • accommodation preference
  • whether you’d like to do one of the add-on activities
  • an activity/workshop/game which your family might be happy to contribute/share/lead.

Beaumanor Hall itself is used predominantly for weddings and corporate events, but they do rent out cabins and tents to schools, scouts and other youth groups regularly. They run many workshops and activities for groups of all ages and abilities and have a long established history of accommodating the needs of Home Educating families at a
reasonable rate. To this end, throughout our stay, we have unlimited use of all the grounds, including the formal gardens, woods, playing fields and playground. There are various trails and treasure hunts to follow, a spare marquee for activities and dining, and communal indoor space in the Gage Cabin which sleeps 24 (2×10 and 2×2 ) in bunks as well as a shower block and a games room. Close to Woodhouse, Beacon Hill, The Outwoods and Bradgate Park, there are also plenty of opportunities for exploration nearby.

No Dogs, except guide dogs
No individual fires (the insurance was just too much)
This is a residential visit. There needs to be at least one adult (18+) in each family/friends group.

Beaumanor Hall web site.

Map showing Beaumanor Hall:

Bigger map showing Beaumanor Hall

“How to find us” page on Beaumanor Hall web site.

Nearest conventional railway station is Loughborough, two to three miles away by road. The Beaumanor Hall web site says there would usually be taxis available at the station.

It’s also about a mile from Quorn & Woodhouse heritage train station on the Great Central Railway heritage line between Leicester and Loughborough, which will be running on the Sunday (not the Friday).

There is a Beaumanor Hall bus stop at the bottom of the drive up to the Hall (about 500 yards).

Bus timetable for the 154, which runs hourly during the day on Friday, but doesn’t run on Sundays.

Parking: There is parking at Beaumanor Hall.

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.

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

Date: Thursdays throughout the year.

Time: Late morning through afternoon – typically starting about 11.30 or 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. As of spring 2017, it looks as though some teens are planning to make it a regular thing as well.

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".

Swimming lessons, Bramcote, Thursdays & Fridays

Lessons with Liberty Swim School. These sessions were set up specifically for non-school children.

Date: Thursday & Friday mornings throughout the year, except Bank Holidays.

Time: Half hour sessions through the morning.

Venue: Bramcote Leisure Centre (Liberty Leisure), Derby Road, Bramcote, Nottingham, NG9 3GF.

Area: Bramcote, on the A52 near Bramcote Park. West side of Nottingham, about a third of the way over towards Derby. Reachable by Trent Barton bus.

Age range: 4+ for beginners / foundation level. Tends to be 5+ for ASA levels 1-3, 10+ for ASA levels 4-6.

Price: £18.75 per month. Payment is monthly direct debit. It goes all year round because the lessons do too. Besides the lessons, this payment includes free swimming for the child at any other public session.

Booking: Book by contacting Helen Kirk, helen dot kirk at liberty-leisure dot org dot uk or 0115 917 3585.

Helen says “I am looking to put on more lessons to accommodate demand, so they may need to be patient with me.”

Bramcote Leisure Centre

Three grinning young children cling to a red board or red edge of a swimming pool, wearing swimming costumes.  The background is water splashing up in the pool.

Additional info via one of the home ed parents:

Swimming lessons for home ed kids in the area. Initially suggested by a home ed mum, they took up the idea, and it seems to be going well.

They follow the ASA stages, and the ability levels are

  • Foundation: never been in a pool before
  • Stages 1-3: starting to learn to swim independently, from 1-2m unsupported, to 25m by the end of stage 3
  • Stages 4-6: swimming widths of the main pool, progressing to swimming lengths of the main pool.

Classes are limited to 6 students.

There is a large seating area by the main pool where parents can wait, or a reception area downstairs.

The viewing area is NOT open to the public during lessons, except during the summer holiday when there is a disabled swim session in the main pool.

Map showing Bramcote Leisure Centre:

Bigger version of map showing Bramcote Leisure Centre

Buses: Heading west (from Nottingham), nearest bus stop is “Bembridge Court“, by the Sherwin Arms, stop ID “ntsadamd”. This is about 500 yards from the leisure centre as the crow flies. Trent Barton 18, 20, 21 and i4 stop here.

(Nottingham City Transport buses don’t run to this area – nearest is the Pink Line 30.)

Cars: Lots of free parking available at the leisure centre.

Coming from Nottingham on the A52 Derby Road, you’ll want to pass the leisure centre on your right, go round the next roundabout and double back onto the A52, as it’s a dual carriageway at that point. Then you can turn off left for the leisure centre.

Heading east (into Nottingham), there’s a slightly nearer bus stop, “Leisure Centre“, stop ID “ntsadama”. The i4 stops there.

Access info:

The leisure centre has good access for wheelchairs: lifts, a hoist into the pool if needed.

The main pool area is large, and can be very echo-y. The smaller teaching pool is less so.

Instructors sometimes change at the last minute, which some children find hard to cope with.

New home ed sessions at Nottingham City Gymnastics Club – now 4 days a week.

The sessions at NCGC are proving so popular, they’ve now added extra ones on Monday and Wednesday mornings. And the times for Tuesday and Thursday afternoons have changed slightly.

The times of home-ed-specific sessions are now as follows:

Monday 10am-11am “Structured” session
Monday 11am-12 noon “Unstructured” session
Tuesday 12.45-1.45pm “Structured” session
Tuesday 1.45-2.45pm “Unstructured” session
Wednesday 10am-11am “Structured” session
Wednesday 11am-12 noon “Unstructured” session
Thursday 12.45-1.45pm “Structured” session
Thursday 1.45-2.45pm “Unstructured” session

Other info about the club and sessions remains the same, so please see previous writeup. Or if you’re ready to sign up, just click through to the club’s booking page.

Nottingham City Gymnastics Club logo

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

Update Spring 2017: please note that this writeup is about the 2016-2017 academic year, so by now, that’s LAST YEAR’s intake. We hope to have an updated version on the blog in due course, describing the courses that’ll start in September 2017. However, a lot of what’s here is still going to be true.


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.)