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Entering Students Privately for GCSE Exams

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by sdgreen, Jan 18, 2018.

  1. sdgreen

    sdgreen New commenter

    Hi - does anyone have any experience of this. I am trying to enter a student for French GCSE exam but most of the schools I have contacted say they do not take external candidates (despite their details being shown on the examination board's website) or that their quota is full ... I am at a loss how to proceed with this. Any advice would be welcome. Thanks
  2. David Getling

    David Getling Senior commenter

    Everyone has a right to access the GCSE and A-level exam system, in order to better themselves. So you need to contact the exam board and tell them that their listed schools are refusing to accept external candidates. If this gives you no joy then contact your local MP. I've found that the Labour ones are much better than waste of space Tory MPs.

    A very important thing to keep in mind is that most schools think they are above the law or can dictate it. It's quite possible that they are obliged to take external candidates, but see themselves and their fellow schools as the final arbiters of who should be allowed to take an exam, and are affronted by the impertinence of anyone who tries to do so without their blessing.
    anabush likes this.
  3. doctoryes

    doctoryes Occasional commenter

    Perhaps by external candidates they mean former pupils of that school who are resitting?
    I have worked as an exam invigilator and it's possible that the current JCQ rules for private candidates may have changed in a way that makes it more difficult for some schools e.g. verifying identity of candidates.
    What do they mean by a quota being full. The costs of entry fees should easily cover any extra invigilators or rooms required?
    Have you tried any other providers apart from schools e.g. FE colleges, private training providers etc? They may be more flexible than schools.
    needabreak likes this.
  4. thekizzaa

    thekizzaa New commenter

    Or you could find places other than schools that run as an exam centre. Do a search for "exam centres" in your area, and I'm sure you'll be able to find something! Best of luck.
    needabreak likes this.
  5. frustum

    frustum Lead commenter

    Would the local home education network be able to make any suggestions?
  6. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    Try the LEA as they might have EWO schooled students or students at a PRU sitting exam and they might be more sympathetic with you.
  7. anabush

    anabush New commenter

    Small private colleges will be more than happy to help, but I guess it may not be that cheap. Our local college used to charge around 200 pounds, and it was almost ten years ago.
  8. BG54

    BG54 New commenter

    I've done some tuition work in the past for a charitable trust that runs BTEC courses and they had horrendous problems 2 years ago trying to find a centre to accept Maths and English GCSE resit students as external candidates. They ended up travelling over 60 miles in a minibus to take the exams, hardly the best preparation for a morning exam.
  9. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I agree that they should have, but schools do not have to accept private candidates. See, for example, https://www.aqa.org.uk/student-support/private-candidates/finding-a-school-or-college.
  10. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    The problem is at ifthe exam is not one they are doing then they may have to pay an invigilator for the private candidate.
  11. David Getling

    David Getling Senior commenter

    Thanks for that Piranha. Shame on AQA and other boards that take such an approach! While I'd agree that if no one at the school is sitting the exam they have every right to refuse an external candidate, AQA and other boards should force schools to take up to 5% or 10 % of their student numbers as external candidates.
  12. ladyofrohan

    ladyofrohan New commenter

    Private schools are more inclined to take private candidates but can be expensive. I suspect that exams will be easier to take as a private candidate now because there is no coursework/controlled assessments in the new exams.

    I managed to find a state secondary willing to take 3 private candidates for French (all home educated) and they are doing the speaking tests for us (I can't do one of them as she's my daughter!) I'm also a little out of the loop as it's a new exam and I no longer teach in a school. One of the parents already knew the exams officer, so sometimes personal contacts are more useful!

    Generally we've always gone with the exam board that the school are using to make invigilation easier (with my older kids).
  13. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I really don't understand why schools won't add students to an exam that their own students are sitting. They are allowed to charge for it, and should be able to make a small profit.The school where Mrs P was Exams Officer used to do it. I suppose that there might be an issue if it put pressure on resources, but that should not happen if the numbers are small relative to the number taking it from the school concerned.
  14. Wotton

    Wotton Established commenter

    A few years back I arranged for a student, not languages, who needed extra time and an individual room to sit an exam as an external candidate. It was cheaper than an exam centre and local. Perhaps it is just in your area.
  15. ladyofrohan

    ladyofrohan New commenter

    I don't understand it either. The private school where my eldest sat exams were great - organised the extra time he needed etc but the exams officer changed and they no longer accepted private candidates. Another local private school had the same situation - new exams officer presumably didn't want the hassle! We did find another private school for my 2nd son but they were expensive.

    Our local state sixth form was annoying too - my eldest had done Latin GCSE and wanted to sit AS in year 12 but as they didn't teach it, they made us pay the exam fees - but were happy to include it in their success stats in the local paper!!

    We are really lucky and grateful that the state school has been so accommodating over the French. Now just trying to work out whether to enter them for Foundation or Higher! In some ways I wish there was just 1 paper like English - or still allow a combination of F/H papers.
  16. adamcreen

    adamcreen Occasional commenter

    How? Force how? What legal or financial mechanism could they use?

    PS My state school has private candidates all the time. Anyone near Chertsey would be very welcome!
  17. David Getling

    David Getling Senior commenter

    Very simple. All exam boards should make it a condition of using them that schools have to accept a certain percentage of external candidates in subjects they have registered their own students for. Any school that starts whinging about how unfair this is should be told to consider how unfair they are being to external candidates.
  18. doctoryes

    doctoryes Occasional commenter

  19. Wotton

    Wotton Established commenter

    The student I entered just brought their passport, simple.
  20. toby_vintin

    toby_vintin New commenter

    Apologies for a lengthy response... I work for a college which also serves as an exam centre for private candidates. We happily accept applications for many qualifications, including GCSE and A Levels, from private candidates across most subjects (including those with controlled assessment elements). As previously mentioned, the entry fees are higher than the basic exam board entry cost but then there are also many administrative costs associated with the process - room hire, invigilation, physically making entries, etc - which need to be covered. In my experience dealing with each of the exam boards, as well as Ofqual directly, private candidates really are a bit of an after-thought and many of the rules and regulations are not created with anything other than a traditional school environment in mind. I have attended exam board delivered, exams officer training sessions and spoken with numerous school representatives and some will consider accepting private candidate applications from past students but most simply do not want to know, whether sitting exams for the first time or as a resit. In many cases, candidates do seem to struggle to find a centre willing to accept them. There are similar centres to ours across the country although it's not always possible to find one willing to accept an application in the local area. Consequently, we have candidate travelling from across the country to our centre in Macclesfield. Re. the subject of identification, we require references upon application and photo id to be presented for every exam - it really doesn't have to be difficult....

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