Exams & Qualifications

Study options for educational qualifications

While there is no requirement for home educated young people to study for qualifications, this section outlines some of the options available to home educating families who wish to provide opportunities for their children to study for recognised qualifications outwith school.

Owing to the inaccessibility of conventional Scottish exams to external candidates, home educated young people tend to take different routes to qualifications. Further education colleges offer alternatives such as NC/HNC/HND courses, the Open University offers equivalent modules, and some children take IGCSEs and A Levels privately. A few independent schools are also willing to consider accommodating external candidates.

Further Education Colleges

Some colleges may, at the discretion of the Principal, be willing to accept children of school age for full and part-time courses. This approach has the advantage that all the work and entry for qualifications is organised by the college, but it does require at least some attendance at classes, which will not appeal to all home educating families. If a student enrols at a FE college, their parents will be liable to pay all of the course fees themselves unless the education authority is willing to provide funding. Colleges also have the discretion to waive fees, which they tend to do for low income families in accordance with Scottish Further Education Funding Council’s fee waiver policy.

FE colleges may also offer distance learning and open learning packages.


Many home educating families prefer not to enrol for attendance at a further education college, and choose instead to work independently towards qualifications. Because of compulsory internal assessment components, there are many subjects and qualifications which are not available to external candidates unless an appropriate arrangement can be made with an approved centre which meets with the examining board’s requirements. Some centres and examining boards may be willing to accept coursework which has been marked and authenticated by a private tutor.

Correspondence Courses

Correspondence courses can be an option for students who prefer to work independently, though they will be required in most cases to follow a structured curriculum and programme of work. Correspondence courses offer a wide range of qualifications at different levels and the organisations offering these courses will advise about arrangements which need to be made for registering with an examination centre and for marking and authenticating coursework. The cost of this option varies depending on the organisation and the qualification chosen, but can prove expensive.

Online schools

A number of independent online schools have been established in the UK in recent years and these may offer the possibility of home-based programmes of study tailored to exams.