Blog: August 2017

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Do you have to be at school to study a GCSE?

 "Study a GCSE wherever you want, whenever you want."

You don’t have to be at school to study a GCSE

With Autumn just around the corner, it’s time to consider your study options. The good news is, you don’t have to be at school to study a GCSE. NEC courses are studied online, giving you the flexibility to study exactly where and when you like. There’s a wide number of subjects to choose from too, including all of the essential subjects such as maths, English and science, as well as some of the less common ones such as psychology and sociology.

Over the last couple of weeks, of course, GCSE students across the country have received their GCSE results, including those studying with NEC. This year is the first time that new specifications with numerical grading were examined for maths and English. We’re delighted to announce that 100% of NEC students who sat the new exams passed!

Who wants to study for a GCSE once they’ve left school?

NEC students choose to study for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the reasons they gave us in a recent survey. 40% said that they planned to go onto higher education, a further 15% were planning further education of some kind and 35% were looking to change career or to get a job.

Two of the careers mentioned most often were nursing and teaching. you need maths and English GCSE at grade C or grade 4 or above to be allocated a place. The flexibility of studying with NEC and the tutor support from a subject specialist were the main reasons students chose to study with NEC. If you’re thinking about a career in nursing or teaching, take a look at our free career tracks guides. They’re packed full of practical information for people thinking about becoming a teacher of a nurse.

One such student is Andrew Greenwood. Working in a primary school in Hampshire as a learning support assistant convinced 28-year old Andrew that teaching was the right career for him. Although he has a first degree in psychology, he needed a GCSE in a science subject at grade C or grade 4 to study for a teaching degree. Studying for an IGCSE in Combined Science prompted him to rethink his career plans. With a grade B under his belt, Andrew is off to do a doctorate in psychology. He plans to spend almost half his time as a postgraduate student treating children and adolescents. Once he has completed his doctorate, he intends to return to working with children, as an educational psychologist, for example, or working with CAMHS, the NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.

You may be planning to home educate and looking for an alternative way to gain GCSE qualifications, like Mairéad who received her results yesterday.

16-year old Mairéad Sherry, who lives in County Down, Northern Ireland, has been home educated since the age of four. She has good reason to be proud of what she’s achieved so far through distance learning with NEC. On top of the three A* for the IGCSE exams she took this summer, for Combined Science, English Language and French, she was awarded two A*s last year, for IGCSE Maths Higher and Geography, and a B for IGCSE Business Studies. Mairéad’s experience of distance learning has been so positive that she’s already enrolled for Maths, French and Biology A levels with NEC and will start studying again in September, She has her sights set on university.

Whatever your reasons for study, rest assured that you don’t have to be at school to study a GCSE. If you’re inspired by Andrew or Mairéad to enrol on a GCSE this Autumn, get in touch with NEC’s expert course advice team. We’ll be happy to help.

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Thursday, 17 August 2017

2017 A level results day: The impact of A level reforms

Today's blog is from NEC’s exams and assessment expert, Louise where she reflects on the first exams for the new linear A levels.

Up and down the country A level students are receiving their exam results today. They’ll find out whether or not their hard work has paid off and for more than half a million students, whether they have secured their place at university (Source: BBC News).

Among these will be students who have studied through NEC, perhaps entering for exams at one of our 13 partnership exams centres. NEC students are as diverse as the range of courses they choose, from young people being home educated, to adults looking for a mid-life career change. One’s thing is for certain though, we’re inspired by each and every one of them and want to see them succeed.

This year is a results day with a difference. It’s the first time that the new linear A levels for 13 subjects  have been examined. What this means is that students will be relying entirely on the results they get today to determine their future, where previously the AS would have contributed to the final grade.

It’s also the first time the science subjects have had the practical elements of the course decoupled and reported separately.

These changes were brought about in order to make A levels more ‘fit for purpose’ (or as this has been interpreted by many, more difficult). It has been widely reported that this change has been stressful for students and educators alike. As NEC’s exams and assessment expert I have seen a lot of concern from our exam centres, from students and from teachers. Today we’ll start to see what the results of these changes have been.

The Guardian have reported this morning that overall, for the first time in six years, there has been an increase in top grades. The same cannot be said for the new-style A levels however, where they are reporting a drop in top grades.

It’s still too early to tell what the impact of the A level reforms has been, but we’ll all be watching this space closely.

To any NEC student getting their results today, do get in touch and share your #examsuccess with us on Twitter at @nec_home_study or send us an email. If you have any questions about your results, either call us or send an email and we’ll be happy to help you.

Louise Tolhurst
NEC Exams and Assessment

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