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Fully online courses curated carefully to cover awarding body specifications.

Many schools and colleges have had to respond rapidly to the requirements of social distancing to reduce the impact of covid-19.  Although most schools and colleges have risen to the challenge, the transition from classroom to home learning has not always been plain sailing, after the experience of using online methods of supporting students during lockdown,  many are now looking at innovative ways  to widen the curriculum for their students. 

The National Extension College (NEC) can help.

Our online distance learning courses cover GCSE, AS level and A level, as well as Functional Skills and vocational courses.They will enable a school to offer a greater subject choice – stretching your most able students to achieve more at Key Stages 4 and 5, and developing the important skills of independent  study that will prepare them well for university and the world of work. 

As well as supporting home educators and adult distance learners since 1963, NEC has been working with secondary schools and colleges for over 20 years. By  working with NEC, a school or college can offer additional subjects to their students (with no minimum enrolment numbers). Enrolment and study timetables are entirely flexible, so students can fit their additional studies around the school timetable. 

NEC offers:

All  the online courses lead to qualifications from the major UK exam boards and use well designed, structured course materials written by specialists in distance learning and their subject area. (Most of our A level courses can also be followed at AS level.)

Flexible enrolment

Providing you leave enough time for the student to meet the assessment requirements, you can enrol a student at any point in the year and there are no minimum enrolment numbers. Students can study anywhere, from home or at school.

Tutor marked assignments

A GCSE or A level course will typically have 10 tutor marked assignments, these are carefully designed and structured to enable the tutor to give helpful and formative feedback as the student progresses through the course and prepares for the exams. NEC tutors work on a one to one basis with the student providing individual feedback and academic support. All of our tutors are DBS checked, hold a teaching qualification, are subject experts, and have experience of teaching online.

Email schools@nec.ac.uk to discuss how NEC can work with your school.

How can NEC help your school?

NEC is a charity with over 55 years’ experience and a commitment to widening access to education.

Working with NEC enables you to:

  • offer your students at Key Stage 5 non-mainstream subjects (such as philosophy, history of art and psychology), particularly valuable for students who want to go on to university to study subjects not often on offer at school or college.
  • respond to the needs of your students at Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 who are unable or unwilling to come to school – for example those with a long-term illness, who are struggling with mental health issues or who are at risk of exclusion.
  • give your students the opportunity to develop the habits of independent study in preparation for university – including the most able and those who don’t respond well to a classroom setting.
  • Choose a nominated mentor or teacher who will be given access to our Progress Portal, a platform that provides information on student progress, grades and additional information about online learning.

Read one school’s experience of NEC’s service.

Read our case of a national open school.

NEC guide for schools and colleges

With over 20 years’ experience of working with schools and colleges to offer their students additional subject options, NEC has a wealth of expertise in supporting you and your students with flexible learning. We’ve put together a free guide to flexible study options at GCSE and A level, to show you how online distance learning can fill gaps in your curriculum to help give your students more subject choices. It also gives you guidance on overcoming timetabling clashes, and supporting students absent from school.

Download NEC's free guide for Schools and Colleges [PDF]

How NEC supports your students learning

All NEC’s courses are designed to be flexible, so the learner can work at their own pace. This means that your students will be able to fit their independent study schedule around your timetable requirements, and any other commitments they may have. They can access their course online wherever they are, whether they are at school, home or on the move. With course materials and assignment feedback from NEC, and input from your school’s nominated mentor/teacher, students will have the support they need to excel.

Student study skills guides

In partnership with the University and College Admissions Service (UCAS), NEC has produced a series of study skills guides for sixth form and college students to help them make the transition from school to university or college. The guides include practical activities and advice to help students brush up on their skills and develop the habits of effective, independent study.

The guides cover:

  • Understanding and answering exam questions
  • How to present an argument
  • Time management
  • Proofing and editing your work
  • Academic essay writing

You or your students can download the free study skills guides on the UCAS website.

Courses designed for online distance learning

All NEC’s courses are designed specifically for online distance learning – we are leading innovators in the field. Learning is delivered through a range of media including videos, ebooks and online quizzes, as well as printable materials.

Our courses have been written by experts in the subject area, and each student has a subject tutor assigned to them, who is a qualified teacher as well as a subject expert. The tutor will mark assignments and provide robust feedback, which will allow students to prepare in the best way for their exams, and all our students also have access to our dedicated student support team.

More information about NEC’s teaching and learning methods.

Exams and non-exam assessment (NEA)

Following the cancellation of the 2020 exams, NEC, as a registered exam centre, were able to offer centre assessment grades to eligible students and book exam places for the autumn sitting. Covid-19 has caused upheaval across the education sector and we can provide certainty and flexibility at an unprecedented time. More information about the exams situation in 2020 and how we dealt with it as an educational charity can be found here.

Generally, the schools and colleges we work with take the responsibility for entering their students for the exams they need to take for the subjects they’re studying with us. But if, for some reason, this isn’t possible, we can offer students a place at one of our partnership exam centres. Please do get in touch with us by email exams@nec.ac.uk to discuss your needs, if you think this might be helpful for you.

Like many of the subjects your school or college offers, many of NEC’s GCSE and A level courses now include non-examination assessment. For the subjects NEC offers, this could be a practical endorsement, spoken language endorsement or written coursework. 

As an approved centre, NEC is able to mark and authenticate coursework (as part of our exams service). We are also able to offer venues that accommodate the endorsements. 

Once your students are enrolled with us, we’ll send you a welcome pack which includes more guidance regarding exams and NEAs, but you can find more information about exams and non exam assessments here.

Affordable independent study with NEC

As an education charity dedicated to helping independent learners to achieve life-changing qualifications, NEC wants to keep fees affordable.  We set our course fees on a cost recovery basis to ensure that they are affordable for individual students, who are often paying their own fees. Any surplus we make is reinvested in improving the quality of our courses and developing our student support services.

In addition to the course fee, we charge an administration fee of £100 per course. This fee covers setting up and managing the account, confirming contact information, sending regular updates on student progress, and providing any other help and advice your school may need, for example on exams and assessment.

Additional resources and licensing for schools and colleges

NEC is a long-standing online and distance learning resource developer, with a track record of successful partnerships across the FE and skills sector. Licensing NEC materials can enable you to benefit from a proven, activity-based approach to learning, developed over many years. If you are interested in learning more, please contact info@nec.ac.uk.

If you’re looking for learning resources which will offer a completely flexible approach to supporting blended and online learning, face-to-face teaching, flipped classrooms and more. You have the option of a single-user or multi-user licence, depending on your needs. Visit our resources web store here.

If you’re looking for A level, GCSE or other titles not found in our web store, get in touch at info@nec.ac.uk