Exams News

Considering Exams for Next Year?

Our main exam page is hereThe best place to start your proper research is reading the Home Ed Wiki. This is only a brief overview of where we are and what you might need to think about.

It can feel a bit overwhelming when you start looking into this but essentially you need to pick a subject and an Exam Board which your Exam Centre can offer.

That may mean choosing an iGCSE in order to avoid coursework (which home educators can’t generally get marked).

Then work out how best to approach the syllabus- this may be to study independently with textbooks or online resources and YouTube, you may use a DLP (distance learning provider) or you may sign up with a tutor or class.

Then you do the work and book the exam probably before January or February for a June sitting but check your Centre’s deadlines.

The situation in NI is a little up in the air. We were promised a new central exam centre (Antrim probably) in 2020 but with the exam cancellations it has never really got off the ground and the new centre didn’t help anyone get Centre Assessed Grades in 2021 sadly (possibly not in 2020 either but that was before my family entered into the whole exams chaos!).

The main Exam Board here in schools is CCEA but they’ve been hopeless this year with private candidates through the exam cancellations so it may be best to consider other providers if you definitely don’t want to defer in the case of further disruption. The proposed centre was going to offer CCEA, AQA and Edexel (also called Pearson who also offer igcses) but not Cambridge (also called CIE- who are the other igcse board) sadly.

We do believe that the EA intend to make the Centre happen but we don’t have much faith that it’s going to happen before the whole coronavirus thing passes or that any bookings will be honoured in the event of exam cancellations. To find out if the EA’s new centre will be able to help you can use this email-  to

There are schools who have historically offered private candidates the opportunity to sit but we don’t know yet which will still be doing so once this is all over or even next year. The disruption has been hard on schools and we don’t know how many will feel that they can continue to offer support to private candidates.

If you are able to travel, it may be worth considering an English or Welsh Centre as a back up option. Many candidates here have been able to use such Centres remotely this year to get an Assessed Grade, such as Faregos or Tutors and Exams.  We are told that a Tutors and Exams centre will open soon in Belfast, which would certainly be cheaper than travelling!


Exam Worries

Many parents of home educated exam candidates are concerned after receiving an email from the Education Authority this morning. The email states that all exams are cancelled and advises parents to contact the relevant Exam Board. It appears that we are on our own.

Teenager studying for Japanese GCSE with support of online tutor

We understand the complexities of these times but we believe that the EA is in a position to offer information and support to those children who are affected by this, and that the EA should not wash their hands of us.

There are two initial steps which the EA could take which would be positive.

1. The EA could issue advice to universities, colleges and schools which explains the situation for private candidates and encourages flexibility on required qualifications for admission. Many home educated children will be trying to make a case for this and their support would be appreciated.

2. The EA could investigate what the exam boards they offer will require in terms of proof and collate the information. Not only would their enquiry and concerns carry more weight, but it would ease the burden on the Board and would facilitate keeping everyone informed.

The EA spoke a great deal during the recent Consultation and Working Group on the new Guidance about the importance of building a good working relationship with home educators, and indeed about the importance of access to qualifications. Their support is needed now.


Lockdown Education

Many parents are currently thinking a lot about home education because they find themselves once again dealing with remote schooling. Dealing with remote education from the school is a little different to elective home education, which is our area of focus.

Useful groups for those home schooling due to Covid can be found here:

Many home educators have also joined those groups to provide support and advice.

To prevent the current high interest overwhelming our group we are closed to those who have not actually deregistered from school until March. This is not to be unfriendly, but to preserve our focus on elective home education.

If you are considering home education and you feel that it is urgent for you to join the group, or you need help with the process of deregistration then please message our news page or explain your situation in response to the join questions.


New Guidelines and Exam Information

The EA have published the new guidelines at, which will bring welcome clarity and information to home educators and those considering home education. You can also find exam information for 2021 here- The Education Authority ask that queries and applications are sent to

News Resources

Fantastic Fiction

Our community has been invited to take part in an exclusive story-making project by Libraries NI & Fighting words with 20 schools.

Our home educated children are very excited to be given consideration and can’t wait to submit their entries! 

The most up-to-date project information can be found at

Home educating in a pandemic

Many parents are currently considering home education, for many reasons but not least because of the pandemic.  This is a confusing and difficult time and we are doing all we can to help both new home educators and those who are dealing with having school chidlren at home.

A recent consultation gave rise to new guidance which should be coming into force in September.  Recent events make this a little uncertain, but we believe that it is a useful document for parents even before it comes into force.  Guidance is not law in any case and can only give an indication of intentions and current EA approach, so this document can be useful even while waiting for Ministerial approval.

The best starting point for any new home educator is to read the FAQs here and then join the HEdNI Facebook Group with any questions – the group is open to home educators and those seriously considering home education. For those affected by school closures we recommend this group, which has many experienced home educators in it for support and advice.

News Resources

Library Entitlement

We are happy to announce that from January the 6th 2020 home educated children can apply for a home education entitlement card. This new card will allow them to borrow more books than the standard – 15 books for three weeks rather than the usual 9.

We know how welcome this will be to families all over Northern Ireland! 

A note on privacy:

We have discussed concerns that families have over their personal data and any hint of a register with Libraries NI, and we are confident that this is a useful and positive initiative. No register will be kept and no details shared.  However any family who prefers not to take up the offer can of course continue to use the standard library card.

Meet Ups News Workshops

Artist Led Art Class – FE McWilliam Gallery

Our bi-monthly art class at the FE McWilliam Gallery was created around the gallery’s current exhibition- Together Now: The Engagement Project.

Two groups led by Deborah Malcomson started with the kids looking around the gallery to gain inspiration with a space theme in mind. After a loosening up excerise the kids started their projects.

The first was marbling.  

Using shaving foam, food colouring and templates they created their very own marble planets. 

The second project saw the kids creating space alien heads from boxes – using cut outs and string to create some seriously strange looking specimens.

The final was to style an alien using the templates provided.

As always this art class is unique and thoroughly enjoyable for the kids and the adults.

We all look forward to January’s session! 


Friendship Four – Ice Hockey game SSE Arena

A large group of home educated families got to enjoy the 3rd place game in the Friendship Four tournament yesterday for free.

The fast paced game saw UNH WildCats take third place.

It was a unique opportunity as this tournament allows local sports fans to watch the only National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) hockey tournament that takes place outside of the United States. 

A lot of team members from top American colleges are well on their way to becoming the NHL stars of the future, this was a great opportunity to see their skills.

This match was thoroughly enjoyed by all!