GCSE Art and Alternatives for Home Educators

While there are many GCSEs and IGCSEs that are fairly straightforward for home educated children to sit as private candidates, some practical subjects, including art, present more of a challenge.

Why is GCSE Art Difficult for Homeschoolers?

The reason that GCSE Art is a difficult for homeschoolers is that all exam boards include a significant Non Examined Assessment, essentially this is a portfolio of work, what we would have previously called coursework. It needs to be assessed by someone approved by the exam centre. All exam boards also include an externally set task which involves 10 hours of supervised work which is also difficult for exam centres to arrange.

The 10 hours supervised work, along with the need for the portfolio to be assessed and the fact that there are limited number of exam centres, means that taking art also costs significantly more than the average cost of GCSEs for home educators.

A note on language: In my posts, I refer to “homeschooling”. In the UK, the correct term for educating your child at home is “home Educating”, with homeschooling referring to a child doing work at home that has been set by school. I use the the term homeschooling in my posts because many people who are new to home educating will use the term homeschooling when searching online and I want to make sure they can find the information.

Working with a Provider for Art GCSE

The nature of the art GCSE means that the only way to do it as a home educator is to work with a provider that has a partnership with an exam centre. These providers have been approved by the exam centre to mark the portfolio element of the GCSE.

I am only aware of 2 primarily distance learning options, both with some in person attendance required, they are:

The Art and Design room offers GCSE Art and Design including the Textiles option. Much of the course is delivered via Zoom but there are also practical days to attend (near London). 

Inner Art offers GCSE Art and Design to homeschoolers both online and in person. The online course includes practical days that learners need to attend (in Surrey). They are partnered with Tutors and Exams for the Non Examined Assessment (NEA).

There are also sometimes local tutors who have an arrangement with an exam centre so it’s also worth asking in local home education Facebook groups. If you have a Tutors and Exams Centre near you it would also be worth asking them if they partner with anyone locally.

Alternatives to GCSE Art

In order to gain a place to study art or a related subject post 16, many colleges won’t actually require an art GCSE. For Art courses, colleges will often take into account a portfolio of work created by your young person. They may also look favourably on a qualification that is of a similar level to GCSE like those described below:

NCFE Art and Design Related Courses with Technology Triumphs

Technology Triumphs offers many of their courses at both level 1 (the same size and level as a GCSE at grades 1-3) and level 2 (the same size and level as a GCSE at grades 4 and above).

They offer the following subjects:

NCFE Art and Design Courses with Aced Qualifications

Aced Qualifications offer a 12 module level 2 art and design course. It is designed to be take over two years but this is flexible so you can take more or less time.

They also offer an NCFE Level 2 qualification in Photography which works in the same way. Both courses are at the same level as a GCSE at grade 4 or above and around the same size.

The Online College of Art and Design (OCAD)

OCAD offers a number of Art courses. While this includes IGCSE following the Cambridge Exam Board spec, they only offer the course content, not assessment and that particular specification isn’t actually open to private candidates. They do however offer other distance learning art courses, photography courses and design courses including a level 2 OFQUAL regulated course that is of a similar level to a GCSE at grade 4 or above.

The Arts Award

The Arts Award is a well respected and flexible way to demonstrate skills in the arts. It can be based on the wider arts like music, dance, pottery or even mime. There are 5 levels: Discover, Explore, Bronze, Silver and Gold. Silver is at the level of GCSEs and the gold offers to UCAS points. You will need to work with a registered centre but there are many who accept home educated children. The minimum age for the silver award is 11.

Cambridge National in Creative iMedia Level 2

This course is equivalent to a GCSE and is sometimes taught in schools. It can be a great option if your young person is interested in digital art and animation. It is available to home educators via Teachallaboutit. It is a two year course and can either focus on games design or animation.

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Homeschooler doing GCSE Art, text reads "GCSE art and alternatives for home ed"

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