And so at last I have been forced to face my nemesis - the fear that the path we chose to take six years ago when we withdrew our children from school may have been a bad decision. The past few years have proved particularly worrying for me as my eldest daughter reached that age when, if at school, she would have been taking shed-loads of GCSE's followed by 4 or more A levels. I decided to let her choose her own path at this point...............seriously scary I can assure you!
For those of you who don't know her, my daughter is a very creative person - great at art, acting, singing and music in general. She did a correspondence course in painting and drawing and then decided at 16 that she might like to go to college to do a level 2 diploma in art and design (a GCSE level course). To get on this course she needed at least 2 GCSE's at grade D or above. So she set about studying over 5 months for IGCSE's in English and Biology, which she passed with a B and an A respectively. She completed the level 2 diploma and passed with a distinction*, but found the course unchallenging. However, one of her tutors recognised that she had some potential and advised her to consider applying for an Art Foundation Course at Coleg Sir Gar in Carmarthen. We were pretty surprised at this because this course is post-Alevel but she applied and was offered a place. I'm happy to say that she has found this course stimulating and enjoyable. Despite it being an intensive course with a hefty workload she seems to have found her level!
But I digress......always in the back of my mind there's been this niggling doubt that her lack of formal qualifications would go against her if she wanted to apply to University. This has been my nemesis.
Well my daughter has decided that she wants to study Theatre and Performance Design and so she duly applied. There really wasn't much to put on the UCAS form.... 2 IGCSE's and a Level 2 diploma! I really wasn't sure if she'd even manage to get any interviews. I wondered if they'd just file her application in the bin because she didn't meet the basic entry requirements. I needn't have worried......she got her interview invitations. Now all I had to worry about was the interviews themselves and whether anyone would offer her a place!
So far she's been to Trinity St Davids in Carmarthen, and Wimbledon College of Art and she has received conditional offers from both - in both cases the only condition is that she complete the Art Foundation Course.
There are two more interviews to go but I don't feel as stressed about those now. Looks like her unconventional approach to her own learning and personal development is working.
I guess it might have been a different story if she'd wanted to be a doctor or an accountant, but I suppose she would have directed herself differently if that had been the case. What I find endlessly fascinating about home education is the way that learning and development happen no matter what. Sometimes when I try to think back about what we've "done" as a home educating family I struggle to think of anything that seems significant. Yet "it"(whatever "it" is) must be happening because I see the evidence over time.
I can't help but feel proud that my daughter has felt confident enough to take her own path and not to feel intimidated by common perceptions about what she should or shouldn't have been doing. She knows her own mind and I suspect that is what makes her stand out from the crowd. Maybe that's also why doors are opening for her even though she may not have quite the right keys!