Home Education

Home Educating Information

There are a variety of reasons that over 100,000 learners are now choosing to be home educated; flexibility, focused learning, and developing a closer relationship with your child, to name just a few. Each home educating family does things differently, with no right or wrong way, some choose to teach based on their own knowledge, some form communities of like-minded families and create learning hubs, and others choose to enrol their learners on distance learning/online courses.

Our Home Educating Information page aims to give you answers to some of the questions you have about learning from GCSE level upwards.

If we haven’t answered your question, please feel free to contact us.


Do I need to follow Welsh Government specifications?

Schools (in Wales) follow the WJEC syllabus for subjects taught in the classroom, when you are choosing to educate your child at home, you have the choice to follow whichever syllabus/curriculum you chose. Generally, qualifications which are designed to be delivered in a classroom in the traditional school environment are not a good fit for home education. Courses involving practical elements, fieldwork and coursework are difficult to follow at home with limited resources, however there is a solution!

International GCSEs or IGCSEs as they are more commonly known were originally designed to enable children outside of the UK to access a UK standard of education. Over time, these IGCSEs have become increasingly popular with private schools and home education families because they are designed to be studied outside of a standard UK classroom environment. These qualifications are ranked the same as their GCSE counterparts and usually the syllabus is almost identical, with a few small tweaks such as no coursework, fieldwork or practical requirements.

LearnOnline Home Education - qualifications hand with pen writing on paper with cup in background
LearnOnline Home Education - how many subjects to follow? Child playing the game Chess

How many subjects do we need to follow?

There is no minimum requirement to study a set number of subjects, however there are some guidelines below which should help.

At pre-GCSE level (key stages 2 and 3), most learning will be interest based and your child will enjoy learning about new things, so a wider range of subjects/topics can be studied.

When it comes to GCSEs (key stage 4) our experience has demonstrated that children will perform better in subjects that they enjoy and others will become a chore. Try to choose relevant subjects to your child’s interests and goals. At the core you will want to include Maths and English Language which covers 2 subjects, ideally you will want your child to achieve 5/6 qualifications as this is the minimum required for progression to A-levels, apprenticeships, employment etc. While some schools will study 9 or 10 subjects, speak with your child and choose the ones which they feel they are going to need for the future, but also enjoy!

When it comes to A-levels (key stage 5) 3 subjects is the common choice, with 4 subjects being popular among those that have not got a specific career goal in mind and want to try a few options with the possibility of dropping one subject once they have made up their mind. Most university courses will only consider 3 A-level subjects in their applications, so a learner with three A grades will score higher than a learner with 2 As and 2 Bs, so it is something to consider before you start studying these subjects.


Wherever possible, most families who home educate their children tend to follow courses which have little or no coursework elements, as these can be more difficult to complete as you need to find an exam centre with a teacher willing to mark the coursework. For GCSE courses, this means following IGCSEs which have been designed specifically without coursework, making them less complicated with regards to coursework/exam arrangements.

A-level courses do tend to include coursework in most subjects with a few exceptions. When choosing an A-level course, it is important to speak with your proposed exam centre to see if they are able to assess or accept the coursework marks. If you are planning to use the support of a provider for the A-level course, it is important to speak with them regarding the coursework elements and how it will be managed. Unfortunately, it is often at the time of booking exams that families discover the centre (or provider) they wish to use is unable to facilitate the coursework element, so it is something to consider before you begin studies.

UK Science A-levels have a practical coursework element, which is not required (but advised) to complete the qualification. Before embarking on A-level science study, it is important to consider whether the practical endorsement element is required (most, if not all university courses will require this). The A-level science practical endorsement is usually completed towards the end of study, prior to the exams, and takes the form of a week long residential workshop.

LearnOnline Home Education - coursework Woman sat on floor with laptop
Exams image Laptop with exams room set up in the background


Exams generally take place in the early summer period (May/June) of each year, with some subjects having additional exam opportunities available in October or January too. It is important to plan your studies from the exams backwards, if your child completes their studies in July they will have to wait 11 months to sit their exams! It is also very important that you book your exams as soon as possible as exam centres only have a limited capacity.

You should be considering booking your exams 6-8 months before the exams themselves. If possible, you should try to book exam places around October/November as most places will be fully booked before the Christmas break.

Exam fees as another important consideration, most IGCSEs contain 2 written papers and can cost approx. £80-£100 per paper. These fees are usually due at the time of booking the exams.

Access Arrangements

If you child is entitled to extra time in their exams, has the use of a reader, scribe, word processor or has any other access arrangements, it is vital that you discuss these with your exam centre at the time of booking the exams. Exam centres should accommodate your child’s access arrangements; however you will find that they only have a limited capacity – if possible, have these conversations as early as you can! Each exam centre will have their own procedure for managing access arrangements, and what is offered at one centre may not be available at another. You may need to provide evidence of your child’s need from a doctor or specialist, or alternatively your child may need to complete an educational assessment with the exam centre to determine what the appropriate access arrangements will be, as this takes time it is something that may not be possible if you are booking exams close to the deadline dates.

For more information regarding Access Arrangements, please click here to view our Access Arrangements Fact Sheet

LearnOnline Home Education - two women at a desk talking
LearnOnline Home Education - results Young man throwing paper in the air in delight


After the exam papers have been marked, the exam results are sent to the exam centre where your child is registered. In most cases your child is able to collect their results in person from the centre on results day, and many centres will email the results too (with the results slips being posted out).

Please ensure that your exam centre has all of the correct postal and email addresses for your child to ensure that results reach you without delay.

LearnOnline Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to be in the United Kingdom (UK) to enrol?

No, as LearnOnline is studied remotely, you do not have to be in the UK to access our courses.  

IGCSEs exams can be sat in over 150 countries globally, but if studying an A level outside the UK it must be conserved that exams must be taken within the UK.  

For those who wish to complete an A level outside of the UK, LearnOnline offer International A levels where the exams can be taken outside the UK 

Is there an enrolment deadline?

LearnOnline offer flexibility in the enrolment stage and learners can enrol at any time with the exception of the Fast Track A levels.  

It is worth noting that the exam dates are set by the awarding body so your study time may be restricted by when you choose to sit your exams.  

How long do I have access to my course?

From date of enrolments: 

  • IGCSEs = 2 years (24 months) 
  • A levels = 3 years (36 months) 
  • International A levels = 3 years (36 months) 
  • Fast Track A levels = 1.5 years (18 months) 
  • Business Training Courses = 6 months 

How old do I need to be to enrol?

There are no age restrictions to enrolling onto our courses.  

Learners under 18 will be required to have a mentor allocated (parent, career, teacher etc).  

What support is there for learners under 18 years old?

Learners of any age can enrol onto our courses.  

Learners who are under the age of 18 must have a mentor allocated when enrolled onto the LearnOnline platform. This can be a parent, guardian, close family friend or even a tutor from their school.  

Mentors will be able to view the learner’ progress on the course, contact the course tutor directly and be included in the administration emails.  

Any additional support that might be required can be discussed at enquiry level, prior to enrolment.  

Is there financial support available for fees?

The LearnOnline IGCSEs, A levels, Fast Track A levels and International A levels courses are available to pay by payment plan, which requires a deposit payment to enrol followed by monthly instalment, no interest charged.  

LearnOnline are not able to offer loans such as Advanced Learner loans.  

Can I pay in instalments?

Yes. A deposit is to be paid to enrol onto the course and following payments will be set up via Direct Debit for monthly instalments 

IGCSE courses: 25% deposit, followed by 5 monthly payments.  

A level & Fast Track A levels courses: 25% deposit, followed by 6 monthly payments.  

International A Level: 25% deposit followed by 6 monthly payments via Standing Order. There may also be additional bank charges if overseas, which are not covered by LearnOnline.  

Payment plans do not apply to the Business Training courses.  

For more information, please visit our Terms and Conditions page. 

How much does a LearnOnline course cost?

LearnOnline courses vary deposing on what you wish to study. Prices for the individual courses can be found on the course pages.  

  • Business Training courses vary from £15 to £625 
  • IGCSEs courses are from £495 
  • UK A level courses are from £850 
  • International A level courses are from £950 
  • Fast Track A levels courses are from £900 

Is there a minimum/maximum number of courses I can study?

There is no limit on the number of courses learners can study at any one time.  

LearnOnline ask learners to be mindful of their ability to fit in studying around their other commitments.  

Are these qualifications accepted at University?

IGCSEs and A Levels are accepted in all UK Universities. It would be worth checking the specific course you have in mind to ensure that you are studying the correct subjects. 

What are the entry requirements?

There are no formal requirements to enrol onto LearnOnline courses.  

We recommend that all learners have a good grasp of the English language and suggest that learners have GCSE, or equivalent stage, knowledge prior to studying an A level.  

More details are within the individual course pages.

What awarding bodies do LearnOnline follow?

LearnOnline have chosen the awarding bodies based on the best resources to support online learning. They vary from AQA, Cambridge International, OCR and Pearson Edexcel.  

Click on the course pages to see what the course you are interested in follow. The course pages include links to the course specification.  

Where can I sit my exams?

There are exam centres across the UK who support private candidates, which is what you are considered as an online learner.  

We recommend contacting your local schools and colleges to ask if they support private candidates. If they don’t, LearnOnline provide a list of known centres across the UK who support private candidates.  

The awarding bodies list centres on their websites who support private candidates, including centres outside the UK.  

For some courses LearnOnline will be required to make the entry via our FE College, Pembrokeshire College. Learners are not expected to sit their exams at Pembrokeshire College, there are processes in place to transfer learners to their local centre.  

If local to Pembrokeshire, you can enter to sit your exams at Pembrokeshire College.  

LearnOnline strongly recommend researching this prior to enrolling onto your course and booking as early as September or October prior to your exams in the summer series.  

With the exception of the Prince2 courses, Business Training courses do not have exams.  

Prince2 courses offer online exam at a date and location convenient for you. Alternatively, the paper-based exam can be taken in exam centres around the UK (centres in London, Newcastle, Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Chester and York).  

How can I access past papers?

IGCSE and A level (including Fast Track and International) include a set of the latest past papers available or what the team feel are most appropriate for that year.  

Learners can access past papers via the awarding body websites or contact the LearnOnline Team.  

What are the exam entry deadlines?

Entry deadlines will vary for each centre. Please do not rely on the Awarding Body deadlines, as these are the final deadlines for the exam department to enter you. Most centres will have earlier deadlines.  

Pembrokeshire College exam entry deadlines are as follows:  

  • November exams:      31st August 
  • January exams:          30th September 
  • May/June exams:      15th January 

When should I contact an exam centre?

LearnOnline recommend contacting your exam centre as early as September or October prior to your exams for the summer (May/June) series. 

General rule would be 6 months prior to your exams to avoid disappointment.  

What is the difference between IGCSE and GCSE?

‘I’ stands for International, but that can be a little mis-leading. It means that GCSEs can be obtained globally, whether you are in the UK or not.  

GCSEs are limited to UK exams only whereas IGCSES can be sat in over 150 countries worldwide.  

For some IGCSE subjects there is the option to sit exams in the Winter exam series (January). 

IGCSEs are mostly 100% written exam based, making it easier for private candidates to complete their exams. GCSEs tend to have coursework, oral, listening or practical tests, which can make finding an exam centre difficult.  

What is the difference between a UK A level and Edexcel International A level (IAL)

UK A levels: 

  • Exams can only be sat in the UK and can include coursework or practical assessments.  
  • Qualifications are linear meaning exams are set in the final year of assessment.  
  • There is either 2 or 3 written exams in total.  
  • There is only one exam series a year – Summer (May/June) series. 

Edexcel International A levels 

  • Exams can be sat outside the UK and more often than not 100% written exams. You cannot sit the Edexcel IAL in the UK.  
  • Qualifications are modular, split into AS and A2, with the option to sit AS exams one exam series and A2 exams in another exam series. You can also sit all exams in the final year.  
  • There are usually 6 written papers in total.  
  • There are usually two exam series; Autumn (October/November) and Summer (May/June) series each year 

Cambridge International A levels  

  • You can sit these exams inside and outside the UK.  
  • Qualifications vary between modular and linear.  
  • There are usually two exam series; Autumn (October/November) and Summer (May/June) series each year 

Can I do a LearnOnline course alongside my mainstream studies?

LearnOnline is flexible, you can work at your own pace and fit your studies around your current commitments. You will have 24/7 access to our online learning platform, and you will not be restricted to term times.  

What safeguarding policies do you have in place?

Please read LearnOnline safeguarding policy and details here 

How is a learner’s progress tracked?

LearnOnline provides complete freedom, meaning learners can study their courses at their own pace and timetable without being chased to submit work.  

Learners can view their submissions and track their work within the LearnOnline platform and request reports at any time during their studies.  

LearnOnline provides guidance on how to create a study timetable to ensure they can fit their studies in before exams and around other commitments.  

If a learner has a mentor the mentor can track the learners progress with their own login to the platform.  

Can a parent interact with a tutor?

Learners under 18 and those who have requested a mentor (over 18 the we need learner’s permission to allocate mentor) they can contact the tutor directly via the online platform or via email.  

Anyone can request contact via the LearnOnline Administration team or email the tutor directly.  

What is a mentor’s role?

Designed for learners who are under 18 to have additional support, but anyone can be a mentor should the learner (over 18) give permission.  

A mentor can be a parent, carer, private tutor or teacher at a school.  

Mentors are given a separate login to the LearnOnline platform, giving them access to the learner’s progress, tutor marked assignment feedback and ability to contact the tutors directly.  

Mentors have access to the Welcome to LearnOnline module, which includes:  

  • guidance to learners on time management 
  • stress control 
  • safeguarding 
  • tips on studying, research and internet use 
  • revision support 
  • how to book exams 
  • UCAS support  
  • plagiarism guidance 

Mentors will receive notifications sent via the platform and copied in on email correspondence with the tutors, although they will not be copied in on correspondence on assignment feedback directly.  

This access means the mentor can support the learner in the areas they may struggle with, such as booking exams, setting a timetable etc. Mentors are expected to help the learners keep on top of their studies and follow internal deadlines given.  


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Please contact the LearnOnline team for more details

Phone: 01437 753 490

Email: online@pembrokeshire.ac.uk 

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