Homeschooling | FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Please take the time to read our FAQs by clicking on a relevant title to see the answer to a question.

Who we are and what we do

Homeschooling is a method of educating a child within their home environment, either as the sole source of education or as a supplement to other schooling. It is has become increasingly popular with parents over recent years for a variety of reasons.

  • Frustration with teaching standards in mainstream schools
  • Disruptions in class
  • Inadequate subject variety at school
  • Bullying or other forms of harassment
  • Lack of progress or underachievement at school
  • Desire to reduce time spent travelling to and from school
  • Learning disabilities
  • Physical disabilities
  • Medical reasons
  • Religious reasons
  • Moving abroad
  • Wishing to earn qualifications not offered at school

Parents in over sixty countries now use Wolsey Hall Oxford to educate their children.

Because of its flexibility, homeschooling can be an excellent option for many children. However, it’s a big step to take, and it has both advantages and disadvantages. These are some of the most common:

Advantages

  • As a parent, you are more aware than a school of your child’s abilities, and learning can consequently be paced more accurately to match them.
  • You have more control over the curriculum and teaching methods.
  • Family bonds are often strengthened as you share views, ideas, and thoughts (and spend more time together).
  • No travel is necessary, as learning takes place at home. The time gained may allow your child to pursue outside hobbies and interests in a way that isn’t possible with a tight school schedule.
  • The home environment is generally less noisy and pressured than a school, so your child may find it easier to concentrate. This can be particularly important for children with learning difficulties.
  • Homeschooling is more flexible than traditional schooling, which makes it ideal for families living in unusual circumstances (we’ve had one student who lived full-time aboard a catamaran!), children training as elite athletes, and many others for whom a more flexible schedule allows them to pursue other passions whilst keeping up with their studies.
  • At Wolsey Hall, you’ll be supported by a team with over a hundred years of home study experience between them.

Disadvantages

  • You will need to actively seek out ways to provide and maintain a social life for your child, either with their existing friends, with other children being homeschooled nearby, or through clubs, activities, sports, and other opportunities. Socialisation is a common concern amongst parents new to homeschooling, but in our experience children educated at home are usually well-socialised and in fact have more opportunity to interact with all age groups, and not just their peers, than they would at school, which can be very beneficial.
  • Another concern for many parents considering homeschooling is that they will be ultimately responsible for their child’s education. But by choosing Wolsey Hall we will share that responsibility with you, so you should always feel supported and able to contact us with any concerns.
  • Effective homeschooling, even when pursued through a home study college like Wolsey Hall, requires high levels of self-motivation, and both you and your child must be quite disciplined. It also requires a time commitment from parents. This is not an option to choose if you are not able to provide a good level of support to your child in addition to that provided by Wolsey Hall.
  • Your child needs to be comfortable with and committed to being schooled at home for it to work.

The Wolsey Hall system of learning has been developed over many years, and carefully balances independent study with guidance and feedback from tutors.

Wolsey Hall supports students who are learning at home by providing a mix of course textbooks, online resources, assignments, and tutor assessment and feedback.

Nearly all of what we do happens online via our state-of-the-art learning platform. This contains a range of resources which complement the course books and serves as the primary means of communication between students and tutors. Students submit assignments and receive feedback on these assignments via the learning platform. We also invite parents to become online observers of their child’s course. This means that parents are linked to their child’s course via the online system and have full access to the resources there, as well as to their child's feedback from his or her tutors.

We can think of at least five key reasons to choose Wolsey Hall to support your child’s education:

1. We’re supportive

We know that educating at home can be daunting, and it’s important to us that our students and their families never feel that they’re “going it alone”. Our team is committed to helping our students successfully complete their courses. Our experienced Directors of Studies, Support Managers, and Tutors all play a role in each of our students’ education. They are available to respond to any queries that you or your child might have. We also recognise the importance of learner support, and we can advise and help students with dyslexia, ADHD, and other learning disabilities.

2. We’re fast and flexible

You can enrol your child on a Wolsey Hall course any day in the year – we don’t have cut-off dates or enrolment periods. This is because most of our courses lead to exams which are held in either the summer or winter sittings. The flexibility of homeschooling combined with our system of rapid feedback, means that your child can prepare for their exams more quickly than in a mainstream school. Course books and online resources are carefully tailored to the curriculum/exam syllabus, so your child will be able to focus on exactly what they need to know. As a result, many of our students sit their exams one year or more ahead of their peers.

3. We have 120 years of experience

We’ve been supporting students on home study courses since 1894, so we know a lot about effective home study. We use this experience to enable your child to complete their course successfully, become an effective independent learner, achieve the best grades possible if an exam is to be taken, and develop valuable life skills along the way.

4. We’re thinking about the future

Exam results are important, but we also strive to instil our students with skills for life – skills that will equip them to continue their education and thrive in their chosen career. Our experience has also taught us to be adaptable, to embrace changes in technology, and to stay at the cutting edge.

(In 1894 our students received course materials via the “penny post”; these days they have instant access to a cloud-based learning management system and the best online support available!)

5. We’re a not-for-profit organisation

Wolsey Hall is a not-for-profit organisation with any surplus reinvested to improve our courses and our service to our students.

How it Works

Wolsey Hall offers courses for families wanting their children to complete IGCSE or A level qualifications in a range of subjects. We offer one of the broadest range of IGCSE courses of any home study college. We also offer Key Stage 2 courses for children aged 7 - 10 and Key Stage 3 courses for children aged 11 – 14.

For IGCSE or A level your child will receive a certificate from the examination board (either Cambridge (CIE) or Edexcel depending on the subject. This will indicate the grade that your child has obtained.

For Key Stage 3 we provide an end-of-course report based on your child’s performance on the course in the key areas of English, Maths and Science.

Yes, absolutely! Your child can study with Wolsey Hall from outside the UK as easily as if your family were resident here. We have students from across the globe and as long as you have an Internet connection your child should be able to keep up with their studies wherever they are. As in the UK, you will need to make arrangement for your child to sit the examination as a private candidate if they are enrolled on an IGCSE or A level course.

If you live abroad, your child can usually sit their exam(s) at your local British Council office or at an International School. However, we do recommend that you contact the British Council or local schools before your child begins their course to make absolutely certain that you know where they will be able to sit the exam from day one. We can advise you on this if you have any questions.

As soon as you enrol your child on a course:

  • You and your child will receive profiles of your child’s tutors so you can get in touch as soon as you wish.
  • Your child’s course books will be despatched. Our curriculum development team choose the best and most interactive learning texts available and these are constantly reviewed to ensure that your child is always working with the latest editions. In most cases the books are endorsed by the relevant examining body.
  • Within the UK, course books normally arrive within 3 working days. Outside the UK we arrange for courier service where possible, which normally takes between 3 – 6 days, depending on the country in which you reside.
  • Your child will get access to our online learning environment and its resources as soon as they’re enrolled, so that they can commence studying right away.
  • Your child’s Support Manager will develop an individual study schedule for your child based on the time they have available for study, the number of assignments in each subject, and the examination/course completion date – so your child will have a clear structure within which to study.
  • Our online learning environment contains all of your child’s course resources and is easy to use. You will be able to access it separately from your child, as an “Observer”, which means that you can see the feedback your child gets from their tutors and see all the available resources.

    Among the resources contained on the learning environment are:

    • The syllabus for the subject(s) being studied. Here you and your child will both be able to clearly see the topics covered in the course and, for IGCSE or A level courses, how your child will be assessed.
    • The Programme of Study for the subject(s) being studied, which shows your child exactly what material needs to be covered before each assignment.
    • The assignments. Your child submits these to their tutor online via the learning environment and will receive grades, together with helpful feedback, within 3 – 5 working days of submission. This rapid turnaround helps to keep your child feeling supported and motivated throughout the course.
    • A wide range of online resources and links, such as interactive websites, videos, and tutor-prepared materials, all of which complement the course books.

    How long a course will take depends largely on your child’s prior knowledge of a subject, and how quickly they learn. But we estimate, on average, that your child should allow up to 150 hours of study for an IGCSE subject and 500 hours for an A level subject (250 hours for AS and 250 hours for A2). Put another way, students generally take IGCSE courses over 6-12 months (for up to 4 subjects) or 12-24 months (for 5 - 8 subjects). Students normally take A levels over the course of two years.

    We offer Key Stage 3 courses over two years and your child should comfortably be able to take five or more subjects during that time, or in less time if they have already covered some of the syllabus. We've specially designed these courses to be taken over two years rather than three as we believe this suits the capabilities of most young people and enables them to start their IGCSEs a year earlier than their peers – providing them with a head start in their education.

    For KS3 courses, students have regular assignments to complete which will be marked by their tutor. For IGCSE and A level courses, assignments are designed to prepare students fully for their exam. These assignments do not count towards the exam grade, but they are assessed, and your child’s tutor will provide extensive feedback. In many cases the assignments are based on previous exam papers, so they are an excellent opportunity for your child to practise answering the kinds of questions they’ll face in the exam.

    The Internet is a powerful tool: it enables people of all ages to work, study, learn and socialise. There are risks in using the internet, however, and at Wolsey Hall we want our students to feel safe while enjoying the benefits of being online.

    So what are the risks?

    • Content risks include material that is not age appropriate, is biased or untrue, that might disturb or upset a child.

    What websites does your child like to visit?

    Do you know what to do if you or they see inappropriate content on them?

    • Commercial risks include advertising, in-game spending, personal data gathering, spam or scam emails.

    Does your child keep personal information safe and do they know what personal information not to give out online?

    • Conduct risks include bullying, risky or illegal behaviour and posting inappropriate content online.

    Does your child know what is illegal online? Try the quiz at: www.accidentaloutlaw.knowthenet.org.uk

    • Contact describes someone targeting another individual online in order to commit a crime or abuse that person.

    How does your child know their friends online are their real friends?

    If they were to meet with someone they met first online what would they need to do first?

    How to keep your child safe online

    • Talk about the Internet with your child. Discuss your concerns and listen to their worries.
    • Use filtering software but don’t rely on it. Explain to your child why it is in place.
    • Agree rules together. Everyone in your household has a part to play.
    • Make sure your child knows what to do. Online risks can occur at any time. Make sure you all know what to do if things go wrong online.

    Useful links for further information.

    UK Safer Internet Centre has information, advice and resources on all online matters www.saferinternet.org.uk

    Parentport helps you report unsuitable online content including advertisements and games www.parentport.org.uk

    Know the Net for advice, quizzes, tests, online etiquette, password advice and more www.knowthenet.org.uk

    CEOP is where adults and children can report actual or attempted abuse online www.ceop.police.uk

    Exams and centres

    You will need to apply to an exam centre for your child to take their exams for IGCSE and A level (there are no exams for Key Stage 3). We regret that we can’t do this for you, but your Student Support Manager will be able to help and advise you about examination arrangements.

    In the UK the Cambridge and Edexcel exam boards have centres throughout the country. See our map here to find your nearest centre. Outside the UK, the British Council will usually be the exam centre of choice, though there may also be a nearby school which will accept private candidates. And see the Cambridge and Edexcel websites for lists of centres outside the UK.

    Support

    It’s very important to us that your child feels supported throughout their course. This support should come from three sources:

    1. Tutors. Your child will have a tutor for each subject they choose to study with Wolsey Hall Oxford; these tutors will assess and grade their assignments. We also invite you and your child to arrange a Skype call with their tutors before starting the course. This is a “get to know you” call and will give you and your child the opportunity to ask tutors any questions they might have about the course itself. Your child can then contact their tutors via the online environment throughout the course. It’s important to note that tutors do not give “online tutorials”, and their primary role is to provide feedback on assignments, but you may also make an appointment to talk with a tutor via Skype if your child has a problem they can’t resolve on their own or by email exchange.
    2. Student Progress Managers. Your child’s Progress Manager will be their – and your – key link with Wolsey Hall Oxford, dealing with any administrative issues such as changing your child’s study schedule, helping you to find an exam centre, or anything else on which you or your child need advice.
    3. You! Parents have a critical role to play in homeschooling their child. When parents are involved in their child’s education and work with their children on a regular basis, the homeschooling experience will be much more successful.

    It’s vital for parents to be involved with and be supportive of their child when educating at home. Exactly how much involvement varies – students at Key Stage 3 level, for instance, will probably need more guidance than those studying for A levels – but there are a number of important ways that you can help:

    • There are certain to be times, however good the course and however bright the child, when the going gets tough. At these times you can offer your child encouragement and discuss the issues that they are finding difficult – there may be tangible actions you and your child can take to improve the situation.
    • You can encourage your child to contact their tutors or Support Manager. Sometimes students are reluctant to do this, but bear in mind that we want our students to be motivated, independent learners, and to succeed in their studies – it’s what our team is there for!
    • You can ensure that your child has a daily and weekly timetable for studying each subject, similar to what they might have in school. Children find having a structure within which to work helpful when they’re learning at home. A timetable agreed between you and your child will provide that much-needed structure to the day and can prevent you both from feeling overwhelmed by the task at hand.
    • You can review progress with your child, relative both to their study timetable and their Wolsey Hall study schedule, at the end of each day and week. This will ensure that any potential problems are spotted early and allow you to gauge how well your child is doing and if there are any aspects of the course that are proving difficult. Don’t forget, too, that you have access to your child’s online learning environment as an “observer”, so you can monitor progress this way.

    If you feel your child is falling behind on their work, you can contact your Student Support Manager to rearrange your child’s study schedule. If there are further complications please do let us know as soon as you can so we can work with you to find a suitable solution.

    We’re proud of our team of highly-qualified and experienced tutors. They come from a wide range of academic and professional backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common: a love for their subject and a passion for passing it on to their students. You can meet them here.

    Fees and Payment

    Course fees vary depending on the course and payment schedule. Current fees are as follows:

    Course Title Course Fee
    (if paid by Instalments)
    Fee in full
    with 5% discount
    Course
    Fee
    Initial
    Payment
    Monthly
    Instalments
    Instalment
    Amount
    Key Stage 2 each subject (per year)  £395 £91 8 £38 £375
    Key Stage 3 each subject (full course over 2 years)  £625 £145 8 £60 £593
    Key Stage 3 each subject (Year one or Year two)  £395 £91 8 £38 £375
    IGCSE each subject £425 £97 8 £41 £403
    IGCSE French/German/Latin/Spanish each subject £525 £109 8 £52 £498
    A Level each subject £725 £165 8 £70 £688
    AS or A2 each subject £425 £97 8 £41 £403

    Note that:

    • Course fees include all required books, but not their postage outside the UK.
    • Examination fees are payable separately to the examination centre.
    • Monthly fee payments must be completed at least two months before the date of the examination.
    • Fees are payable by bank transfer (BACS in the UK); secure online invoice, debit/credit card over the phone, or cheque.
    • We offer a discount of 10% to students taking 5 or more Key Stage 3 or IGCSE subjects or 3 or more AL subjects.
    • We offer a sibling discount of 10% where more than one child is enrolled. The discount applies to the second and any other child enrolled.
    • If you'd like to pay monthly over a longer period than that shown, please let us know.

    Course fees include:

    • All required books (though not their postage outside the UK)
    • Access to online resources
    • Support and feedback from tutors
    • 3 - 5-day turnaround of assignments
    • An assigned Support Manager, available to contact throughout the course

    You may pay for your fee in full or by instalments. If you choose to pay by instalments, you commit yourself to paying the agreed fee over a period of time, usually 8 months. Please refer to our fees page for details.

    Application and Enrolment

    You can enrol your child at any time of the year – we don’t have cut-off dates or enrolment periods because exams for most of our courses are set at either the summer or winter sittings. We can therefore support your child for whatever sitting you agree with us is the most appropriate at the time your child is enrolled.

    You can apply online at any time. If you would like advice before you do so, just submit our contact form or telephone our Freephone line: 0800 622 6599 from within the UK or 0044 800 622 6599 from outside the UK.

    Contacting us

    If you have any questions that aren’t answered here – just submit our contact form, telephone our Freephone line: 0800 622 6599 from within the UK or 0044 800 622 6599 from outside the UK.