University admissions

I was delighted to hear about Shena Deuchars's daughter getting a place at Exeter University on the strength of 190 points from the Open University. I don't know how common this, but it is very encouraging to hear about. On the subject of university admissions, I am sure that we both know that the two people whose names always crop up are Alex Dowty and Chris Ford. When I wrote a piece for the Times Educational Supplement last year, it was inevitable that the person chosen to oppose my view mentioned both these young men. My difficulty with a lot of the stories about university admissions for home educated young people is that the details always seem to be shifting and changing. One never quite feels that one has got to the bottom of the matter!

I felt this very strongly when listening to Chris Ford's mother Janet on the wireless the other day. The standard story about her son is that he was autonomously educated, went to college at fourteen taking GCSEs and A levels and then went to university. I had been curious about this, because of the difficulty that many teenagers have in getting on to academic A level courses without already having a GCSE in the subject. People have quoted Chris Ford as a knockdown argument about this, telling me that this proves that it is possible to get on an A level course without having any GCSEs. His mother though revealed during her interview that he had taken a GCSE in mathematics when he was twelve, which presumably enabled him to get into college to do A levels.

I do wish that details like this were more generally known, as it might prevent a good deal of anguish when people try to get into college at sixteen without any GCSEs. One thing that I did find a little puzzling was that Janet Ford said that she couldn't remember how many A levels her son had taken, although she thought it might have been five. This is strange, because I have never met any parent who did not know how many A levels her son had. It is after all only a single digit between two and five and cannot be that hard to remember!

I wonder if anybody else knows of definite examples of university admissions like that of Shena Deuchars' daughter, by using Open university points? I am ware that some universities put this on their websites, but this is the only recent case of which I am aware of a teenager getting in without any other sort of qualification.