Every year at Oxford Open Learning we write to all the examinations centres where we know our students took exams, and ask them to confirm the results our students were awarded. This provides us with a useful database of centres who have helped our students each year and are therefore often positively disposed towards taking external candidates again.
Most years the number of centres we write to is about 400, but this year it has reached a record of 463 different centres around the UK. As usual, the majority of students sat in England, especially the south and east, in line with population distribution, but Wales, Northern Ireland and even Scotland (which has a totally different system) all have a useful number of exam centres open to us.
Here at Oxford Open Learning we are very aware of how much our students depend on these centres, and we do all we can to develop goodwill and strong relations with them. There is a very strong core of about 30 exam centres distributed around the whole of the UK where we can genuinely say that our students will be able to sit any exam that we offer. Many of these centres are old friends who have been helping our students for fifteen years or more, and they appreciate the efforts that we make to ensure that our students are well prepared and informed about the exams they are sitting. This means that every year most students are within relatively easy travelling distance to their exam centre.
However, many centres are found by our students simply asking their local school or college if they can help and therefore the student has little or no travelling to do. These centres are often new to us. When we are informed of a new centre we try to contact them and explain how best to deal with our candidates and in this way the list of centres available to Oxford Open Learning students increases every year. With the number of home schooling students growing all the time, perhaps we will hit 500 soon.