What's next after exams?

When your child gets their GCSE or A-Level results back, it is likely they will go into some form of further education or training. Nearly 80% of young people stay in learning after Year 11 and this is likely to rise as young people  find ways to cope with the recession.

One in five of 15 to 16 year olds have changed their mind about leaving school to find a job and more than two in five are thinking more carefully about the subjects or qualifications they choose. In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever that your child knows what options are available to them so they can make the right choices. There is a broad range of exciting qualifications and learning routes available for young people to choose from, and some of these are new. Here is a list of 'top tips' and advice to help point your child in the right direction:

After GCSEs

  • Take time to talk through all the options with your child, making sure you listen to what they are interested in doing - never try and force them down a route they're not happy with
  • Ensure you understand different forms of higher and further education- things are likely to have changed a lot since you were that age and you need to be well informed to offer your child guidance
  • If your child doesn't want to continue in academic study then encourage them to look at other options. Make sure they understand that further education doesn’t have to mean a classroom. Your local college should offer a range of vocational alternatives from hair and beauty to bricklaying and may even offer apprenticeships so they can earn while they learn
  • Some university courses, especially sciences, require certain subjects at A-level. If your child is planning to go to university and already has a specific course or career in mind then you can help them to research this on university websites to ensure they make the right choices
  • If they are disappointed with their GCSE results then don't panic - many sixth forms will still admit students with lower grades and allow them to retake core subjects such as maths and English. Or they could explore vocational routes which often have lower entrance requirements
  • Look at school, college and other brochures and prospectuses or websites to find out what courses and qualifications are available locally. Your child should pay special attention to teaching and learning styles, assessment methods and course length.
  • Choosing to take a Diploma may offer your child the best of both worlds - a combination of classroom learning and practical hands-on experience, and the opportunity to develop functional skills in English, maths and ICT. A range of subjects are available, including Environmental and Land-based Studies, Creative and Media; and Business, Administration and Finance. Not all these subjects are available in every area. The Advanced Diploma is worth three and a half A levels
  • Your child should speak to their tutors/teachers/admission tutors about their options, which may include combining different qualifications and subjects. For example, if they choose to take the Advanced Diploma, they may be able to take an A level as part of their Diploma because Diplomas combine a number of qualifications
  • For advice on looking for jobs, including CV and interview preparation, and information about work experience and internships, higher and further education options, vocational training, and financial support available, visit www.gov.uk

After A-Levels

  • It is important for teens to consider their options carefully when applying to university. There are a huge array of courses and institutions, and it's easy to be overwhelmed or just go for one with the best nightlife. Help your child to compare factors they may overlook such as graduate employment rates and the actual content of the course - if they have a career in mind they need to make sure their degree is relevant and useful.
  • Some universities offer bursaries for children from low income families and scholarships for academic excellence? If you are worried about money then these are worth looking into.
  • Your child's school or college should have a careers advisor who can help with university applications and offer advice on which courses would be best for them, encourage them to use this - whether they have a clear plan or no idea at all.
  • Working part-time is an excellent way for your teen to earn some extra money and build up their CV. A Saturday job may seem menial but encourage them to see it as a way of gaining valuable transferable skills such as teamwork and customer service. However, make sure their paid employment does not compromise their studies.
  • Try not to force your own values and aspirations on your children. If they don't want to go to university then don't force them, there are plenty of other paths they can follow, talk about these instead.
  • Look at school, college and other brochures and prospectuses or websites to find out what courses and qualifications are available locally. Your child should pay special attention to teaching and learning styles, assessment methods and course length.
  • For advice on looking for jobs, including CV and interview preparation, and information about work experience and internships, higher and further education options, vocational training, and financial support available, visit www.gov.uk

How we can help you

If you would like support and advice, you can talk to one of our Family Support Workers by calling our confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222. You can also share experiences and advice with other parents on our Forums. Family Lives is here for you and you can contact us about any family issue, big or small.

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