As a parent, it’s important to offer guidance and support when your child is making decisions for their future. Set aside time to work out their strengths and weaknesses as this will make it easier to identify suitable avenues. It’s essential you and your child both know what every option entails so you can weigh up the pros and cons of each. With this in mind, below is a brief description of what your child can do after GCSE results day.
Lots of children choose to stay in education and study for their A-levels. While there are numerous other options, this is one of the best routes for academically-minded children and those with hopes of going to university. A-levels will allow your child to study subjects they are interested in in-depth, which will in turn broaden their knowledge and improve their learning skills. Even if your child is unsure of whether they want to go to university, A-levels will enhance their learning abilities and will make them more attractive to employers.
Typically, your child will pick four subjects of their choice which they will study in depth. During the two years they will have the opportunity to carry out additional work such as an extended project. If your child is considering this option it’s important they know that they will have to study intensively and independently; they will also be expected to do coursework and sit exams throughout and at the end of the two years. If your child is certain they want to study for their A-levels, you could suggest they read some material related to their chosen subjects before they start.
Your child may be looking to volunteer overseas, in which case they should learn as much as they can about the role they will be undertaking, as well as the country and its culture. Some will want to spend their gap year as an English teacher and earn a TEFL certification. Like with University, budgeting is also crucial when travelling, and your child should work out what they can afford. A round-the-world trip can cost anything up to £5,000. They are likely to be thinking extensively about their itinerary for when they get to their destinations, but it’s equally as important to think carefully about what they need to do before they leave. For example, making a checklist of things they need (a suitable back pack, appropriate clothes etc.), taking out the correct insurance, dealing with visas well in advance and remembering to get any vaccinations needed.
If your child doesn’t want to study full-time and is eager to get out into the working world, a work-based qualification may be the best option for them. The most popular type of work-based learning is an apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships will allow your child to gain practical skills relevant to their career choice all while earning money at the same time. There are just under 200 different courses your child can choose from and most apprenticeships will work towards either an NVQ, BTEC, or City & Guilds qualification. Generally, your child will be in a work environment four days a week and will attend college one day a week. The type of work, the skills they will learn and the time it will take them to complete the course will depend on the chosen industry. If your child is considering this option, you should make them aware that it can be very intensive and they will be expected to be committed to their job and work long hours.
Diplomas are a combination of studying and practical experience and can be taken when your child is either 14 or 16. Your child will choose a particular subject – such as engineering – but will also be required to study core subjects such as Maths, IT and English. Diplomas will involve practical lessons combined with work experience and project work. Lessons will be work-relevant to their chosen subject, meaning they will learn skills that can be applied to the working environment. There are three levels of diploma: foundation (level 1), higher (level 2) and advanced (level 3), and the intensity of the course will depend on the level your child is studying at.
Work & Work Experience
If your child doesn’t want to continue studying at all then a full-time job is a rewarding alternative. Many jobs require further qualifications; nevertheless there are still many employment opportunities for children wanting to work straight after their GCSEs. It’s important your child knows that if they are considering going straight into work, they should be prepared to start at the bottom and slowly work their way up. Going straight into employment is a good way for your child to get on the career ladder early and start gaining some valuable work experience.
Alternatively, if your child has a few career options but doesn’t know which one to go for, they could arrange some work experience in several different industries to help them decide their future path. Carrying out work experience or a placement is also a great way for your child to develop their skills and it will look good on their CV when they come to applying for full-time work.
Holiday & Travelling
Lots of students embark on a gap year after they have completed their A-levels, but you may find your child too young to fly the nest at the ripe age of 16. Despite this, most children will want a well-earned break after their exams and they’ll probably want to go on holiday with their friends to celebrate finishing school. Though it’s a fun idea to let them do this, they are only 16, so it could be a good idea to suggest local places they can visit for their holiday.
If your child has serious itchy-feet you could suggest they stay with a relative in a different country or city while gaining some work experience over there. This way, they will be gaining both work and travel experience – it may even help them to decide their future plans, and realise that independence also means responsibilities.
Whichever route your child decides, it’s important to let them know it’s not the be all and end all of everything. If your child chooses to study at college, that’s not to say they can’t have a part-time job and gain some work experience in between. Similarly, if they take a year out to work but realise they want to continue studying, they can apply for college the following year.
Will your child be picking up their results this Thursday? Where are they hoping their grades will take them? Let us know in the comments box below.
For further reading we recommend the following resources to support your teenager.