What next after GCSEs?

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If your child is one of the many 15 to 16 year olds who have just received their GCSE results, it is likely that they will be going into some form of further education or training. So what are the qualifications and learning routes available?

Nearly 80% of young people stay in learning after Year 11 and this is likely to rise because young people are worried about 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.
To explain the new choices and give some post-GCSE results tips and advice, Maggie Cowan, careers and personal advisor from Connexions - an advice and information service for young people - says:

“If your child has just received their GCSE results, it is important to remember that, whatever their results, they are guaranteed a suitable offer of learning, whether that’s at school, college, in training, or they may choose an Apprenticeship.  Whether or not they stay in full-time education, it is important that they continue to learn and gain qualifications. Having qualifications will not guarantee a job, but it will give them a much better chance of finding one that has good prospects.

“Education and training has changed a lot so before your child decides what to do next, make sure they know what qualifications are available.”

Below is a list of the some post GCSE options:

  • The Diploma, a new qualification which offers 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. From September ten subjects will be 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.
  • A levels are a well trusted option, but have been updated They suit students who prefer to learn in in a more traditional way.
  • Apprenticeships for employees who learn on the job, and spend some time at college. The  number and range available has increased, particularly in the public sector.
  • The Extended Project allows students to focus on an area they are really interested in. It is available as a stand-alone qualification (worth half an A level) or as part of the Advanced Diploma.
  • There is also a wide range of vocational qualifications.

Maggie continues: “There are lots of places where young people can get up-to-date information and advice of the qualifications and learning routes available to them so they don’t need to decide their next steps on their own.”

Here is a list of ‘top tips’ and advice to help point your child in the right direction:

  • Find out about the different qualifications available to your child and details of what they involve.  Encourage your child to think about how they like to learn, what makes them happy and what they want from life.  They should also consider what qualifications are more likely to lead to employment in your area.
  • Look at the online 14 to 19 Area Prospectus yp. direct.gov.uk/14-19prospectus and school, college and other brochures and prospectuses or look at their 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.
  • Visit the Connexions Resource Centre/careers library where your child can look up the courses that interest them or visit the connexions website www. connexions-direct.com.
  • If your child didn’t get good grades in GCSE English and maths, they should think about retaking these as they are important for so many jobs and other courses.
  • 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. direct.gov.uk/whatsnext
  • Find out more about the new Diploma qualification, which combines classroom learning with practical hands on experience, and functional skills in maths, English and ICT by visiting:  www. direct.gov.uk/diplomas.
  • 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.
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