The COVID-19 pandemic has led to education being a combination of remote learning and face-to-face contact in schools. Despite these uncertain times, there is still a vast amount young people can do to prepare for the next steps with your help.
There is no question that the process of making decisions about the future is particularly challenging at present. Though nobody is under any illusion that the labour market is going to be under pressure following the pandemic, there are many grounds for hope and optimism. The crisis will pass and the most powerful way of preparing for the future is through education.
If your child is in secondary school, advice and guidance will certainly still be provided. All schools are required to have a careers education and guidance programme and will be able to point to a whole host of online resources which provide information and insights into all kinds of careers. Nevertheless, there is nothing employers, college and university admissions tutors like more than young people who have shown the initiative to find out what they have to offer and ask questions.
Here are some tips and ideas for parents
a. Going into the sixth form in their current school or at a college. Most school sixth forms offer A Levels in most subjects and some BTEC options which are more vocationally oriented. Access to these courses will depend on GCSE grades so it is important to understand entry requirements and ensure those course choices are realistic.
b. Applying for vocational courses in a further education college. These courses are operated at different levels depending on GCSE grades achieved at schools. It is not too early to pick up a prospectus and go along to open days or check the college website for virtual tours.
c. Applying for an apprenticeship. At the age of 16, these will tend to be at level 2 which is equivalent to GCSE standard. Often successful apprentices at this level progress into high training after completion but there are plenty of routes into apprenticeships including ones at degree level at the age of 18 so that route does not need to be chosen at 16.
a. Do they want to continue with academic study or would they prefer more practically oriented courses?
b. Would the school environment be more or less suitable than a college environment?
c. If the school has a sixth form, will it be better to stay in a familiar setting where the teachers and students already know each other or would a change of setting such as a college be advisable? Where is the desired choice of subjects available and what do past results look like? It will be important to research any change carefully, visit any other institutions and take the advice of teachers and professional careers advisers.
As young people approach decisions at 16 it is really important to explore what is available. Careermag for School Leavers and the excellent Careermap.co.uk website are a great starting point.
My final piece of advice is to encourage your child to ‘think outside the box’. There is ample research showing that many young people tend to make choices based on their own limited experience or understanding of the range of opportunities available. Exploring a route to the next steps in their lives is an exciting process for you and your children to explore together.