We understand that making decisions about future careers including education, training and work is a complex and challenging area. It is increasingly important that students, teachers and parents/carers are provided with high quality careers advice and guidance concerning future study options and labour market opportunities.
Check out our Careers & Post 16 Pathways website for all sorts of useful information from college open days to work experience, apprenticeships and other courses.
Careers Corner Newsletters:
At RMS, we aim to deliver a broad careers programme which encompasses all year groups so that students have the knowledge, understanding and skills that best allow them to make the transition from school to work.
Activities in this programme include
- A Careers Fair held at RMS in September which is open to all year 9, 10 and 11 students
- A week of work experience for all year 10 students
- Careers enrichment days
- Interactions and activities from enterprises and businesses
- Assemblies and presentations from external enterprises and colleges
- Trips out of school
- A one to one session with a qualified Careers Adviser during the final year
In addition to this, there are numerous local Open Days and talks from further and higher education providers which we encourage students to visit. We also have a Careers section in our library with a huge amount of information about careers choices.
Year 9 GCSE Option Choices
Students will be able to choose a selection of subjects that they want to study during year 10 and 11. They will still study core subjects like maths, English and science, which will help them to keep their future options open. Although it can be helpful to study subjects that might link to future careers ideas, it is really not a problem if students don’t know yet what they want to do or if they change their mind later on.
It is always best to choose subjects they enjoy and want to study. They are more likely to be engaged with these subjects and the results will be better.
However, there are a few general points worth considering when making the choices:
- Creative subjects (e.g. drama, music or art) develop a wide range of skills that can be transferred to other areas (e.g. analysing or reflecting), so they can be an excellent option even if a student isn’t necessarily planning a creative career. They can be great “balancing” subjects to more traditional academic courses and if they have been studied at GCSE level it is much easier to continue with a related subject at college. Sometimes experiences outside school or a portfolio are considered instead of a related GCSE for entry to a related college course.
- Languages are increasingly important and a very good subject to consider, provided students have an interest in the language and the ability to do well. Some employers and universities like to see a GCSE in a language and it is often required to study it at a higher level in college. However, there are many ways to pick a language up again later on in life (e.g. college, evening classes, university, online courses etc.) if there is no interest now. No language is better than a bad grade and a student that has been put off studying languages for the rest of their life.
- Sciences are very important and reasonable pass grades at GCSE are expected for many future options, even if they are not obviously science based. Both double and triple science will keep choices open (including for medicine and similar options), so consider which is more likely to lead to good grades.
- Research the options in detail! Take time to make the right choices and select subjects that suit the individual student, not a general idea of what “will look good on a future application”. A very wide range of careers, employers and universities do not require specific subjects, particularly at GCSE, and general good results and a happy student are always the best outcome.
Young people need to stay in some form of education or training until they are 18. However, this does not mean just staying in school or college. The main options available at 16 are:
Academic / 6th Form Colleges
These colleges offer a range of different subjects and qualifications, including A levels and other level 3 qualifications, which can lead on to university, apprenticeships or work. Students can mix and match 3-4 subjects and use this to prepare for a specific career or to keep their options open. To study at level 3 (A-level equivalent) student will usually need to gain at least 5 GCSES at grade 4 or above, but many subjects require higher grades. Qualifications like A-levels and BTECs can often be mixed and are both well accepted by employers and universities. Many colleges also offer lower level course (e.g. GCSEs) to allow students with lower GCSEs to retake English and Maths if needed and to improve their qualifications.
Vocational / Career Focused College
These colleges offer work related qualifications in many areas. Students will choose only one large course, which prepares them for an industry or a specific job. It is a good option for students who like practical, work related learning and have a good idea of what they want to do in the future. Courses will include theory and academic work, as well as more hands-on learning and often work experience. Many of these courses can lead to university and they are an excellent stepping stone or backup to apprenticeships. Level 3 courses (A-level equivalent) will require at least 5 GCSES at grade 4 or above, level 2 courses typically require at least grade 3s.
Apprenticeships are a combination of work and training, allowing students to gain recognised qualifications, in some cases up to degree and masters degree level. It can be a great way to start a career for those keen to start work and those who are sure in what sector they want to start their career. On average 4 days/week are spent in the workplace and 1 day in training (e.g. at a local college or university). Apprentices are paid a minimum of £3.90 per hour (from April 2019), including for the time they spend on training. Apprenticeships can be started at 16 or later on, are available in almost any industry and can be a great alternative to college or university. For example, besides the better known options like plumber, hairdresser and car mechanic, you can also train to be a software engineer, a nurse, a solicitor, an accountant or an economist by completing an apprenticeship (although for some of these you would need to be 18). Vacancies can be found by contacting employers directly, speaking to training providers (like vocational colleges and universities) and looking for advertised vacancies.
If a young person is not quite ready for an apprenticeship, a traineeship could be a stepping stone. This is a course that combines work experience with improving general skills including maths and English, with the aim to help young people into work or an apprenticeship at the end of it. It lasts up to 6 months and is unpaid, although help with expenses for travel and meals may be available.
Of course not an option straight after year 11, it is still something many young people start to consider at this point. University can be a great option and the UK has over 300 universities and other higher education institutions, so there are literally thousands of courses to choose from. Entry requirements vary widely and the majority do not require specific subjects, although it is worth checking if a student already has specific plans.
For maximum flexibility it is worth considering studying at least one traditional academic subject at college (if a mix of subjects is studied) and a wider range of courses can of course keep more choices open. However, a very large number of courses do not require specific courses and in most cases good grades will be much more important than a specific subject. Many degrees happily accept vocational courses and it is worth considering that a student who prefers this way of studying will most likely prefer a university course using a similar style.
www.ucas.com The official university application service, lots of great guides and a useful degree course search to get an idea of what is available and what the requirements might be.
www.moneysavingexpert.com/students/student-loans-tuition-fees-changes/ If you are concerned about the cost of university or think you cannot afford it, read this!
www.russellgroup.ac.uk/for-students/school-and-college-in-the-uk/subject-choices-at-school-and-college/ Good guide on considering post 16 subject choices, particularly if you are planning to apply for very competitive universities in the future
Some young people will choose to join the armed forces after completing secondary school. As this includes recognised training, often in the form of an apprenticeship, this is a perfectly good option if it suits the individual. Another option is to work or volunteer for a minimum of 20 hours per week AND be in part time education or training (minimum requirement works out as studying about 1 day per week).
If you have any questions or you require more careers related information, please contact Aidan Peake (Post 16 Pathways Leader):