Recent research from Talking Futures, that found that “more than 75% of parents felt that giving relevant career advice to their children was almost impossible in such a fast-changing jobs market”. At the Priory Federation of Academies Trust, careers education is a key priority, and is a central part of achieving excellence through the Priory values.
We know how important it is for our students to be able to have conversations about their careers with people at home. We therefore hope that this short guide, in the form of FAQs, helps you with having those conversations.
As always, careers teams in each academy can also support with any of these discussions, and are very happy to speak to parents and carers, as well as students.
What are the options available to students?
The short answer is there are lots of options available to students. The two main decisions your child will make will be what they do after Year 11, and again after Year 13. These are called their Post-16 options, and Post-18 options. Below is a guide to post-16 options. You can find more information about Post-18 Options using the link on the left-hand side.
There are now four main routes after Year 11; A Levels, BTECs, T Levels, and Apprenticeships. Each one is broken down below, to explain what they are, and why you might do them? Students can also consider employment routes, traineeships, and a range of other programmes, information about which is available from the Academy’s careers team, or your child’s careers advisor. Our Academy also has a prospectus which details the courses available for your students, via this link The Priory Federation of Academies Trust - Sixth Form Prospectus 2024-2025
What are they? A Levels are considered the traditional academic route after Year 11, and students usually pick a combination of three. A Levels are designed to demonstrate to universities and employers that you have a range of relevant skills. A Levels typically take two years. You are graded A*-F.
Why? A Levels are considered a very competitive qualification for getting into university, and the most competitive university courses may only accept A Level qualifications because of their academic focus. A Levels also give you the chance to study a wide range of subjects, meaning you can keep doors open if you are not certain about what you want to do in the future.
What are they? BTECs are a more vocational qualification, which at Level 3, are considered equivalent to studying for A Levels. BTECs are more likely to be coursework based, rather than exam based like A Levels. BTECs typically take two years. You are graded Distinction*-Pass. The expectation is that BTECs will eventually be replaced by T Levels, but that does not mean they are a lesser qualification, and this change is expected to take a few years still.
Why? BTECs are less focused on the academic side of a subject, and instead are hands-on, practical experiences to prepare you for the world of work. This can be a massive selling point for students who want more practical learning. You can combine some BTECs with A Levels, and BTECs are widely accepted by universities (all entry requirements for courses can be found on the UCAS website).
What are they? T Levels are a new technical qualification, designed in collaboration with employers, to deliver a qualification that is the equivalent of three A Levels, and provides the occupational and employability skills required to enter the world of work. With a T Level, 20% of your study time will be spent in a workplace, developing your skills for the world of work. They take two years. It is expected that T Levels will replace most BTEC courses in the future.
Why? A T Level has a specific occupational specialism, meaning you will be developing the working knowledge and skills to work in that profession in the future. The qualification will prepare you for working in that specific industry, and/or progressing onto a Higher Education course linked to your occupational specialism. As they are designed by employers, you can be certain that they will be competitive qualifications for entering employment in that chosen sector.
What are they? Apprenticeships mix study with on the job training. You typically spend 80% of your time with an employer/in the workplace. You can find lots more information, specifically for parents and carers about apprenticeships, on the Priory Apprenticeships website.
Why? For new apprentices, apprenticeships give you fantastic experience in the working world and show employers that you can ‘hit the ground running’. Hands-on training gives you a real chance to put your skills into practice and helps you to gain more confidence in a working environment. All apprentices are entitled to a wage whilst they are on programme. There are also absolutely no student loans with an apprenticeship.
Where to study?
Within the Priory Federation of Academies Trust, we have four Academies with Sixth Form provision; LSST; Lincoln; Witham; and Ruskin. Priory Lincoln and Priory Witham are our technical centres of excellence, delivering T Levels, BTECs and are the home of our apprenticeships offer, creating hubs of innovation and technical expertise. Priory LSST is our academic centre of excellence, delivering a wide portfolio of academic courses such as A Levels and single-BTECs. Priory Ruskin Academy offers both technical routes, such as T Levels and BTECs, and academic pathways, like A Levels. You can access information on each in the post-16 options section of the website. There are other options for your young person too, and each Academy’s careers team arranges opportunities for your child to speak to, and hear from, other training providers.
What subjects ‘should’ they study?
There is no single answer to this question. Students should think about what they want to do when they leave school, and work backwards. For many jobs, there isn’t a requirement to have studied certain subjects, but a good way of checking this is on the National Career Service website, the UCAS Website (links at the end of this guide), or speaking to a member of their academy’s careers team.
What if my child has no idea what career they want to do?
This is not something to worry about. Even as adults, we can struggle thinking about what career we want to do, or what job we would like to do next.
What is important is that your child knows what kinds of skills they need to go into the world of work and to manage their career, and they know which ones they could improve – this is something you can discuss with them. They should also be encouraged to speak to the Academy’s careers advisor.
What if my child changes their mind about the career they want to do?
This is very normal, and in fact we are living in a period of time in the world of work where people are retraining and completely changing careers all the time. We expect young people to change their minds about their aspirations. This is partly because they are curious about all of the amazing jobs out there, so it is a good thing!
The important thing is to reassure your child that it is fine to change their mind. It may also be beneficial to speak to a careers advisor, which can be arranged through your child’s academy, to explore some of these ideas further.
When should my child choose subjects linked to the career they want to do?
Your child’s first decisions with regards to their career typically come when they choose their GCSE Options. Fortunately, it is very rare that the options that they choose will impact the careers they can do in the future.
The decisions that students make in Year 11, and after Year 13, are the ones that are more likely you impact what careers are open to them. That is because this is when you may choose a specific pathway, linked to your interests, passions, and/or aspirations.
I don’t know what jobs exist/I’ve never heard of the job that my child wants to do
In short, you don’t need to! We are living at a time of massive changes to the world of work, and jobs that our students will go on to do, may not even exist yet.
Instead, focus on how important skills are going to be for your child, such as self-awareness, communication skills, confidence, and broader employability skills – all things that will also be developed as part of their career education programme in their academy.
What is the main thing I can do to help my child think about their career?
Here are a few things we recommend to help with your child’s career planning and career management:
- Help them to explore pathways – attend open events, ask questions about their aspirations and keep the conversation going. Don’t feel like you need to have the answers – that is where step four can come in!
- Let them lead with researching and exploring, but support and empower them to make positive decisions.
- Share your story – what career journey have you had? What did you like and dislike? What lessons did you learn? What skills were important?
- Encourage them to talk to careers professionals – each student has access to careers teams within their academies, who can support them through difficult decisions or with difficult questions, or simply to help them explore what options are available to them.
Where can I get more information?
Students, you can speak to your tutor, any member of staff, and any member of the careers team, to receive more information and support about choosing your options, or more generally about careers.
Use the Useful Links section of the website to see a range of helpful websites, organised into specific areas, to get more information.
The Academy welcomes and actively invites parent and carer input and feedback on our careers programme. This can be provided by contacting the Academy’s careers lead, or emailing email@example.com. Similarly, if you have any career-related questions, you can speak to the Academy careers lead, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Success at Schools have just announced the launch of their brand new 2022/23 parents guides to university and apprenticeships (and a bonus STEM careers guide) which will be released digitally on the week commencing 12th September.
We wanted to share this information with parents so that you can sign up to receive these brand new guides directly to your inbox. The guides are packed full of useful information to help support your children with their career choices.
For more details and to sign up, click here: