Page 1

Also on the internet

2008-2009 Information on work and learning options for Year 10 and 11 students

It’s your choice The choices Qualifications What to study and where Work and learning Applications and interviews Getting help and support… and lots more…



welcome to IT’S YOUR CHOICE This booklet has been written especially for you because you are nearing the end of Year 11 and it is time for you to make some choices. After eleven years in compulsory education, you are now in the exciting, but maybe scary, position of beginning to think about what you want to do after Year 11. This booklet will help you to think about the best ways for you to gain the career and the life that you want. It’s your choice puts YOU at the centre of the decision-making process and provides a step-by-step approach. It leads you through the process of considering all your options and then making an informed choice about what you want and what best suits you as an individual. Everyone in Year 11 is going to be choosing their own route, and there is plenty of information and advice available to help you to make the right choices for you. You can also do your own research by visiting your school’s Connexions Resource Centre or through using the interactive version of It’s your choice at: W There is a publication called Parents & Carers: Guide to options 14-19, which is available to help parents and carers understand the choices ahead and how they can best help you. If your parents or carers have not received a copy, ask your school or order a free copy from: DCSF Publications, PO Box 5050, Sherwood, Nottingham NG15 0DJ. T 0845 602 2260 Check out the interactive version online at: W

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Christ’s School for permission to take photographs. We would also like to thank all those young people who agreed to be case studies for It’s your choice. For reasons of confidentiality some names may have been changed. The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) is not responsible for the content or reliability of the websites listed in the publication and does not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them. Listings shall not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. We cannot guarantee that these sites will work all of the time and we have no control over availability or content of the sites listed. Telephone numbers are provided throughout the booklet. Calls to Connexions Direct from a landline are free, but mobile networks may charge. Calls to other organisations from landlines may be charged and are at a higher rate from a mobile phone.


contents Section 1 Getting started

Section 3 Thinking ahead

What are my choices?


Experience needed


Personal calendar


Work in a changing world


Higher education


Applications and interviews 20 Section 2 Researching your ideas Qualifications


What to study and where


Section 4 Getting help and support

Work and learning


Money matters


People, places and websites 27 Action plan



what are re my choices?

Section 1 Getting started

Your choices fall into two main groups. You can continue in education or move into training and work.

Naimul Naimul is in Year 11 and has no set career ideas at present. He has an interest in sport and is intending to continue in full-time education after Year 11 and move on to the sixth form. He has applied to study a BTEC First Diploma in Sport alongside a Progression Award. He chose the BTEC First Diploma in Sport because it would enable him to learn more about working within the sport industry and to gain a qualification that is equivalent to five GCSEs. The Progression Award is a broad Level 2 course which develops life skills, personal skills and vocational skills, and will be useful for any career Naimul wishes to enter. ‘I want to get more qualifications so that I can get a better job. These courses will also help me to learn more about different job areas and to decide what I want to do after sixth form.’ Work experience is a part of both the courses that Naimul plans to study and this will further help to develop his skills. He will be able to try out different jobs and increase his personal skills and confidence. Naimul is looking forward to the sixth form and to continuing his studies there.

Choices in education These may include: School sixth form Sixth form college Further education college Specialist college

Choices in training and work These may include: An Apprenticeship A job with training A job A training programme that prepares you for work Self-employment

Before you can choose one of these options, you need to think about how you learn and work best, what makes you happy and what you want from life. Being clear about these things will help you to choose an option that will suit, interest and motivate you.


Action point 1

Do this quiz to help you think about which options might suit, interest and motivate you. Tick the statements that fit you best. After Year 11, I want to: A Continue studying to gain more qualifications B Go to work and gain qualifications as I earn C Continue to study, but I am not sure which qualifications to do A Take a full-time course at a school or college B Work while studying part time C Think about what I would like to do in the future – maybe get a job A Study subjects that I enjoy and am good at B Gain a qualification linked to the work that I want to do C Get some advice about the types of courses and qualifications that would suit me best A Gain the qualifications I need and earn more money in the longer term B Go to work and start earning some money C Find out about getting some financial support to help me study or train A Study for higher level qualifications as a step towards gaining the job I want B Start work as soon as possible C Get some help to make the right decisions for me How did you score? Add up your totals of As, Bs and Cs and check the results opposite.

Mostly As You appear to be most interested in staying in full-time education. If so, you have many choices and will need to research them thoroughly before you make a decision. Start by reading the sections on Qualifications (pages 5-9), What to study and where (pages 10-12) and Money matters (pages 24-26). Mostly Bs It seems that you are most interested in moving from full-time education into training or work. You will need to research the many choices open to you before you make a decision. A good place to start is with the sections on Qualifications (pages 5-9), Experience needed (page 17), Work and learning (pages 13-16) and Applications and interviews (pages 20-23).


Mostly Cs It sounds as though you are not sure which way to go at the moment. A good place to start is by reading Qualifications (pages 5-9) as qualifications lead to better employment prospects and higher pay. Talk to your Connexions personal adviser, tutor, teachers, family and friends to get some help and advice. See the Getting help and support section (pages 24-29) for more ideas.

Hot tipour future

y is vital to ult life. Learning rk and ad o w in s s tee you s u cc e er Guaran b m te p e S 6 Under the r of post-1 to an offe d e tl et ti e n m e t are mus this offer d n a , g te in n uara ed learn are also g u o Y . s d e your ne vice and ation, ad yo u r the inform you with lp e h to guidance ost of it. ake the m M . s e ic o ch

Action point 2

Take the first step in decision-making. Use the space below to think about your initial thoughts and ideas.

Section 1 Getting started


Chris Chris is in Year 11 and really enjoys the Level 1 Certificate in Motor Vehicle Studies that he is studying alongside his GCSE subjects. He prefers to learn in a practical way and has taken this into consideration when choosing his post-16 options. ‘I learn through practical tasks and want to continue training in this way to pursue my chosen career area, which is to be a mechanic or engineer.’

The option that interests me most at the moment is:

Before making any decisions, Chris made sure he looked at all his training options so he could chose something that suited the way he works and learns the best.

This interests me because:

‘I went to the college and sixth form open days to get information about motor vehicle courses on offer there, but I also looked into Apprenticeships. I liked the idea of an Apprenticeship as it is very hands on and I get to learn in the workplace and gain qualifications at the same time.’

I want to find out more about:

I can get the answers I need from:

Chris has applied for an Apprenticeship with Rolls Royce and is currently going through the application process. However, he also has a second option to ensure he can continue with learning in a practical way. ‘I’ve applied to my local college and had an interview to do a motor vehicle course. If I don’t manage to get the Rolls Royce Apprenticeship, my back-up plan is to go to college.’

Use the jobs4u careers database at W to research your career ideas.


Section 1 Getting started

PERSONAL cALENDAR Use this calendar to help you plan what to do as you make your post-16 choices.


Action point 3

Autumn Term 2008 Read this booklet so that you know what you have to do to make choices that work for you. Use the activities in this booklet to help you make choices that suit you. Use the resources in the Connexions Resource Centre to help you research all your post-16 options. Use the online 14-19 Area Prospectus (see page 9) to help you research local opportunities. Think about the careers that interest you and find out as much about them as you can. Work out the advantages and disadvantages for you of staying in full-time education and entering training and work. If you don’t have a firm career idea, think about how you can keep your future options open. Begin collecting information about places and courses that interest you, including course guides and prospectuses. Find out if there is a common application process for post-16 courses in your area. Get a list of school/college open days and attend the ones that interest you. Request information about Apprenticeships, including how to apply. Check application deadlines for the options that interest you – there may be some this term. Talk to your Connexions personal adviser about your plans and next steps. Discuss your ideas, feelings and plans with your family, friends and teachers. Update or create a portfolio of evidence to help with applications and interviews. Spring Term 2009 Prioritise your choices. Apply for your chosen post-16 option, making sure that you have a back-up plan. Be prepared to rethink your plans if your predicted grades change because of mock exams and other assessments – they could go up as well as down. Create a revision plan that works for you and be prepared to stick to it. Prepare for interviews. Check that you have completed coursework and other assignments. Find out if you are eligible for an Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and apply for one if you are. If you are still not sure what to do, speak to your Connexions personal adviser – remember you have a guarantee of an appropriate place in learning. Summer Term 2009 If you still have no plans, make an appointment to speak to your Connexions personal adviser. Speak to your Connexions personal adviser if you are looking for work with training. If you are not quite ready for work and you don’t want to stay in education, ask your Connexions personal adviser about work preparation training programmes. Check that you have received and confirmed the offer of a place in education or training. You can still apply if you haven’t done so yet. Think about getting a job or work experience/voluntary work for the summer holidays. GCSE results are out on 27 August 2009 (online on 26 August). If your results are better or worse than you expected, visit your local Connexions centre as soon as possible. The school leaving date is the last Friday in June.


Section 2 Researching your ideas

qualifications Qualifications are your passport to more opportunities in learning and work. Before you decide what to do next, make sure you know what qualifications you will gain and how they will help you in the future. Whether or not you stay in full-time education, it is important that you continue to learn and gain qualifications. Having qualifications will not guarantee you a job, but it will give you a much better chance of finding one that pays well and has good prospects. Changes in the job market mean that people with few or no qualifications are finding it increasingly difficult to get a job and this isn’t suddenly going to change. That’s why nearly nine out of ten young people are now continuing in some form of education or training when they leave school. These are the people that you will have to compete with in the Level 2 job market; don’t be the one who is left out.

Understanding qualification levels All qualifications fit into a national framework. The framework has nine levels that people often use as shorthand to describe the qualifications needed for a particular job or course.

Qualifications at Levels 4 to 8 Level 3 qualifications


Level 1 qualifications Entry Level qualifications

E All Entry Level qualifications are called Entry Level Certificates. They develop basic knowledge, skills and understanding in a particular subject or area. They build confidence and help people to prepare for further learning, work and independent living.

L1 These qualifications include National Vocational Qualifications at Level 1, GCSEs achieved at grades D-G, the Foundation Diploma, BTEC Introductory Certificates and Diplomas, and City & Guilds Foundation Awards. They improve basic knowledge, understanding and skills in a subject, a specific work area or a broad economic sector. They also help people to use their learning in everyday situations and tasks. They also help them to prepare for other Level 1 qualifications and for qualifications at Levels 2 and 3.

L2 These qualifications include National Vocational Qualifications at Level 2, GCSEs achieved at grades A*C, the Higher Diploma, the BTEC First Diploma and City & Guilds Intermediate Awards. They build knowledge, understanding and skills in a subject, a specific work area or a broad economic sector. They enable people to use their learning in a wide range of tasks and also help them to prepare for other Level 2 qualifications and for qualifications at Level 3. Most employers use this level as their minimum entry requirement.

L3 These qualifications include National Vocational Qualifications at Level 3, AS and A Levels, the Advanced and Progression Diplomas, the International Baccalaureate, the BTEC National Award and City & Guilds Advanced Awards. They develop detailed knowledge, understanding and skills in a subject, a specific work area or a broad economic sector. They help people to use their learning in a wide range of tasks and situations. They also help them to prepare for other Level 3 qualifications and for qualifications at Level 4. Universities require most applicants to be qualified to this level. Employers will increasingly look for applicants who are qualified to at least this level.


L5 L7

L6 L8

These qualifications include National Vocational Qualifications at Levels 4 and 5, Foundation degrees and honours degrees, Higher National Certificates and Diplomas, specialist professional qualifications and postgraduate qualifications. They involve in-depth learning about a specific occupational role or area of study. They help people to become specialists in their area of learning or work.


Section 2 Researching your ideas

Understanding qualifications and courses

Advanced Extension Award (AEA)

Different qualifications and courses suit different people. This overview describes the qualifications that you may be able to do.


Entry Level Entry Level Certificates and courses prepare you for further learning, work and independent living. They build your confidence, introduce you to new experiences and help you to practise and improve the personal and practical skills you need at work and in adult life.

GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education)

After Year 11, you may have the chance to retake important GCSEs. Many courses and employers need GCSEs in mathematics and English at grades C or above, so you might want to retake if your grades are lower. You may also be able to take new GCSEs alongside, or as part of, other qualifications.

A Level

If you are doing well in an A Level course and are predicted to get an A grade, you may have the chance to do an AEA. Gaining an AEA demonstrates the breadth and depth of your knowledge and your ability to apply it more widely and critically. It also helps higher education institutes to distinguish between you and other able candidates.

Extended Project Qualification

L1 L2



This qualification is designed to help you develop the wider skills that higher education courses demand. It forms part of the Advanced Diploma and is also available to students taking A Level courses. To gain this qualification you must: choose a project and agree it with a teacher – you can choose a topic that allows you to explore an aspect of your studies in greater depth or one that is of personal interest undertake the project and demonstrate that you can plan, deliver and present an extended piece of work at Level 3.


The official name for an A Level is a General Certificate of Education (GCE). A Levels are subject-based qualifications that help you to prepare for higher education and employment. Most schools and colleges require you to have four or five GCSEs at grade C or above before they will allow you to start an A Level course.

International Baccalaureate (IB)


The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma is a qualification that prepares 16-19 year olds for higher education. The IB takes two years and is accepted as an entry qualification by universities around the world. It is broadly equivalent to four A Levels. To gain this qualification you must:

A Level courses generally take two years to complete. You can study three or four subjects in your first year and then decide which subjects you want to continue studying in your second year. There are around 80 subjects to choose from, including some with a work-related focus. These are called Applied A Levels and are available in single and double awards – the latter is equivalent to two A Levels.

study six subjects from the subject groups of language, second language, individuals and societies, mathematics and computer science, the arts, and experimental sciences

A Levels are split into units and each unit is assessed separately through a mix of internal assessment and examinations.

participate in creativity, action and service projects.

AS (advanced subsidiary) units – You study these in the first year of your A Level course. Most subjects have two AS units although some, like science and music, have three. If you pass the AS units in a subject, you will gain an AS qualification in that subject. This is called an AS Level. A2 units – You study these in the second year of your course. Most A Levels have two A2 units but some subjects, such as science and music, have three.

complete an extended essay, having researched and investigated a topic of special interest follow a theory of knowledge course

Hot tip

Find out as much in formation as possible to make su re that you come to the right decision. If you don’t have a career in mind, choose options that will gi ve you plenty of choice in the future . If you do have a career in mind, re search your career and choose your options accordingly. Remem ber, no qualification is ever wasted.

Section 2 Researching your ideas

The Diploma

L1 L2 L3

This is a new qualification based around a different style of teaching and learning. There are ten Diplomas available now with more coming soon. The Diploma combines classroom learning with practical hands-on experience, including the chance to spend at least ten days working with an employer. It has compulsory and optional elements. The compulsory elements include functional skills and cover the main things that you need to know about your chosen subject area (known as a ‘line of learning’) and the skills that employers, universities and colleges look for. The optional elements can be specialist courses that give you a deeper understanding of your chosen subject area or something completely different that will broaden your studies. Assessment includes written examinations and internal assessment. All Diploma students complete a project to demonstrate the knowledge and skills that they have gained. The Diploma is available at three levels: a Foundation Diploma – this is a Level 1 qualification that is the equivalent of five GCSEs a Higher Diploma – this is a Level 2 qualification that is the equivalent of seven GCSEs an Advanced Diploma – this is a Level 3 qualification that is the equivalent of three and a half A Levels. This level also has a Progression Diploma, which is the equivalent of two A Levels. The Diploma is designed to help you make decisions about your future while keeping all your options open, and you can use it as a stepping stone to higher education, training and employment. As it is a new qualification, it is not yet available everywhere. Look at your online 14-19 Area Prospectus (see page 9) or speak to your careers co-ordinator or your Connexions personal adviser to find out which Diplomas are available in your area.

National Vocational Qualification (NVQ)


L1 L2 L3

NVQs are occupational qualifications that develop the practical skills and knowledge needed in a specific job in a specific industry. They can help you to prepare for work and for higher level learning and training. There are over 900 NVQs to choose from. Young people aged 16 to 19 usually work towards NVQs at Levels 1 to 3. NVQs are split into units and each unit is assessed. Assessment is through the observation of practical work and the creation of a portfolio of evidence.

Vocationally-Related Qualification (VRQ)

L1 L2 L3

VRQs are offered by awarding bodies such as City & Guilds and BTEC Edexcel. They involve learning in a practical way and can help you to prepare for employment and further learning, including higher education. Level 3 courses usually take two years to complete and have more internal assessment than A Levels.

Hot tip You can find ou t more about Diplomas at W w w /diplomas


Section 2 Researching your ideas

Essential skills for learning, work and adult life Some skills, like enterprise skills, are so important that they are part of most learning programmes and many qualifications.

Venetia Venetia is in Year 12 and is studying A Levels in art and design and photography, and a digital imaging diploma course. She has chosen to focus on a career in the art world and would either like to be a professional artist or photographer. ‘I’m planning to do a Diploma in Foundation Studies in Art and Design after Year 13 and I’ve looked at what students on this course have gone on to do afterwards. It is a competitive area to find paid work in and I might have to do freelance work. I’ll have to make myself stand out from the crowd.’ In addition to the coursework she does for her current subjects, Venetia is working on her own personal textiles project so she will have a greater depth and range of evidence in her portfolio. Venetia hasn’t decided whether she wants to carry on studying after her Foundation Studies course, but she is thinking about attending a UCAS event called ‘Design your Future’. Here she will be able to get advice from people on studying art at a higher education level. ‘My advice to anyone considering a job in a competitive career area is to work extremely hard. Check what you need to do to make you a bit different and if necessary do extra work for your portfolio.’

Personal, learning and thinking skills – These help you to become an independent enquirer, creative thinker, reflective learner, team worker, self manager and effective participator. They are part of all Diplomas. Key skills – These include communication, application of number, information and communication technology (ICT), working with others, problem solving and improving own learning and performance. In some courses, especially work-related ones, you may work towards key skill qualifications in communication, application of number and ICT. Assessment of these is through portfolio building, tests and examinations. You may also create portfolios with evidence of your achievements in the other key skills. Functional skills – Everyone needs good practical skills in English, mathematics and information and communication technology (ICT). Functional skills are part of all Diplomas and will soon be part of related GCSEs. From 2010, they will be available as separate qualifications.

Hot tip Check out your esse ntial skills. Ask a friend, or so meone else who knows you well, to help you assess your skills. Take ac tion if you need to improve them. It is especially important to gain good English, mathematics and IC T skills as you need them in all ar eas of work and adult life.

Section 2 Researching your ideas

Hot tip Look at your onlin e 14-19 Area Prospectus and sc hool, college and other brochures an d prospectuses to find out what co urses and qualifications are available locally.


Action point 4

Tick the qualifications that you think will help you to step up to a higher level of learning and also suit the way you work and learn best. Entry Level Certificates

The Diploma


National Vocational Qualifications

A Levels

Vocationally-Related Qualifications

International Baccalaureate

Find out the name and website address of your online 14-19 Area Prospectus. Ask your careers co-ordinator or Connexions personal adviser about how to access your online 14-19 Area Prospectus. Look to see where you can do the qualifications you have listed, what subjects you can take and how they might help you in the future. Name and website address of your online 14-19 Area Prospectus

Places offering the qualifications that interest me

The subjects I can do

How these subjects might help in the future

You can also find your online 14-19 Area Prospectus by going to W



Section 2 Researching your ideas

what TO ST STUDY and where

If you want to get the most from education, you need to choose the right courses and qualifications. Work out your priorities

Consider the options

If you have thought about what is important to you and where you are prepared to compromise, you will find it easier to decide what to study and where.

Think about the advantages and disadvantages for you of the options you have. These may include:


Action point 5

Tick the things that are important to you. Being with my friends Knowing the teachers and other students before I start my course Studying at a place with a good reputation for teaching and examination results A friendly atmosphere Not having far to travel Good social facilities

a school sixth form where you will probably know everyone (unless you join a sixth form in a different school) a sixth form college where you will meet students from other schools in the area a further education college with students of all ages, including adults a specialist college offering courses in specialist subject areas such as horticulture, creative arts, music and agriculture, as well as courses for students with specific, additional needs or disabilities. Specialist colleges are often some distance from home and you could have to do a lot of travelling. You might even have to live in or near the college during the week in term time. For information on financial support for residential courses visit W See also W

Good sports facilities Good student support Being able to continue studying subjects that I like Being able to study new subjects Studying in one place Studying part of the time in the workplace Look at the things you have ticked. Is there anything that you want to add? Once your list is complete, spend a couple of minutes thinking about which of the items, if any, you would compromise on. For example, would you be happy to travel further to do a course that really suits you?

Hot tip Having a disabilit y should not stop you from learning . If you think you may need ex tra he lp with your post16 learning, mentio n it at open days and in applications and interviews. For more informat ion, see

W w w disabledpeople an d W w w

Do your research Schools and colleges offer a wide range of courses and learning programmes, many with similar names. Research is vital because it is often the only way that you can find out how the courses differ.


Section 2 Researching your ideas


Action point 6

Use these research tips to help you get the information you need. Research tips Read the rest of It’s your choice to get an overview of what you can do. Use your online 14-19 Area Prospectus to find out about local courses. Read school and college prospectuses or look at their websites to find out what different courses involve and where they lead. Pay special attention to teaching and learning styles, assessment methods, course length and any extras that you might have to pay for, such as special equipment and trips. Talk to current students to find out what they think of their courses – remember to check out school and college message boards and student pages. Visit the Connexions Resource Centre/careers library and look up the courses that interest you. Get a list of school/college open days and attend the ones that interest you. Find out how to apply for the courses that interest you. Pay special attention to application deadlines. Speak to your careers co-ordinator and Connexions personal adviser to find out more.


Action point 7

Choose one career idea that interests you. Look it up in the jobs4u careers database on W and then list the subjects and qualifications that you will need to do this career.

Lucy Lucy has hearing loss and uses hearing aids and lip reading to communicate. She is also fluent in British Sign Language. She has received support from her school and an outside agency, the Sensory Support Team. She plans to continue in education after Year 11. Lucy is a hard-working and determined young person and doesn’t let her difficulties stop her from doing anything. She is currently studying her core subjects in Year 11, alongside geography, art and textiles. She is predicted to achieve A-C grades in her GCSEs.

Subjects and qualifications needed:

Lucy is very interested in a career working with children and is particularly keen on nursery education. She spent her Year 10 work experience at a primary school and really enjoyed it.

Now use your online 14-19 Area Prospectus and Connexions Resource Centre information to find out where you can study and the courses you can take to gain the qualifications you need.

Lucy has applied to study a BTEC National Diploma in Health and Social Care at her local college after Year 11. Whilst she has a strong interest in childcare she wants to keep her career options open. She has talked to her Connexions personal adviser and will continue to have support at college. She is looking forward to a new challenge.


Place: Course: Place: Course: Place: Course:


Section 2 Researching your ideas

Make your choices

Cari Cari is studying a range of GCSEs in school and also attends college once a week to follow a vocational course. She chose to study equine studies at college along with art as an additional GCSE. She is particularly enjoying the college course. ‘I’ve always been interested in horses and have been riding since I was small. The course at college has been fun and I’ve learned a lot about caring for the horses. It has been good to do something practical once a week and to have a break from school.’ Cari has done a mixture of coursework and exams in her GCSEs, but tends to perform better at coursework. She likes the coursework and the practical element of the college course. ‘We do a mixture of practical work and written assignments. The assignments can be quite hard, but I much prefer coursework to doing exams.’ For these reasons, she intends to choose a vocational course after Year 11. ‘I want to stay in education after Year 11 and have looked at courses at both college and the sixth form. I really want to do something practical.’ Based on her previous learning experiences, Cari decided that college is able to offer the type of course that suits her learning style. She doesn’t have any set career plans as yet, but is considering a career in the motor industry or the Armed Forces.

Once you have an idea of where you would like to go and what the courses involve, you can start to think about which might suit you best. What are you good at and what do you enjoy? You will find it easier to succeed if you choose a subject that you know, or think that you would like, and enjoy. Before you decide what to do, discuss the courses that interest you with your family, friends, form tutor, subject teachers, careers co-ordinator and/or Connexions personal adviser. Should you continue to study the same subjects or choose some new ones? As some careers require certain subjects, your career goal may influence the courses you choose. However, you will probably find a variety of new subjects that you can study after Year 11. If you are interested and willing to learn, you may not need previous experience. If you are unsure about your future career, choose subjects that will give you enough breadth to keep your options open so that you can make the right decisions later on. Which assessment methods suit you best? Choose courses with a blend of assessment methods that are likely to help you succeed. For example, you cannot avoid written examinations altogether, but some courses have more coursework and portfolio assessment than others.

What mix of classroom learning and practical activities suit you? You will enjoy your studies more and find it easier to succeed if you choose courses that allow you to use your preferred learning styles. Do you have good organisational skills? All courses involve deadlines for handing in work and courses with large practical coursework and portfolio elements generally have many of these. Can you organise yourself effectively to complete and hand work in on time or do you need support with this? Do you have good time management skills? You need good time management skills to ensure that you turn up in the right place at the right time. This is especially important if you choose a learning programme that involves studying different courses in different locations. Are you a good timekeeper or do you need support with this? Where will the course lead? If you have a firm career plan, check that you are taking the subjects you need to reach your career goals. If you are still undecided about what you want to do, choose a variety of subjects that will give you plenty of choice in the future.

Hot tip Don’t ruin your ch ances of success by missing an appl ication deadline. You can apply to m ore than one school or college if you need more time to decide whi ch one is right for you. This has th e added bonus of giving you a ba ck-up plan in case things do not go th e way you expect.


Section 2 Researching your ideas


If you are interested in finding a job, you need to choose work with training or a training programme that allows you to gain nationally-recognised qualifications. Changes in the labour market mean that employers increasingly want more and more people with qualifications at Level 3 or above. People with higher level qualifications earn more during their working lives than people with poor or no qualifications. Get in touch with the labour market When you start looking for a job, you are entering the labour market – the place where workers compete for jobs, and employers compete for workers. Get ahead of the competition by using labour market information to help you think through your choices and career ideas. Labour market information tells you: where the job vacancies are – their geographical location, the industries and occupations the skills and qualifications people need if they want to fill these vacancies what the jobs involve, how much they pay and whether they have a long-term future the different career paths to these jobs how the labour market is likely to change in the next few years the skills and qualifications that people are likely to need in order to get and keep a job in the future. To find up-to-date labour market information about the careers that interest you, start by using the jobs4u careers database at W

Get qualified Here’s a reminder of why qualifications are so important… Your qualifications tell people what you know, understand and can do. They help employers and others to see what you are good at and give them an idea of what you could be capable of doing in the future. Having qualifications shows that you can learn and apply yourself. As all qualifications assess essential skills for life and work, they also demonstrate that you have the attitudes, skills and qualities that employers and others value. You need qualifications to get a job with decent pay and long-term prospects – labour market information shows that employers want more people with qualifications at Level 3 or above and fewer with qualifications at Level 2 or below. Gaining qualifications gives you more job choice and improves your earning potential. It also helps you to do a job effectively, increasing your chances of being offered higher level training and promotion.

Labour market information suggests that in the future most people will change jobs several times during their working lives. If you want to compete in the job market, you will need qualifications.

Explore your options Your work and learning choices may include: an Apprenticeship, where you can earn while you learn and gain the qualifications you need for a specific job a job with training, where the employer organises the training a job without training – where you may still be able to take time off for study and training to gain a Level 2 qualification and improve your employment prospects a training programme to prepare you for work self-employment – very few people do this at the end of Year 11 so if this is your goal, get expert advice as soon as possible.

Hot tip

g , a youn average good n O ! s y pa re Learning tting five or mo more e g 0 n ,0 o 100 0 n per s s over £ n r a e e t ha s E GC S rking lif o h w ir e h ning wit during t ves lear a le . o 2 h l e ew low Lev so meon tions be a c fi li a u q


Section 2 Researching your ideas

Ten things you need to know about Apprenticeships

Jonathon Jonathon is 18 and works as a trainee machine operator for a local label manufacturing company. He really enjoys the opportunity to be able to learn a trade and earn money at the same time. ‘My Apprenticeship also involves me going to a printing college once a month, so I can get qualified in this trade too.’ He is working towards an NVQ Level 2 in Machine Printing. An Apprenticeship is no easy option, as Jonathon has found out. It takes a lot of dedication, as it involves being committed for three years to working and learning new skills in the workplace and combining this with going to college. ‘If you are willing to work hard the rewards are great. An Apprenticeship gives you a chance to earn money straight away plus learn a trade and gain qualifications that can help you in the future.’

1 2

There are over 180 different types of Apprenticeship. Your options will depend on your experience and what is available locally.


Doing an Apprenticeship takes commitment and a clear decision about the career direction you want to take. Many advanced apprentices are now using their Apprenticeship as a stepping stone to many higher education courses including Higher National Certificates and Diplomas, Foundation degrees and honours degrees (see page 19).


To be eligible for an Apprenticeship you must live in England and not be in full-time education. Other entry requirements vary. Some include having specific experience and/or qualifications at Level 1 or 2, for example GCSEs in mathematics and English at grade C or above. Others require you to pass an initial assessment.

5 6

The time it takes to complete an Apprenticeship varies. Some take one or two years. Others can take up to five years.


Rates of pay vary, but an apprentice must be paid at least £80 per week as this is a condition for employers offering Apprenticeships, and you may well be paid more than this.

8 9

As well as bank holidays, Apprentices get at least 20 days’ paid holiday per year.

If, like Jonathon, you feel you want to combine working, earning and learning at the same time, your local Connexions centre may be able to help you find an Apprenticeship near where you live. ‘I was working part time in a supermarket, but kept in contact with my Connexions personal adviser. When he told me about this Apprenticeship I jumped at the chance to apply and was lucky enough to get it.’


All Apprenticeships include: an NVQ at either Level 2 or 3; key skills qualifications; a technical certificate offered by an awarding body such as BTEC Edexcel or City & Guilds, and other qualifications required for your chosen occupation.

Apprentices get on-the-job training from their employers and spend time with a learning provider, usually a college. They can spend anything from 100 to 1,000 hours studying, depending on the occupation.

You can apply for an Apprenticeship in different ways. You can approach or send your CV to an employer who takes on Apprentices to see if they are willing to accept you. Speak to your careers co-ordinator or ask your Connexions personal adviser for a list of local contacts. Alternatively, you can call the national Apprenticeships line on T 08000 150 600 who will send you information on the areas of work you are interested in and arrange for a local adviser to call you. The adviser will put you in touch with learning providers or employers near you who may have suitable vacancies. You may have to attend interviews and/or take tests before you are accepted for an Apprenticeship.

To find out more about Apprenticeships: Speak to your careers co-ordinator or Connexions personal adviser, call T 08000 150 600 or visit W

Section 2 Researching your ideas


Job searching If your goal is to get a full- or part-time job, speak to your Connexions personal adviser who will be able to give you advice about, and practical help with, job searching. You should also: look at the vacancies noticeboard in school read the job pages in local newspapers and magazines visit the websites of companies that you would like to work for to see if they have any vacancies use job search websites make copies of your CV (see page 21) to give to local businesses that you would like to work for write to companies that you would like to work for – see page 20 for advice on how to do this.


Jobs and training Employers want a well qualified workforce so many organise training for their employees. If you find a job that doesn’t offer training, you may qualify for Time Off for Study and Training (TfST). If you are 16 or 17, did not get any Level 2 qualifications at school (see pages 5-9) and are not in full-time education, you are entitled to reasonable time off during normal working hours to study or train for an approved qualification. This must be a Level 2 qualification that will improve your future employment prospects. To find out more about TfST: Visit your local Connexions centre or W

Work preparation training programmes (e2e) These are personalised programmes that prepare people for entry to employment. If you know that you want to get a job with training but are not quite ready for an Apprenticeship or lack the confidence to start job hunting, this may be the option for you. These programmes: are flexible and tailored to your individual needs include team work, job-search skills, career guidance, help with getting and keeping a job, motivation and key skills help you to build your skills and self-confidence so that you can cope in the workplace provide a stepping stone to a job with training, an Apprenticeship or further education. To find out more about these programmes: Speak to your Connexions personal adviser or visit W

Hot tip

sses to local busine If you call in work, e m ti tll- or par fu ut o ab ng aski e your CV. k you to leav as en ft o ey th 20 for Look at page . ed ar p re p e B CV. w to write a advice on ho

Matt is at college studying a BTEC National Diploma in Hospitality Supervision. When making his Year 11 choices he wanted to study at a higher level but didn’t want to do A Levels. The BTEC National Diploma offered him the opportunity to do a more practical course but still gain a Level 3 qualification. ‘I go to college four days a week and spend one-and-a-half days in the kitchen or restaurant each week, either preparing and cooking food or serving customers. I enjoy the practical work and it’s a really good way to learn.’ Matt has found that there is still quite a lot of theory to learn. The students are assessed through both their practical ability and through written assignments. ‘There is still a fair amount of theory work on the course and it can be quite hard.’ Matt is interested in being a chef, but was keen to keep his options open. He is also interested in joining the Navy and knew that further qualifications would help his application. ‘The course I am doing is about much more than just cooking. It covers a wide range of jobs in the hospitality industry and also helps to improve team working and leadership skills. This will be useful for any job I go into in the future.’


Section 2 Researching your ideas

Self-employment Not many people start running their own business at the end of Year 11. If this is your goal, you will need a great business idea, strong enterprise skills, some expert advice and an ability to work extremely hard.

Test your enterprise skills Sign up for enterprise workshops and activities in school – get ideas from the Schools’ Enterprise Education Network at W You may even be able to get involved in national projects run by organisations such as: Young Enterprise – W YoungBiz – W Shell LiveWire – W The Make Your Mark Challenge, which is a national online enterprise challenge – W

Get expert help Do not try to go it alone. Even big businesses employ expert help!


Action point 8

Things to do next checklist: What help do I need to find the right opportunity for me?

Do I have any useful contacts? Who?

How can they help me?

Speak to the people at your local Education Business Partnership. Find yours at W Get in touch with Business Link on T 0845 600 9006 or W This organisation offers training in the business skills you will need and can direct you towards lots of other useful contacts. Check out The Prince’s Trust on T 0800 842 842 or W

What shall I do next?

experience needed

Section 3 Thinking ahead


Your qualifications are only part of what you have to offer education and training providers and employers. Most will also want to know about your wider experiences and how they have influenced your personal development and your career choices. Are you doing enough to make your experience count? Work experience

Voluntary work

Most schools organise work experience in Years 10 and 11, often with the help of outside agencies. Your school will help you to find a placement and make sure that it meets health and safety requirements. Sometimes work experience is not possible because of health and safety issues, but you may be able to work shadow someone (follow them around as they do their job). Although you won’t get paid, the new skills you gain and the new contacts you make will help you when you are applying for a course, training programme or job. Other benefits of work experience include: gaining an insight into the world of work the chance to ‘taste’ different work areas giving you something positive to tell future employers helping you to explore your career ideas and make decisions about your future direction building and practising your employability skills such as communication, team work and problem solving understanding what is expected when you are working with people of different ages.

Although you don’t get paid, volunteering gives you the chance to help your community, experience different work environments, learn new skills and develop your self-confidence. If you are not already involved in volunteering, check out these ideas.

In considering your choices, reflect on any work experience you have had, what it was like and whether you felt ready for work. Did you enjoy the work area your placement was in?

Part-time or holiday work Getting a part-time job or holiday work will build your employability skills. Sometimes it can even lead to a permanent job.

Vinspired: Helps young people aged 16-25 find volunteering opportunities. Find out more at W Community Service Volunteers: The UK’s largest volunteering and training organisation. Lots of ideas for young people aged 16-24 on how to find volunteering opportunities linked to their personal interests. Find out more at W The Prince’s Trust: Runs a variety of programmes for people aged 14-30 and aims to build confidence, motivation and team-building skills. Find out more at W or call T 0800 842 842. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award: A voluntary, non-competitive and flexible programme of cultural and adventurous activities for young people aged 14-25, whatever their background or ability. Find out more at W Youth Parliament: For people aged 11-18, the Youth Parliament has over 300 elected members and works just like the Westminster one. Make your views heard. Visit W DO IT: National database that can help you find local volunteering opportunities. Visit W


t tip Keep i n fo r m a t io n a b e x p e ri e n ce out and vo and part-tim work l e , hol p l a c e s u n t a r y wo r k in a s iday o t h at y a fe ou c an yo u w inter vi rite CVs and use it when ew s . p re p i s i n a T h e b e s t p l a a r e fo r c p o r t fo l i o o f e e to p u t i t v ide nc e.


work in a changing world

Section 3 Thinking ahead

Hot tip Some young people take a year out (a gap year) befo re starting university, but it could be at any time. They spend it stu dying, working or travelling. If you want to know more, visit yo ur local Connexions centre,

W w w w.yearoutgroup.o rg or W w w w.connexions-dire


Action point 9

What do you think employers are looking for in an employee? Jot down your ideas here:

Like everything else, the world of work is changing all the time. Will you be able to cope with constant change? When you enter the workforce you will have to: Keep topping up your knowledge and skills so that you are up to date with the latest developments – the best way to deal with change is to continue to improve your knowledge and skills throughout your life. Be ready and willing to learn a wide range of skills so that you can do several different job tasks, work in different parts of an organisation and move easily from one organisation to another. Be flexible in your working arrangements. You could have different part-time jobs, have a full-time job working alongside part-time workers, work from home, be self-employed, have a fixed term contract (three months, six months, a year) or work flexible hours so that you can fit work in around family, study and other commitments.

What could you offer an employer? (You can use this information in your CV.)

Develop good IT skills so that you can use IT in business – e-mail, e-conferencing, e-learning, e-business technology and so on. Improve your chances to progress at work by gaining Level 2 or Level 3 qualifications if you don’t already have them. Have a good work ethic, for example, be committed to your work and reliable, punctual, polite and smart. Have essential work skills, for example, be able to work as part of a team, follow instructions and accept criticism. Develop good communication skills and customer awareness.

Going global More and more people are spending part of their working life abroad. If this sounds like something that you would like to do in the future: check out company websites to see if they have branches in other countries and encourage their staff to move between them visit the UK National Resource Centre for International Careers Information at W visit W for information on working in Europe.

Hot tip

of g a port folio . Start buildin one ile d ag ve fr ha is u ry Memo what yo f o f el rs u yo mind clude . You could in evidence to re ed ev hi ac ve ha les of and what you ports, examp re en tt ri w s, ons. hoto r congratulati certificates, p s of thanks o d er an tt s le n d io an plicat work are making ap to u ce yo en n id he ev w , Then will have u yo s, w ie rv o it al ng r inte preparing fo uld even take co u Yo y. sa t you support wha w with you. to an intervie


Section 3 Thinking ahead


Hot tip

Changes in the job market and the demand for better qualified workers mean that more young people are thinking about higher education as a way to improve their future prospects.

Some scho ols and coll eges offer higher edu cation mod u les a of 16-19 lea rning progra s part mmes. Many offer other activ ities to introduce y ou to A sk your ca higher education. reers co-ord inator or Connexio ns persona l adviser for details of the activ ities and opportunit ies at your school.

Routes to higher education

Paying for higher education

Most people know that A Level and International Baccalaureate programmes are two routes to higher education. But they are not the only ones. You can also enter higher education from Diplomas, Apprenticeships and vocational programmes. If you want to take a break from education and work for a while, most courses will take your work experience into account when assessing your suitability for a course. If you already have a particular full-time higher education course in mind, you can look up the entry requirements on the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) website W For more information on university and higher education visit W

Going into higher education sets you up for a greater choice of jobs and a good chance of better pay. It could be one of the most valuable things you ever do. There will be costs while you are studying, but there is a lot of financial support on offer to help you cover them. You can get financial help that takes account of your personal situation and the type of course that you are doing. If you have a disability, you may also get funding for equipment, specialist support, travel and other expenses. Check out the details on pages 24-26.

Higher education qualifications Higher education doesn’t just mean getting an honours degree. You could, for example, work towards a Foundation degree or a Higher National Certificate or Diploma. Foundation degree (Fd)


Developed in partnership with employers, this degree is based around work and is a Level 5 qualification (see page 5). It will help you to develop the higher level knowledge and skills that employers are looking for. You can do a Foundation degree course at college, university, in the workplace or through a combination of these. Some are available as distance learning courses. Entry requirements vary, but most include Level 3 qualifications and some require specific work experience. Foundation degrees can provide a stepping stone to an honours degree, professional qualifications, entry to a particular career and promotion at work.

Studying abroad When you are 18, you may be able to study abroad. If you are keen to plan ahead, contact Connect Youth on T 020 7389 4030 and see W for details of international student exchanges. Eurodesk has information on funding opportunities for study overseas at W


Action point 10

Is higher education for you? Use this space to think about the advantages and disadvantages for you. Advantages:

Disadvantages: Higher National Certificate (HNC) and Higher National Diploma (HND) L5 These are Level 5 qualifications that you can study at higher education and further education colleges. They are work-related and focus on learning by doing. The entry requirements for most courses include at least one Level 3 qualification. HNCs and HNDs provide a stepping stone to a career in the chosen work area, to progress at work, to gaining professional status and to gaining a higher level qualification such as an honours degree.

I think I will probably:


Section 3 Thinking ahead

applications and interviews

Whatever you decide to do, you will probably have to make an application and attend an interview. Use this section to help you make the best possible impression. Writing a CV

Sharne Sharne chose to study hairdressing one day a week at college in Year 10 and quite enjoyed the course. At the beginning of Year 11 she was offered the opportunity to spend one day a week doing work experience. She took up the offer and began working at a local nail bar. ‘I really enjoy my work experience. I’ve learned how to do manicures, hand massages, acrylic and gel nails. I also get to serve customers, which has given me more confidence.’ Before working at the nail bar, Sharne was keen to train as a hairdresser after Year 11, but her work experience has changed her ideas. ‘The nail bar is part of a beauty salon and I have been able to learn about other treatments as well as nails. I’ve also been allowed to watch the beauty therapists and have learned a lot from that. I’m now planning to train as a beauty therapist when I leave school.’ Sharne has decided that beauty therapy will give her more opportunities than hairdressing and she likes the variety of work involved. She discussed her ideas with her Connexions personal adviser and now plans to study beauty therapy at college after Year 11.

CV stands for Curriculum Vitae. It is a short description of what you can offer in the way of skills, qualifications, interests and experience. What you put in a CV tells people what you are like and gives them an idea of your potential. The more effort you put into writing your CV, the better the impression it is likely to make. CVs usually include: Personal details: name, address, telephone number and a sensible e-mail address. Personal profile: a couple of sentences that summarise you. For example, ‘A hard-working, responsible person who …’. Education: the names of the secondary schools you have attended with dates. Put the most recent first. Qualifications: the titles and grades of all courses taken. If you don’t know your actual grades, use your predicted grades. Work experience: employer names with dates and a brief description of duties. Interests and hobbies: List the most important. Include details of extra activities that you have done in or out of school like the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. References: two people who know you (not relatives), who can describe you honestly and hopefully positively. Many schools and Education Business Partnerships arrange for local employers to offer coaching in CV writing, and practise interviews.

Writing job application letters As with any formal letters you may write, the format for an application letter is: Introductory paragraph: you give your reason for writing. Middle (or development) paragraphs: you tell the employer why you want the job, some information about yourself and what you could bring to the job. Last (or concluding) paragraph: you explain any actions that you have taken or would like to request, for example, ‘I have enclosed my CV’ or ‘I would be grateful if you could send me an application form’.

Section 3 Thinking ahead

Hot tip Most recruiters ta ke less than 30 seconds to look at each CV they get. Make a good impr ession with a well-presented an d informative CV. Ask for help if you need it!


Action point 11

Start work on your CV. Fill in your details in the dotted areas below or use the interactive version at W

CURRICULUM VITAE Name: Address: Telephone number: E-mail: PERSONAL PROFILE:

EDUCATION: (Name of secondary school)





(Dates attended)







Section 3 Thinking ahead

Action point 12

Imagine that you are writing a letter of application for a part-time job in a retail outlet and finish this letter by filling in the dotted areas.

Your name, address, e-mail and e phon

Date Mrs Davis The Manager H Sons Ltd 43 Sandy Lane Hammerhill Leicestershire LE10 8SD

Dear Mrs Davis Re: The post of I am writing to apply for the post of Mail on 14 June. I am very interested in this post because

I think I would be suitable because I enjoy

I would be grateful if you could

I look forward to hearing from you. Yours sincerely,

[Your signature] [Print your name]

which was advertised in the Hammerhill

Section 3 Thinking ahead


Completing application forms


Schools, colleges and employers use application forms so that they get the same information from all applicants. This makes it easier for them to see how well an individual fits their recruitment criteria. When completing an application form you should: Work on a draft copy first so that you don’t make mistakes on the form that you are going to post or send. Think carefully about each question and make sure that you answer it fully and truthfully. Follow any instructions on how to complete the form. For example: writing clearly, using capital letters and black ink; using the specified font and font size in a form and the specified subject line in the covering e-mail. Keep a copy of the completed form so that you can remember what you said if you have an interview or receive a query about its content. Ensure that you have attached everything that you have been asked to attach.

Interviews give you the chance to find out more about the opportunity that you have applied for. They also give the opportunity provider (school, college, training provider, employer) the chance to find out more about you. Follow these steps to increase your chances of success. Before you go for the interview: Boost your confidence by preparing well. Research the organisation as well as the course, training programme or job opportunity. Read any information they have sent and look at their website. Plan how you are going to get to the interview to make sure that you will arrive in plenty of time. Think about the questions that they might ask you and work out what you might say. Discuss your ideas with family, friends, teachers and your careers co-ordinator or Connexions personal adviser. Think about the questions that you would like to ask them – don’t forget, it is your chance to see if you like them too. Plan what to wear. If it is a job interview, make a special effort to look smart. Check to see if the interview includes any assessments. If it does, think about what you will have to do and anything you may need to take with you – like a pen. You may have to take examples of your work. Spend time preparing a well-presented portfolio to show the interviewer(s). Think about your health and safety. Always tell somebody where you are going. Never agree to meet anyone who suggests holding the interview in their car or somewhere unexpected like a café. Just before the interview: Turn off your mobile phone. Dispose of any chewing gum properly. Check your appearance. In the interview: Sit up straight and make sure that you have lots of eye contact with the interviewer(s). Smile and be polite. It is important to make a good impression on everyone you meet. Listen carefully to the questions and think before you speak. Always tell the truth.

Hot tip Find out more about CVs, application forms an d letters in the Work and Training section of yo ur school’s Connexions Resource Centre or careers library and at

W w w w.connexions-dire


Section 4 Getting help and support

MONEY N MATTERS Once you have thought about all your options, you need to turn your attention to money!

Tom Tom is talented with words, has won a place on a creative writing degree course and dreams of becoming a scriptwriter. He is in Year 13 and doing English, drama and psychology A Levels. But back in Year 11 Tom had been planning to leave school and start work. Money is very tight at home and he liked the idea of earning some money and having his independence. Talking to his Connexions personal adviser was a real turning point. ‘Before I saw my Connexions personal adviser I didn’t see myself as the type of person who could stay on at school – I just couldn’t afford it. Talking it through and finding out that I could get an Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) made a huge difference to me. A Levels just wouldn’t have happened without it.’ EMA is a cash award of up to £30 a week, plus bonuses given for attendance and achievement, that Tom won’t have to pay back. ‘I have to stick at my course, to keep getting the money, but EMA has really helped me.’ When his friends were applying to university, Tom talked to his Connexions personal adviser again. ‘She explained that I’d be able to get a full grant and a bursary to help me with my university fees and living costs. I’m getting my student finance application form filled out early so that the money is there when I start my course.’

Money and work

Money to learn

If you get a job, you are entitled to the National Minimum Wage from the age of 16 onwards, regardless of the kind of work you do or the size and type of business you work for. The government reviews the rate every year and any increases take place in October. The current rate for 16-18 year olds is £3.40 an hour.

Learning is vital to your success in work and adult life so you can often get help with your learning costs.

Apprentices under the age of 19 are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage. Neither are Apprentices who are 19 or over and in the first 12 months of their Apprenticeship. To find out more about the National Minimum Wage go to W

Money to live If you are under 18 you will not usually get any benefits. If you are in full-time education and training, your parents/ carers will normally receive child and other benefits until you are 19.

Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) If you decide to stay in full-time education or training, do a work preparation programme (e2e) or a Programme Led Apprenticeship, you may be eligible for an EMA. The EMA: is a weekly payment of £10, £20 or £30 a week to help with day-to-day expenses is paid when you attend regularly and work hard on your course/programme, and meet the standards of behaviour and progression as set out in your learning agreement pays you a bonus if you do well and meet the targets you are set when you start your course/programme as set out in your learning agreement

You may get financial help if there are exceptional circumstances – if you have caring responsibilities, for example, or if you can’t live with your parents and carers. If you are worried about money, speak to your Connexions personal adviser.

is calculated by looking at your household income (if your household income is above £30,810 you will not be eligible for an EMA – the household income does not include anything you earn from part-time work)

You may also get extra support if you have additional needs. Speak to your Connexions personal adviser for more information or contact:

does not affect any benefits that your parents/carers get.

Connexions Direct on T 080 800 13 2 19 or W DIAL UK, the disability advice line, on T 01302 310123 or W

To find out more about the EMA go to W

Hot tip

EMA is p aid stra igh yo u r b a nk acco t into u If you h aven’t g nt. o t o ne, get one n ow !

Section 4 Getting help and support

Discretionary Support Funds Support funds can be used to help students aged 16 and over with the costs associated with further education. It is targeted at those in greatest need and can be accessed by contacting the Student Support Officer at your school or college. You can find general information on Discretionary Support Funds at W

Care to Learn If you are a young parent in education or training, this will help you with childcare and travel costs. You do not have to do a course that leads to a formal qualification, but you must be under 20 on the day you start your course. To find out more, speak to your Connexions personal adviser or go to W

Scholarships and study awards These are for people who attend, or who plan to attend, college to study for specialist qualifications in areas such as dance, drama and sports. The money they provide is to help with living costs and tuition fees that government funding does not cover. There are a limited number of these scholarships and awards so there is great competition for them. If you want to find out more, speak to your subject teachers, coaches, Connexions personal adviser and college student services.

Financial support for higher education If you are thinking about going on to university or college, don’t let money get in the way. If you decide to do a higher education course, there is a lot of financial support on offer to help with the costs. For example: The Maintenance Grant is available to full-time higher education students with a household income of less than £60,005 a year. The amount you get varies, but, if you qualify, you could receive up to £2,835 a year. This grant is nonrepayable – you don’t have to repay it.


If you qualify for an Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) you will be offered a Higher Education Student Support Guarantee. This is a firm guarantee of the minimum level of support that you will get if you choose to go into higher education. The guarantee covers non-repayable support (grants and bursaries) as well as loans. You could get over £8,000 of non-repayable help over the average three year course. After you’ve been told what levels of student loans and maintenance grants you are entitled to, you will be guaranteed that support if you decide to go on to higher education. Student Loans for Tuition Fees and Student Loans for Maintenance are available. The loans are subsidised by the government and you only have to start repaying them once you have left higher education and are earning over £15,000 a year. In addition to any student loan or maintenance grant, you may also be able to get a bursary from your university or college. Exactly what is on offer varies between individual institutions, but a bursary is non-repayable. In 2007-08, for students paying the maximum tuition fee and getting the full Maintenance Grant the typical bursary was around £1,000. Institutions may also offer scholarships or sponsorship. If you have a disability, you may be entitled to a Disabled Student’s Allowance. This helps towards the costs you incur because of your disability. It covers things like specialist equipment and extra travel costs. If you are a parent looking after your children, you may be able to get a Childcare Grant. To find out more about student finance visit W



Section 4 Getting help and support

Action point 13

What do you need to know about money and support for learning?

Interested in (tick those that apply)

Where to find out more

National Minimum Wage Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) Getting a bank account Managing my money Learner Support Funds Care to Learn Scholarships and study awards Financial support for higher education Extra help because of my exceptional circumstances Help to meet my disability needs Any others

Hot tip Get more informatio n about financial help from the booklet Financial help for yo ung people. You can download a copy from W oneytolearn You can also downloa d it from the Learning and Skills Co uncil (LSC) website at W www.lsc or order a free copy from the LSC helpline on T 0870 90 0 6800 (quoting reference LS C-P-NAT-070158) .

people, places and websites Everyone needs a bit of help with decision-making. Deciding what to do at the end of Year 11 is too important to leave to chance so make sure that you get all the help and support you need. People People who know you really well want the best for you. They will be ready to listen to your ideas and discuss them with you. They will soon tell you if they think that you are making the right decision and they will tell you why. Share your ideas with someone you know and trust. For example, could you talk to family and friends, teachers, your form tutor, mentor, coach or a youth worker? If you can’t decide what to do, or if you want a second opinion from someone neutral, speak to your careers co-ordinator and Connexions personal adviser. Careers co-ordinators know a lot about what each option involves and how it might help you in the future. They can also tell you where to get more information and help. Connexions personal advisers are specially trained to help you sort out personal and career issues. They can help you to think through your decisions about courses, careers and training. They can also help you to work through anything that may be stopping you from moving forwards, for example, housing or relationships. You might have to ask your form tutor or careers co-ordinator to make an appointment for you. Alternatively, you may be able to drop in to see an adviser at break or lunch times. Watch out for information about when they are in school.

Places Visit the Connexions Resource Centre or careers library and look for the information you need. You will find the resources in the Choices, Education and Work and Training sections particularly useful if you are looking for help with career decisions.

Section 4 Getting help and support


Connexions information is filed under eleven main sections, each with a heading and a colour coded icon to make it easy to find the information you need. Check out: Choices (option choices, post-16 choices) Education (further and higher education, qualifications, study skills, studying abroad) Free Time (volunteering, sport and leisure activities) Health (healthy eating, sexual health, addiction and dependency) Housing (housing advice, leaving home) Law, Your Rights and Citizenship (you as a citizen and you as a customer) Money (managing money, banks and building societies, tax, national insurance and wages) Relationships (being a parent, bereavement, bullying and abuse, family and personal relationships) Travel and Transport (driving, travelling and timetables) Where to Get Help (local and national helplines and organisations, help for special groups) Work and Training (careers, training, work experience, part-time work and job hunting) Pop into your local Connexions centre where you can talk to a personal adviser, use computerised career guidance programs, look at job vacancies, do internet research and get help to apply for financial support. Check your phone book for details of your local centre or go to W Find out the dates of open days and course tasters in local schools and colleges – and attend them!


Section 4 Getting help and support

Charlie Charlie is in Year 11 and undecided about his future career plans. However, he has decided to stay on in full-time education to take A Levels in economics, sociology, geography and psychology. ‘I decided to go into the sixth form as I have no career ideas at the moment and I think that joining the sixth form will keep my options open and would be a good investment for my future. I chose these subjects as I feel that I will enjoy them and get myself a good pass grade.’ Before coming to this decision Charlie gathered a lot of advice and information from his friends, family and the school’s Connexions personal adviser. ‘I had an interview with the school’s Connexions personal adviser and we discussed the options I was interested in. She showed me some potential careers that my A Level subjects could lead to, which are quite a lot, so having more qualifications is definitely going to keep my options open.’ ‘My advice is to choose subjects that you will enjoy as you will probably be spending two years studying them. Always take into account other people’s advice, but remember that you do have the final say in what you choose to do with your life.’

Websites and helplines If you don’t have a computer, you could access one through your local Connexions centre, the Connexions or Learning Resource Centre in your school/college, homework clubs or a public library. Connexions Direct is a telephone helpline and web-based service for people aged 13-19. The helpline is open seven days a week, from 8am to 2am. The website is full of really useful information about all kinds of subjects that affect young people – health and relationships, careers and work, money, travel and disability. Connexions Direct advisers are specially trained to help you sort out personal and career issues. You can talk to them online, on the phone T 080 800 13 2 19 and via e-mail, text T 07766 4 13 2 19 and textphone. Visit the website at W Explore your online 14-19 Area Prospectus to find details of local courses and training programmes. The website W is the government’s one-stop shop for information about public services. It has links to organisations that provide specialist information and advice and you can download important documents about things like financial help for learning. You can search the site using age group, topics and keywords.


Action point 14

List the people in and out of school who you think could help you to make the right choices for you.

How could these people help you?

action plan

Section 4 Getting help and support


Use this plan to help you finalise your post-16 choices. You can photocopy the form or use the interactive version at W Where I am now: (eg thinking about my choices/gathering information/planning college visits/speaking to employers/making applications/preparing for interviews/sorting out finances, etc)

What I need to do and when: (eg get college prospectuses and course guides/look at my online 14-19 Area Prospectus/speak to my Connexions personal adviser/make applications/update my CV, etc) Action


By what date

Completed (Y/N)?


I have now: Researched my options and found out where they can lead Been to open evenings and careers events Spoken to teachers, my Connexions personal adviser, and friends and family Found out if I can get an Education Maintenance Allowance or other financial help with what I want to do Made my decision Applied for my first choice Made a back-up plan You now have all the tools and information you need. Think carefully about your decisions and do what is right for you. It’s over to you‌

Further copies of this booklet are available from the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) at: DCSF Publications PO Box 5050 Sherwood Nottingham NG15 0DJ Tel: 0845 602 2260 Fax: 0845 603 3360 E-mail: ISBN: 0-86110-927-9 © Crown copyright 2008

Other formats This publication is available in Braille and audio CD. Please call DCSF Publications on: T 0845 602 2260 or e-mail: W to order copies. A pdf and text only version is available online at: W You will be able to use your PC to enlarge the text. Feedback This publication has been produced on behalf of the DCSF by VT Careers Management. We welcome feedback on It’s your choice. If you have any thoughts on the content of this booklet, or how it’s presented, please contact: VT Careers Management at e-mail: W Extracts from this document may be reproduced for non-commercial education or training purposes, on condition that the source is acknowledged.

Its your choice  

guide to course and career choices for students in britain

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you