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Parents and Carers of Year 9 Students 2007-2008

Get involved In Year 9, your teenager is being asked to make decisions about the courses and qualifications they will take in Years 10 and 11. This is just the first round of decisions they will be asked to make. There will be further choices about their future in Year 11 and beyond. Your support is invaluable in helping them to make sound decisions. As a parent or carer your influence and support is an important part of the process. This booklet will tell you:

Interactive version of this guide

... what you need to know about Year 9 and beyond by • bringing you up to date with the changes in education

You can find an interactive version of this guide online at parentcarer

• outlining the range of courses on offer in Years 10 and 11 and beyond

Information in this guide often directs you to websites. If you do not have access to a PC at home, you or your teenager can access the internet at your local public library or Connexions centre.

• explaining the options in further and higher education, training and employment • looking at developing skills for life


• highlighting the help and advice available.

We would like to thank Bishop David Brown School for permission to take photographs.

... how you can help your teenager with their decisions by • making sure you understand the bigger picture • helping you to keep an open mind about new developments • recognising the ways they like to learn • taking advantage of the help and advice available.

We would also like to thank all the young people who agreed to be case studies for Parents and Carers. For reasons of confidentiality, some names may have been changed.

Which way now? Which way now? is a guide for your teenager that can help them to make decisions about courses and qualifications in Years 10 and 11. Your teenager’s school should provide them with a copy. Alternatively, you can download a copy or look at an interactive version of Which way now? at whichwaynow or order a copy from DCSF Publications on T0845 602 2260.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) is not responsible for the content or reliability of the websites listed in this publication and does not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them. Listings shall not be taken as endorsement of any kind. The DCSF cannot guarantee that these sites will work all of the time and has no control over the availability or content of the sites listed.

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Section Section Section Section Section Section Section


1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Keeping up with changes Bringing you up to date with the changes in education to help you prepare your teenager for the choices they will have to make in the next few years



Choices in Year 9 Information on the courses and qualifications that may be available to your teenager, how you can help them with their decisions and what other support is available


Years 10 and 11 How you can help your teenager to make learning easier, choose options after Year 11, think ahead and plan for the future


4 11

Financial help post-16 Information about the financial help that may be available to help your teenager continue learning in further education, training or the workplace



Higher education and other options The range of courses and financial help available to your teenager if they want to go on to higher education, plus other options open to them



Skills for life An insight into the skills most valued by universities, colleges and in the workplace, and how your teenager can develop them both in and outside of school



Help with challenges Understanding the challenges that your teenager may face and the information, advice and support that both of you can call on


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Section 1

Keeping up with changes The education reforms for those aged 14–19 are designed to help all young people fulfil their potential by the age of 19 and enjoy ongoing success in learning, work and life. There are significant benefits to young people from staying in education or training until the age of 18, as they may improve their qualifications and skills. This will be valuable to them financially because they will be more likely to be employed and to get jobs paying higher salaries. For example, on average, a young person with five or more good GCSEs earns over £100,000 more during their lifetime than one who leaves learning with qualifications below Level 2. There are also much broader benefits: they are more likely to be healthy and to have good social skills. The curriculum and qualifications for 14–19 year olds are changing. The aim of these reforms is to: • encourage more young people to stay in learning – currently 77% stay on beyond 16 and the aim is for all to stay in education or training until 18 – education or training can happen at school, at college or in a job • provide more options for teenagers • offer courses that take into account the different ways teenagers like to learn • add to the variety of places where they can learn, including the workplace • build a highly skilled workforce to compete in a global economy • give employers a say in the way new courses are put together • all schools are required to offer a programme of work-related learning for 14–16 year olds, which will include enterprise education and work experience.


The main changes are: An exciting new way to learn with 14–19 Diplomas • 14–19 Diplomas will offer your teenager a mix of theoretical and applied learning, including functional English, mathematics and ICT, and the opportunity to develop a specialism or take on some complementary study. • Diplomas will provide your teenager with exciting and challenging opportunities to increase their employability and experience different styles of learning in a variety of settings. • Designed in partnership with employers and higher education institutions, the Diplomas will be widely recognised and valued.

t – they will ‘Diplomas are differen fully rounded give young people a ines education, which comb learning.’ al tic ac pr d an theoretical Sir Alan Jones Chairman of Toyota

The first five will be available in selected schools and colleges from 2008, and by 2013 all 14–19 year olds will have an entitlement to study towards any one of the 14 Diplomas. The National Qualifications Framework on page 3, shows how the 14–19 Diplomas fit with other qualifications, such as GCSEs. For more information on 14–19 Diplomas, see Choices in Year 9 on page 5. Priority for essential skills Good language, mathematics and IT skills are essential for adult life and important to employers. So, these skills will become part of all qualifications – including GCSEs, Diplomas and Apprenticeships – and will be available as stand-alone qualifications. Functional skills are being

tested out in some schools and colleges from September 2007. They will be taught as part of Diploma programmes when they start in 2008 and as part of the other qualifications from 2010. Less coursework in GCSEs From September 2007, mathematics will no longer have any coursework assessment. For many subjects, including business studies and geography, from September 2009 there will be controlled assessments done in school or college that are teacher set and marked, instead of coursework. A levels to stretch the most able Changes from 2008 will include an optional extended project alongside A levels, with pass grades of distinction and merit. For more information on changes to A levels, see Years 10 and 11 on page 12. More options in the Foundation Learning Tier Qualifications at Entry Level and Level 1 are being re-designed to give learning opportunities to those who may struggle at this stage to get GCSEs. The aim is to help them move on to GCSEs or other Level 2 qualifications. Expansion in Young Apprenticeships Young Apprenticeships give teenagers a taste of real work. Alongside doing GCSEs, they spend around two days a week getting practical experience with an employer or training provider and gaining a work-related qualification, such as a City & Guilds qualification or a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ). Numbers have increased steadily from 1,000 in 2004 to 9,000 young people starting Young Apprenticeships in 2007 in a wide range of employment sectors, including retail and sports management. For more information on Young Apprenticeships, see Choices in Year 9 on page 5.

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The National Qualifications Framework Whatever qualifications your teenager is working towards in Years 10 and 11, they will be nationally recognised and valued by employers and educational institutions. How do all the different qualifications relate to each other and where do they lead? The expansion in the range of courses for 14–19 year olds means that some qualifications will be unfamiliar. You may be asking how these qualifications compare to GCSEs or A levels and where they might lead. For example, can someone with a 14–19 Diploma at Level 2 progress on to do A levels? The answer is yes, because all qualifications are graded and grouped into a level with other qualifications requiring the same depth of knowledge, skills and understanding. So if you look at the framework below, you will see

Qualification level

that the Diploma Level 2 is at the same qualification level as GCSEs at grades A*-C. Also, someone with a Level 3 Diploma can go on to university. In the national framework, qualifications are divided into nine levels, ranging from Entry Level certificates to postgraduate and professional qualifications at Level 8. The higher the level, the greater is the depth of knowledge, skills and understanding needed for the qualification. It is the courses leading to different qualifications that vary in content, learning styles and methods of assessment. This national framework has created more opportunities and flexible pathways to move from one level to another. With up-to-date information and guidance from teachers and Connexions personal advisers, your teenager can plot a route through the framework and move across qualification types, as well as from one level to another. This will enable them to carry on learning (full or part time) after Year 11 and beyond.

Level indicators

Examples of qualifications at this level

Entry Level

Builds a basic level of knowledge, understanding and skills.

Entry Level certificates at Levels 1, 2 or 3, in a range of areas including National Curriculum subjects, life skills, functional skills, and skills for working life.

Level 1

Basic knowledge, understanding and skills, and the ability to apply learning to everyday situations.

All GCSE grades D-G; 14–19 Diploma Level 1; Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network (ASDAN) Level 1 certificates; functional and key skills Level 1; Vocationally Related Qualification (VRQ) Level 1, for example: BTEC Introductory or City & Guilds Level 1; National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Level 1.

Level 2

Building knowledge and/or skills in relation to subject or sector areas; gaining the ability to apply learning to a varied range of tasks. This is seen as the minimum level required by employers and is critical to going on to further study and higher skill levels.

All GCSE grades A*-C; 14–19 Diploma Level 2; functional and key skills Level 2; VRQ Level 2, for example: City & Guilds Level 2 or BTEC First Certificates and Diplomas; NVQ Level 2.

Level 3

Learning at this level involves in-depth knowledge, understanding and skills, and a higher level of application. Appropriate for people who want to go into higher education or further training or employment.

All GCE AS and A levels; Advanced Extension Awards; 14–19 Diploma Level 3; functional and key skills Level 3; VRQ Level 3, for example: Foundation Diploma in Art and Design or BTEC National Certificates and Diplomas; NVQ Level 3; International Baccalaureate.

Levels 4–8

Specialist learning involving a high level of knowledge in a specific occupational role or study. Appropriate for people working in or wishing to progress to specialised technical and professional roles, which can involve managing and developing others.

Certificates and Diplomas of Higher Education; Bachelor’s degrees; postgraduate qualifications; professional qualifications; Foundation degrees; Higher National Certificates and Diplomas; key skills Level 4; NVQ Levels 4 and 5.


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Section 2

Choices in Year 9 In Year 9 your teenager has choices to make on some of the courses they will take in Years 10 and 11, or Key Stage 4. There are some subjects that everyone takes, but your teenager’s school will offer a range of courses to choose from. This section explains the wide range of courses now on offer and how you can help your teenager make sound choices. Everyone takes a core group of subjects: • English • Mathematics • Science Your teenager will take an exam, usually a GCSE, in these three subjects.

As well as the core subjects, your teenager will also study: • Information and Communication Technology (ICT) • Careers education • Citizenship • Physical education • Religious studies • Sex and relationships education • Work-related learning Examinations may be available in these subjects but this is optional. Some schools make other subjects compulsory; you will need to check this with your teenager’s school.


The range of courses from which options can be chosen

teenager to find a course that interests them and matches their ability; this way they are more likely to succeed and stay in learning or training after 16.

Your teenager has a wider range of courses available than when you were at school. This increase in choices takes into account the different ways teenagers like to learn and widens the variety of places where they can learn, including the workplace.

General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) The majority of students in Years 10 and 11 will take GCSEs. Your teenager now has more options to choose subjects that interest them and match their abilities.

Please remember that not all schools offer the full range of choices, so check with your school prospectus. The courses offered in Years 10 and 11 can be taken at Entry Level, Level 1 or Level 2. For example, GCSEs grades A*C are at Level 2. For an explanation of what the different levels are, see The National Qualifications Framework on page 3. Entry Level courses If your teenager is likely to find GCSEs difficult, there are courses at Entry Level leading to a Certificate of Achievement. These useful qualifications can lead on to GCSEs or other courses at Levels 1 and 2. The important thing is for your

The range of subjects has broadened out in recent years to include more vocational or applied GCSEs, for example, in engineering, media studies and manufacturing. If your teenager likes a practical ‘hands on’ approach or is interested in learning about subjects directly related to an area of work, an applied GCSE may be for them. Some applied GCSEs count as two GCSE qualifications. You can also choose to take some GCSEs as ‘short courses’, equivalent to half a full GCSE. For more information on the range of subjects that may be available, see Table of commonly offered GCSE subjects on page 10.

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Case Study 14–19 Diplomas The Diploma is an integrated programme for 14–19 year olds that uniquely combines essential skills and knowledge, hands-on experience and employerbased learning, to prepare your teenager for work or further study. The first five 14–19 Diplomas will be available in selected schools and colleges from September 2008, and by 2013 they will be available as a national entitlement in 14 different lines of learning at Levels 1, 2 and 3 covering all the sectors of the economy. They will sit alongside, and may incorporate, A levels and GCSEs. 14–19 Diplomas will bring together: • Principal learning – developing knowledge, understanding and skills in the context of a particular sector. • Generic learning – including functional skills in English, mathematics and ICT, and personal learning and thinking skills. • Additional/specialist learning – offering young people the opportunity to study a particular topic in more depth or broaden their studies through complementary learning. • An extended project – allowing individuals to plan and organise their own learning. At Level 3 the project will demonstrate project management and other higher skills that higher education institutions need. • Work experience as a key feature. Phase 1 – September 2008 • Construction and the Built Environment • Creative and Media • Engineering • Information Technology • Society, Health and Development Phase 2 – September 2009 • Business, Administration and Finance • Hair and Beauty • Hospitality and Catering • Land-based and Environment • Manufacturing and Product Design Phase 3 – September 2010 • Public Services • Retail • Sport and Leisure

Aimed at young people with different abilities, the Diplomas will be available at Levels 1, 2 and 3. At Levels 1 and 2 the Diplomas will be taken alongside core subjects that everyone takes. Subject to availability, your teenager may have the chance to do a Diploma at Level 2 or 3 after Year 11. Work-related courses These courses will suit your teenager if they want a practical ‘hands on’ course and have an interest in, and a commitment to, a particular area of work, such as construction, catering, business, agriculture or engineering. There is a range of different courses – check what is on offer at your teenager’s school. All of them usually involve learning away from school at a college or with a training provider for one or two days a week. Assessment of these courses includes showing that you have the practical skills and knowledge for a task. Examples of the qualifications available include NVQ Levels 1 and 2, City & Guilds Levels 1 and 2 and BTEC Introductory Certificate Entry Level. Young Apprenticeships A Young Apprenticeship is an option that could suit your teenager if they like a more practical way of learning. They do the subjects in school that everyone takes and for the other two days a week they go out and gain skills and work experience with an employer or training provider. They work towards a nationally recognised work-related qualification, such as an NVQ, City & Guilds or BTEC at a level to suit them. Young Apprenticeships pave the way for doing an Apprenticeship after 16, but also keep open all the other options too. Young Apprenticeships are available in health and social care, the motor industry and business administration, among others. However, they are not offered in all areas – please check with your teenager’s school to see what they offer.

Gary Gary is currently in Year 11 and is almost at the end of his GCSEs. At the moment, he doesn’t have a particular career in mind, but enjoys business studies. He has a part-time job and works to help out in the family business at weekends. When it came to choosing his options in Year 9, he decided to do subjects that he knew he would like and those that he felt he could achieve good grades in. By choosing to study a range of subjects in Years 10 and 11, and opting for those that he hopes to pass well in, Gary kept his options open. ‘I’m taking GCSEs in business studies, French, ICT, product design, double science and of course English and mathematics. I’m not sure exactly what I want to do in the future, but, after Year 11, I think I will be staying on in the sixth form to do a mixture of A levels. My advice is to look for something you are good at and are interested in.’ Gary’s parents support his subject choices and are happy that by choosing a range of courses he can move on to further study after Year 11.

jobs4u Careers Database This contains information on over 800 jobs. Your teenager can enter their interests or the subjects they are taking or thinking about taking, and match them to career ideas. They can also find out about the qualifications, skills and qualities needed for different jobs, what is involved in doing them and where to get more information. See the website at jobs4u

• Travel and Tourism


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Choices in Year 9 continued

How you can help It is important to let your teenager make their own decisions, but they need your support to check that the reasons behind their decisions are sound. Encourage them to get involved in making their own decisions and help them to see the process in a positive light – a real chance to choose courses they enjoy. Start by getting as much information as possible In order to help, it is important to understand how the curriculum is changing to meet different interests and the way teenagers like to learn. Try to keep an open mind about the different qualifications on offer and find out the facts to avoid dismissing new qualifications out of hand.

Your teenager’s school is likely to have open evenings for parents and carers and will produce an options booklet covering the courses available in Years 10 and 11. For information on the help and advice available, see Who else can help? on pages 8–9. Bear in mind the factors that influence decisions Your teenager may need steering away from making choices for the wrong reasons. This can be because: • They want to do the same as their friends, regardless of whether it suits them. If this is the case with your teenager, you can help them to see that they can cope in a class without their friends, do a course they enjoy and still see their friends at breaks and after school. • They like the teacher. Help them to see that this is not a good enough reason to do a course that doesn’t suit them.


• They see a course as an easy option. It will not be that easy if they are not motivated by the subject – we all know how much easier it is to make an effort if you are interested. Also, there is no such thing as an easy option. The same principles and standards apply to all courses at the same level, whether it is physical education or mathematics. • They are put off by thinking a course is ‘a boys’ course’ or a ‘girls’ course’. Help them to overcome gender stereotyping and follow their interests and abilities. • Timetable difficulties mean they cannot do the combination they want. Not all combinations will be possible on a timetable, and if this happens you will need to help your teenager consider alternatives. Now there is more choice of courses on offer, your teenager needs encouragement to choose a broad and balanced range of courses that keeps their options open beyond 16.

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Case Study


Questions to consider Of the teenagers taking part in a recent Next Steps survey by the Department for Children, Schools and Families: • 91% said they chose options in Year 10 because they were interested in them • 78% chose subjects that led to specific courses after Year 11 • 82% said their options would help with future careers. You can support your teenager in making their own decisions by helping them to think things through. The following six questions may help you. 1. What are they interested in? If your teenager is interested in a course, they are more likely to make an effort and succeed. Explore their interests both in and out of school. 2. How do they like to learn? Different courses involve different learning styles and have different approaches to work. Your teenager may prefer classroom-based learning or they may prefer a more practical, workrelated course. The mix of coursework and final exams varies between GCSEs and there are plans to reduce the amount of coursework in some subjects, so you will need to check this out with your teenager’s school. Some work-related courses involve a large amount of coursework. For more information on the mix of coursework and exams in GCSEs, see Table of commonly offered GCSE subjects on page 10.

3. What are they good at? Which subjects does your teenager do well in? Also think about what they are good at outside of school work. 4. Are they keeping an open mind? There is a lot of new information to think about. Are they keeping an open mind about unfamiliar courses or qualifications until they have found out more about them? Could a new subject or course give them a fresh challenge? 5. Do they have a specific course in mind after Year 11, or do they have any career ideas? Encourage your teenager to think ahead and make sure they take into account any subjects or qualifications that might fit in with any ideas they have. If they have no definite ideas, reassure them that the important thing is to choose a broad and balanced mix of subjects to keep their options open after 16. 6. Is more information and advice needed? Encourage your teenager to take advantage of the help and advice available to them. You can help them make a list of questions and where to find the answers. For information on where to find help and support, see Who else can help? on pages 8–9.

Bethan is currently in Year 9 and for her option choices decided to study textiles alongside her core GCSE subjects, combined with a City & Guilds Land-Based Studies Certificate Level 1 specialising in Animal Care, which she will study at college. She talked to a range of people, including her parents, teachers, Connexions personal adviser and friends. She was attracted to the vocational course at college because it would give her the opportunity to do something more practical in a subject she was interested in: ‘I have loads of animals at home and I love looking after them. I chose to do Animal Care partly because I think I might like to work with animals in the future and also so that I can do something more hands-on.’ Bethan’s parents were initially concerned about the college course, fearing that she might be missing out on other qualifications in school. After discussions with her teachers and college tutor they were reassured that she would still gain around seven GCSEs, and also achieve a vocational qualification equivalent to D-G grades at GCSE. Bethan thinks she might like to continue at college full time after Year 11 and study for further qualifications. She feels positive about her future: ‘I’m looking forward to going to college and spending time with the animals. It will be good to do something more practical and I’m also looking forward to meeting people from other schools. It will be a good preparation for going to college after Year 11.’


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Section 2

Choices in Year 9 continued Who else can help? There is a network of support to help your teenager progress in their learning and personal development and make informed decisions for their future. Schools Schools welcome the support that parents and carers provide. They offer open evenings for you to find out more about the options in Years 10 and 11 and to give you an opportunity to ask questions. Your teenager’s school will have a careers co-ordinator who is able to talk through the options available and give advice on choosing courses and how these fit in with future education, training and career options. Individual subject teachers and form tutors are a good source of advice as they know your teenager well and how they are getting on in different subjects. Your teenager also has careers education lessons that cover the courses and qualifications available in Years 10 and 11 and how to choose wisely. They learn about the value of work experience and how to look ahead to further education, training and careers. Extra support Volunteers and learning mentors in school can help your teenager overcome any issues that are getting in the way of their learning. You could ask whether your teenager’s school has a mentoring scheme. Some schools also have Learning Support Units, where students can get additional support if they are not performing well in mainstream classes. Ask your teenager’s school for details. Connexions personal advisers Connexions personal advisers go into schools and also work out of Connexions centres. They offer advice and guidance on courses, training and careers and can help your teenager make decisions.


They recognise the part you play in supporting your teenager and are happy to talk to parents and carers in school or in a Connexions centre. Most Connexions centres are in a central high street location and you can find your nearest one by contacting Connexions Direct, see below. Connexions Direct This is a service for 13–19 year olds that offers quick access to information and advice, either through the website or through contact with a Connexions Direct adviser. You and your teenager can get in touch by phone, e-mail, text or online. Connexions Direct takes calls from 8am to 2am, seven days a week. Call them on T080 800 13 2 19, text on T07766 413 219, or talk to an adviser online or e-mail from the website at For further information on how Connexions can help, see Help with challenges on pages 20–21.

Connexions isn’t just about advice on courses and careers Connexions personal advisers give information, advice and practical help with a variety of issues, like choosing courses, mapping out future career options, finance, health and using spare time in a sociable, positive way. In fact, they can help with anything that might be affecting your teenager at school, college, work or in their personal or family life.

Parentscentre An online ‘one-stop-shop’ of information and support for parents and carers on how to help with all aspects of your teenager’s learning, including issues relating to choices in Year 9, and links to other websites. Take a look at the website at

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Help for young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities Parents and carers of teenagers with special needs or disabilities can get additional help and support from their Connexions personal adviser and the school’s Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator. Transition plans Young people with statements of special educational needs must have their transition through the rest of their school time and on to adult life set out in a plan. In Year 9 your teenager and you will be invited to a review meeting where you will have the chance to say what you would like included in the transition plan, and to discuss this with teachers

and the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator. Your teenager’s Connexions personal adviser will also help with the plan and provide ongoing support to put it into action. This support from Connexions continues until your teenager reaches the age of 25. A network of support When your teenager has specific, additional needs or a disability, there are so many things to think about, such as finding the best health care or therapy, supporting them at school and investigating the services and opportunities available. There are networks of support and resources available, including your local Parent Partnership Service, to help you meet these challenges. See the table below for organisations that can help you.

Support organisations Who



Contact a Family

Offers support and advice and can put you in touch with families in similar circumstances.

0808 808 3555 Text phone: 0808 808 3556

Directgov: public service information

Information about the rights of people with disabilities, their education and available benefits.

Disability Rights Commission: 08457 622633 Text phone: 08457 622 644 Benefit Enquiry Line: 0800 882200 Text phone: 0800 243355

National Parent Partnership Network (NPPN)

Provides information, advice and support for parents of young people with special needs. Can provide contact details for your local service and put you in touch with other useful organisations. Ask your Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator for details.

Shaw Trust

Help for young people with disabilities seeking jobs and training.

01225 716300

Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities

Provides information about education, training and work for students with disabilities.

0800 328 5050 Text phone: 0800 068 2422


A website which includes information for parents and carers of young people with special educational needs.

Transition Information Network

A network of organisations and individuals providing information and support for disabled young people, their parents and carers.

020 7843 6006


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Section 2

Choices in Year 9 continued Table of commonly offered GCSE subjects There are some subjects that everyone takes and others are optional. Please check what is offered at your teenager’s school, as the choices and the levels at which they are offered are not the same at every school. For a list of the areas of the curriculum that are compulsory, see Choices in Year 9 on page 4. The level of coursework for each subject may vary between different examining boards. The figures given are a guide only.

Compulsory subjects (offered by all schools) English Between 20% and 40% coursework, the rest is examination.

Mathematics 100% examination.

Science Between 20% and 40% coursework, the rest is examination. Applied science is two-thirds coursework and one-third examination.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) All students have to study ICT, but it is not a compulsory examination subject. For those who do choose this as an option, typically 60% is coursework and the rest is examination. Applied ICT is two-thirds coursework and one-third examination.

Optional subjects

For more information on what is involved, visit the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) website at

Art and design


60% coursework and 40% examination. Applied art and design is two-thirds coursework and one-third examination.

25% coursework and 75% examination. Some courses are 100% examination.

There will be no coursework in GCSEs started in 2009 in business studies, geography, history, modern foreign languages, religious studies and some other subjects not listed above.

Business studies

For more information on courses and levels, see The National Qualifications Framework on page 3. Don’t forget that the new 14–19 Diplomas may be available in your teenager’s school. For more information, see Choices in Year 9 on page 5.

Leisure and tourism Up to 25% coursework and the rest is examination. Some courses are 100% examination. Applied business studies is two-thirds coursework and one-third examination.

Two-thirds coursework and one-third examination.

Manufacturing Two-thirds coursework and one-third examination.

Citizenship studies

Media studies

40% coursework and 60% examination.

50% coursework and 50% examination.

Design and technology

Modern foreign languages

60% coursework and 40% examination.

The coursework can count for up to 25% and there are tests in listening, reading and speaking. Some examination boards do a written test instead of coursework.

Drama A mixture of 60% coursework and 40% examination, which may include performance.

Music Engineering Two-thirds coursework and one-third examination.

Tests in composing and performing make up 50–60%, plus written examination.

Physical education Geography Examination, but 20–25% of the result is based on a geographical investigation involving fieldwork.

60% coursework and 40% examination. Coursework includes assessment of sports performance in two chosen activities.

Religious studies Health and social care Two-thirds coursework and one-third examination.


Usually 20% coursework and the rest is examination. Some courses are 100% examination.

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Section 3

Years 10 and 11 Helping your teenager to be a smart learner

Learners who like to visualise things…

Helping your teenager to learn

Your teenager may need support with planning so that they can do their homework and assignments on time. They will also need a space in which to work at home. Developing good time management skills is useful for meeting coursework deadlines in Years 10 and 11, making applications for further education, training and work after Year 11, and later on in higher education and the workplace.

• take numerous detailed notes and often close their eyes to remember something

If they like to visualise things, they should...

However, planning is only one part of the learning process. Have you ever wondered why your teenager wants to listen to music, say things out loud or get up and move about when they are learning? It could be all to do with their learning style. We use our different senses – hearing, seeing and touching – to help us learn things. Some of us prefer to use one sense more than the others. This leads to the different ways in which we like to learn – our learning style.

Do you know your teenager’s learning style? This can help you understand how they like to carry out tasks and do their homework or revision, so that you can support them. Here are some clues:

• find something to watch if they are bored

• use visual materials when they study, such as pictures, charts, maps, graphs, etc

• like illustrations and presentations that use colour.

• have a clear view of their teachers in order to see their facial expressions

Learners who like to listen…

• use colour to highlight important points

• tend to listen well but don’t always pay attention to what is happening in front of them • hum or talk to themselves or others when bored

• illustrate their ideas as pictures before writing them down

• learn by reading aloud or talking about lessons.

• study in a quiet place away from noise.

Learners who like action or touch…

If they like to listen, they should...

• learn best through hands-on activities, such as cooking, engineering or art

• join in class discussion and debates

• need to be active, take breaks and find reasons to tinker with something or move when bored

It’s your choice is a guide for your teenager that will help them to make informed decisions about routes and options post-16. Your teenager’s school should provide them with a copy. Alternatively, you can download a copy or look at an interactive version of It’s your choice at

• use a tape recorder instead of taking notes • read text out aloud

• remember what was done, but have difficulty recalling what was said or seen.

• create musical jingles to help them remember things

If you know your teenager’s learning style, you can help them to:

• dictate to someone who writes down their thoughts.

• improve how they learn in the classroom, carry out tasks or do revision

If they like action or touch, they should...

• identify situations where they find learning difficult, work out whether this is because it is not geared to their learning style and ask their teacher for help

It’s your choice

• take notes or use handouts and visualise information as a picture

• be smart learners by giving them hints and tips for studying.

• discuss their ideas

• take frequent study breaks and move around to learn new things • work in a standing position • use bright colours to highlight reading material • listen to music while they study • skim through reading material to get a rough idea of what it is about before settling down to read it in detail.


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Years 10 and 11 continued Deciding what to do next Whatever your teenager decides to do after Year 11, it is vital that they continue to learn and build on their qualifications and skills to give them the best possible start in life. For information on the financial support that may be available to help your teenager stay in learning, see Financial help post-16 on pages 14–15. In order to compete in the global economy, the UK needs a highly skilled workforce. There will be more opportunities, advantages and money for those with qualifications and skills. There are different ways of gaining qualifications and skills after Year 11. The main options are: • continuing in full-time education at school or college • learning and training in the workplace – usually through an Apprenticeship • finding a job or self-employment and continuing in part-time learning • Entry to Employment – an option if your teenager is not ready to do one of the above.

Full-time education There is a wide range of courses to choose from in school sixth forms, sixth form colleges or colleges of further education. From September 2007 you will be able to access an online Local 14–19 Prospectus which lists all of the courses available in your area. For more information, speak to your Connexions personal adviser or careers co-ordinator. Find out how to access your Local 14–19 Prospectus for where you live at W


Advanced Subsidiary (AS) and Advanced (A) levels If your teenager wants to study a particular subject in more depth, this option may suit them. This could be the chance to carry on with a favourite subject or to try a new one. As well as the familiar subjects, there are also subjects related to an area of work, such as leisure and tourism, or accountancy. A levels are useful for entering higher education or going straight into a job. A levels are two-year courses made up of the AS level and the A2, with each part being 50% of the overall grade. Most students take three or four AS levels in the first year and then choose to continue with three A2s in the second year to make full A levels. There is also the chance to take Advanced Extension Awards alongside A levels with two pass grades – distinction and merit. There are changes coming in from September 2008 to stretch the most able students. There will be a reduction in the number of units of work from six to four in most subjects. An optional extended project will be available. These changes will increase the range, breadth and challenge of A levels available. The extended project would be completed towards the end of Year 13. Higher education modules now allow teenagers to work in greater breadth and depth, and will also enable them to develop their independent working skills in preparation for progression onto higher education courses.

International Baccalaureate In some areas, your teenager may have the option of doing an International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. For 16–19 year olds, the programme leads to an International Baccalaureate, which is recognised by many of the world’s leading universities. It aims to help develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills that teenagers will need in order to live, learn and work in a globalising world.

The programme takes two years to complete. Students study six subjects selected from a range of subject groups. Normally three subjects are studied at higher level (courses representing 240 teaching hours), and the remaining three subjects are studied at standard level (courses representing 150 teaching hours). All three parts of the core – extended essay, theory of knowledge and creativity, action, service – are compulsory and are central to the philosophy of the Diploma Programme.

14 –19 Diplomas 14–19 Diplomas will be available in selected areas from September 2008. They are available at Levels 1–3 and may be an option at whatever level is appropriate, given a student’s previous learning or achievement. The subject areas are Construction and the Built Environment; Creative and Media; Engineering; Information Technology; Society, Health and Development.

For more details on 14–19 Diplomas, see Choices in Year 9, pages 4–5. Full-time qualifications related to the workplace These may suit your teenager if they have a definite career in mind and want to do something specific towards this. There are a wide range of qualifications offered at different levels, such as the BTEC National Diploma (Level 3 of which is equivalent to A levels) and NVQs at Levels 1–3. Some are offered in school sixth forms, but the majority are available in further education colleges.

To find out how these qualifications fit in with other qualifications, see The National Qualifications Framework on page 3.

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Case Study

Apprenticeships Apprenticeships give young people the chance to work and learn while they earn. Working for an employer or as a trainee on a programme-led Apprenticeship, your teenager can choose from a broad range of jobs, such as hairdressing, engineering, business administration, laboratory work and many others. They work towards a nationally recognised qualification, such as an NVQ, BTEC or City & Guilds qualification. They can take these qualifications at Level 2 or Level 3. All 16–17 year olds with five or more GCSE passes at grades A-G can choose to do an Apprenticeship. A Connexions personal adviser can help your teenager decide which employment sector and level is best for them. The national minimum wage of £3.40 an hour for 16 and 17 year olds (from October 2007) does not apply to Apprentices under the age of 19. Pay can vary, but all employed Apprentices funded by the Learning and Skills Council in England must receive a minimum of £80 per week. To find out more, visit W

Going into employment If your teenager is thinking of going straight into a job, encourage them to find one that offers part-time training to learn skills and gain qualifications, as this will offer them better prospects for promotion and higher wages. If your teenager does not have a Level 2 qualification – that is, GCSEs at grades A-C or NVQ Level 2 or equivalent – they are entitled to have paid Time Off for Study and Training (TfST). To be eligible, they must be aged 16–17 and in employment. To find out more, visit

If they do have a Level 2 qualification, it is still in their best interest to aim for a job with training. Your teenager’s Connexions personal adviser can help them find a job where they can continue to learn new skills and gain valuable qualifications. For more information on qualification levels, see The National Qualifications Framework on page 3. If your teenager is thinking of starting their own business, they should still plan to do further training to develop their skills. Help is available through Business Link on

T0845 600 9006 or and from the Prince’s Trust on T0800 842 842 or

Not ready to go straight into one of the above options? Entry to Employment (e2e) is a programme that helps 16–18 year olds move on into further education, training or employment. If your teenager needs help with their literacy, numeracy and IT skills, e2e could be the right option for them. e2e gives them the chance to gain qualifications in these skills and the opportunity to try out different jobs. Ongoing support and advice is available from their Connexions personal adviser. Your teenager could be eligible to receive an Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) while on the programme and may get help with travel expenses. For more information on financial support, see Financial help post-16 on page 14.

Sarah Sarah has always enjoyed mathematics and, having completed some work experience in Year 10 at an accountancy firm, she knew she wanted to combine her interest in mathematics with a career related to finance. She continued with her studies in the sixth form, opting for A levels in mathematics, psychology and chemistry and AS levels in Latin and further mathematics. ‘When choosing your A levels, it is important to think about what you want to do with them afterwards. I knew I wanted to go on to university to study mathematics, so I used the Connexions Resource Centre at school and the internet to research the contents of degrees and their entry requirements, and checked whether I needed certain A level subjects to get in.’ Sarah is now in her final year at university on a MORSE (Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics) degree. She chose a degree that allows her to continue with her interest in mathematics, but also keeps her career options open. She opted for a course that also included business elements rather than just pure mathematics. ‘Looking back, I was pleased that I had done further mathematics at AS level, as although it wasn’t a requirement, I found it gave me a real head start in my first year at university.’ Having completed a successful work placement during her summer break, Sarah is now heading towards a career to train as a chartered accountant once her exams are over.


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Section 4

Financial help post-16 It is a sound investment for your teenager to develop a wider range of higher level skills, knowledge and qualifications after Year 11. This will open up more job opportunities for them and better pay. In the 21st century job market, skilled workers are in demand to help the UK compete in the global economy. Financial support may be available to help your teenager stay in learning and achieve their goals, whatever route they take.

Help for students Whether your teenager is staying on at the same school or going to a new sixth form or college, they may be able to claim Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and/or get help from the school or college’s Learner Support Funds. Some Local Authorities may provide help with public transport costs and there may be help with residential costs for students wanting to attend courses at colleges too far away for daily travel. Special help may be available for students accepted into dance and drama schools. Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) Your teenager could get £10, £20 or £30 a week, plus bonus payments of up to £100 for doing well and meeting agreed targets. They can use the cash to help with their expenses and can still claim EMA even if they have a part-time job. It doesn’t affect household benefits either, so you will still be able to claim things like Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit.


Your teenager may be able to get EMA after Year 11 if:

• in full-time education at school or college

pilot scheme for students wanting to attend courses at colleges outside daily travelling distance. For more information, contact the student support officer at the college your teenager wishes to attend and visit

• or on an e2e programme

Dance and Drama Awards

• or on a course that leads to an Apprenticeship (known as a programme-led Apprenticeship)

The number of Dance and Drama Awards is limited and competition for them is extremely fierce. They are given to those students who, regardless of their financial circumstances, show the most talent and potential at their audition with the dance or drama school of their choice.

• they are aged 16–18 • they are:

• your annual household income is below a certain threshold (for 2007-08 applications, it must have been less than £30,810 in the 2006-07 tax year). For more information on EMA and how to apply, call the EMA helpline on T0808 10 16219 or visit W Learner Support Funds Schools and colleges have Learner Support Funds to help out further education students aged 16 and over with financial emergencies, or if they have trouble paying for costs associated with their course. They can get help with the costs of transport, books, equipment, childcare provision and residential costs. For more information, contact the student support or welfare officer at the college or the year tutor, student support or student awards officer at school. You can find general information on Learner Support Funds at Help with transport costs To see what help with transport costs your Local Authority may offer students aged 16–19, visit Help with residential costs If your teenager wants to go to one of the 51 specialist colleges that offer courses, for example, in agriculture, horticulture or art and design, they can get help with the cost of living away from home. There is also a residential

Conditions do apply, though, and your teenager will not be able to claim EMA if they get a Dance and Drama Award. For further information, visit W Other sources Some national and local organisations, including charities and trusts, offer grants to students studying certain subjects or who have a particular disability. Useful starting points for finding such organisations include your local public library, the Skill National Bureau for Students with Disabilities website at and the Educational Grants Advisory Service website at i

Financial Help for Young People This useful booklet summarises all of the financial help available to 16–19 year olds and where to find more information. You can download a copy from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) website at or order a free copy from the LSC helpline on T0870 900 6800 (quoting reference LSC-P-NAT-060103).

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Case Study Help for Apprentices and trainees Trainees on courses leading to an Apprenticeship (Programme-led Apprenticeships) who are unpaid may be able to claim EMA. Apprentices in England who are employed earn at least £80 a week and often more. For more information, contact the Apprenticeships helpline on T08000 150600 or visit and

Help with Entry to Employment (e2e) Teenagers on e2e have their expenses paid in full and may be able to claim EMA as well. For more information, visit and select Work, then Work Schemes.

Help for young parents If your teenager is under 20 and a young parent and carer of their own child or children, they can get Care to Learn funding to help pay for childcare with a registered childcare provider, so that they can follow courses at school, college, on a programme leading to an Apprenticeship or on e2e. For more information, talk to a Connexions personal adviser or contact the Care to Learn helpline on T0845 600 2809 or visit W

Help for young people with disabilities or learning difficulties Because of the way they are funded, colleges will usually be able to meet your teenager’s disability-related needs, for example, by providing specialist equipment or additional support. Local Authorities must ensure that students are not held back from attending college because of transport difficulties, so they often provide transportation support for disabled students. The college may also be able to help to meet travel costs. Your teenager may be able to get a place at an independent or specialist residential college if their disabilityrelated needs cannot be met by a local school or college. If your teenager gets a job or is about to start work, the Access to Work scheme can help them with the additional employment costs they have because of their disability. It can pay for things like the extra cost of getting to and from work, special aids and equipment, and adaptations to premises. For more information, visit For help with other costs, young people with disabilities or learning difficulties should also apply to the other sources of funding described in this section that apply to their situation. Your teenager’s Connexions personal adviser can help you identify the extra financial support they may be able to get after Year 11. Other useful information is available from the Skill National Bureau for Students with Disabilities website at

Kate Kate is currently in Year 12 in school sixth form, studying A level mathematics and geography and an applied A level in health and social care. She applied for an Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) before she started in the sixth form and has been receiving the allowance for a year: ‘I have used EMA for things like the books I need for my A levels, and to buy myself lunch during the day. Anything I have left over I leave in the bank and put towards my savings for university. EMA goes straight into my bank account every week and it soon adds up. You can also get bonuses if you do well on your course.’ In order to get EMA, Kate has to attend all her lessons and have her timetable signed by her tutor. She says this is sometimes a good incentive to get up in the morning and go in! Kate feels that EMA has been a real help to her and her parents: ‘Mum and Dad can still claim Child Benefit for me and I have a part-time job. Getting EMA doesn’t affect either of these. If I didn’t get EMA I’d have to pay for everything out of my wages or ask my parents for money. Getting EMA means I can be more independent.’ Kate plans to continue with her studies in Year 13 and will reapply for EMA this summer.


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Section 5

Higher education and other options Why choose higher education? Higher education is becoming more and more popular as a post-18 option choice. Latest figures show that almost one in three young people aged 18 and 19 are improving their prospects by taking higher education courses – so don’t rule out higher education for your teenager even if no one in your family has done it before. Having higher education qualifications opens up more job opportunities, with the possibility of more interesting work and greater earnings in the future. Your teenager may even be invited to sample university or college life by taking part in local activities, such as campus tours, residential visits and taster days arranged for students with the potential to go on to higher education but who may not normally consider it.

Higher education is not just about degrees... There is a whole range of higher education courses to choose from, and many of them are work related. Although entry with A levels is still a popular route, your teenager will be able to apply for courses with a relevant BTEC National or 14–19 Diploma at Level 3. Examples of higher education courses include: Higher National Certificates and Diplomas (HNC and HND) These qualifications equip people with the knowledge and skills they need for a particular field of work. They can lead straight into a career and in some sectors they are a stepping stone on the route to professional qualifications. With further study, they can be converted into degrees. These courses take one year (HNC) or two years (HND) full time and can also be done part time.


Foundation degrees These are qualifications in work-related subjects that combine study with workplace learning. There are no set entry requirements and appropriate experience as well as qualifications is taken into account when assessing suitability for the course. Because they have been designed with employers, Foundation degree courses help people to gain the knowledge and skills that employers are looking for. A full-time Foundation degree course usually takes two years to complete and can be done part time. A Foundation degree is a useful qualification in its own right, but, with a further year’s study (in most cases), it is possible to convert it into an honours degree. Degrees Sometimes these are called ‘bachelors’ degrees, ‘first’ degrees, ‘ordinary’ degrees or ‘honours’ degrees. Degree courses provide an in-depth understanding of a subject, including the very latest thinking or findings. Some, such as medicine or law, prepare people for a particular career. All degrees lead to the development of skills that are highly valued in the workplace, such as analysing and evaluating evidence, problem solving, making sound judgements, report writing and presentation. Most full-time degree courses last for three years or four if the course includes a year out in industry or abroad. Courses in some subjects, such as veterinary science and architecture, last longer. It is also possible to study for a degree part time and by distance learning.

Applying to university Most applications to degree courses have to be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Your teenager’s school, college or Connexions personal adviser will help with the process, and help is also available on the UCAS website at Before applying, it is important to research thoroughly both the courses and the institutions where they are held. All universities publish their own prospectuses, which are free, and have their own websites and open days. The UCAS site holds information on all the courses that can be applied for through their service and many institutions provide ‘Entry Profiles’ for the UCAS site which give information on the qualifications and attributes that you will need to be considered for particular courses. Connexions centres and Connexions Resource Centres in schools also have information about institutions and courses.

Aimhigher For a wealth of user-friendly information for anyone thinking of going into higher education, visit You can download the following useful booklets or request copies by calling T0800 587 8500 and quoting the reference number: Don’t stop doing what you love (PRE1607) for students under 16 Your future, your choice (16PLUS07) for post-16 students Help your child into higher education (PARENT07) for parents and carers

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Case Study Other options at 17 and 18 Taking a gap year Some young people take a year out before moving on to the next step of their career path. They may choose to do paid or voluntary work, full or part time within the UK or abroad, or travel. It may provide an opportunity to earn some cash before going into higher education or gain confidence and experience before getting a job. Some volunteering activities even offer opportunities for accreditation. It can look good on a CV if your teenager plans it well and makes the most of their time. Getting a job At school or college, your teenager will be able to get help with job search skills such as selling themselves well on application forms and at interview. They can get further help at their local Connexions centre, which will also have details of local job vacancies particularly suited to young people. Apprenticeships Your teenager could still do an Apprenticeship so long as they are not in full-time education and they start before they are 25. For more information on this option, see Years 10 and 11 on page 13. Starting a business This is a fairly unusual step for school leavers. However, if your teenager has a great business idea, has done a lot of research and is prepared to work hard, this may be an option for them. For help developing entrepreneurial skills, see Challenges on page 19.

Paying for higher education There are two main costs involved: tuition fees and living expenses. Tuition fees cover the cost of the course, whereas living expenses cover the cost of accommodation, books, food, clothes etc. Financial help is available if your teenager is planning to take any of the courses described in this section. Tuition fees In 2008-09 students will be liable to pay tuition fees of up to £3,145. The amount could vary between institutions and between courses. There are different fee arrangements for students

studying in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, so if your teenager wants to study outside England they will need to find out what the fees are. Loans for tuition fees Students living in England can take out a low interest Student Loan for Fees for any amount up to the full amount of the tuition fee payable. The money is paid direct to the university or college where they are studying. Student loans only become repayable when students leave university and are earning more than £15,000 a year. See Paying back student loans below for more information. Living expenses The Student Loan for Maintenance The Student Loan for Maintenance (sometimes known as a loan for living costs) can help with basic living costs such as accommodation, food and clothes. In 2008-09, students living away from home and studying in London can borrow a maximum of £6,475, whilst students living away from home and studying outside London or living at home (wherever they are studying) can borrow maximums of £4,625 and £3,580 respectively. Student loans only become repayable when students leave university and are earning more than £15,000 a year. See Paying back student loans below for more information.

Paying back student loans Student Loans for Tuition Fees and Student Loans for Maintenance are low-interest loans with the interest rate linked to inflation. This means that the amount repaid is roughly the same in real terms as the amount borrowed. Student loans only become repayable when students leave university and are earning more than £15,000 a year. Repayments are then at 9% of their earnings over £15,000. This means that someone on a salary of £18,000 will pay back about £5.19 per week.

Laurence Laurence is studying AS levels in mathematics, further mathematics, physics and music. With help from his school, his Connexions personal adviser and a psychiatrist, who all supported his funding application, he has additional learning support from his Local Authority’s Medical Education Team. Laurence developed bipolar disorder in Year 10, and the severity of his illness meant he was unable to attend school. Special funding paid for home tuition to enable him to continue his GCSEs and achieve the high grades predicted before his illness. Home tuition will continue to support his learning up to A level and he is predicted to achieve the grades needed to study the degree in mathematics or physics at university that he’s aiming for. Laurence’s Dad is keen for him to apply for a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) to help pay for the extra support needed because of his disability when he moves on to university: ‘I’m encouraging Laurence to apply for DSA funding, with support from his tutors, healthcare professionals and the Disability Unit at university, to pay for the extra support he needs.’ Laurence says: ‘My illness hasn’t affected my ambition – if anything I’m more determined than ever to achieve. I think extra support helps to put me, as a disabled student, on a more level playing field with students of similar academic ability.’

Repayments are related to how much is earned and not how much is borrowed – the more you earn, the more you repay; the less you earn, the less you repay. For most people, repayments are collected through the UK tax system.


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Section 5

Higher education and other options continued Maintenance Grants Depending on their household income, students may be able to get non-repayable Maintenance Grants of up to £2,835. • Students with a household income of less than £18,360 will get a full grant. • Students with a household income between £18,361 and £39,305 will get a partial grant. • Students with a household income of over £39,305 will not receive a grant. Special Support Grant Students can get a Special Support Grant if they are eligible for benefits such as income support or housing benefit. The grant covers extra courserelated costs such as books, equipment and childcare and does not affect benefit payments. Students who are entitled to a Special Support Grant will not receive a Maintenance Grant. Bursaries English universities and colleges charging the full tuition fee for a course have to provide extra non-repayable financial help to students receiving the maximum Maintenance Grant or Special Support Grant. The help could be in a variety of ways, for example cash or discounted accommodation costs. In 2007-08 the minimum bursary will be £305; however many universities are offering more, and not just to these students. Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) These help meet the extra costs students may have as a result of studying their course and as a direct result of their disability, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty. How much a student gets does not depend on income and this help does not have to be repaid. Access to Learning Fund This is available through universities and colleges and provides help for students who need extra financial support for their course and to stay in higher


education. Your teenager should get in touch with the institutions where they are thinking of studying for more information about whether they can get this help and how much they could receive.

Some students take time out before their higher education course and get a job to reduce the amount they have to borrow. Others take part-time jobs while they are studying to help boost their income, often working in shops, bars, hotels and restaurants.

Planning ahead Some families plan ahead to ease the costs of higher education through regular saving and investment plans. An independent financial adviser may be able to give you some ideas on the best ways of doing this.

Where to find out more About...


The range of financial help available to higher education students

Useful information can be found on: How to get financial help as a student Request a copy by calling 0800 587 8500 and quoting reference FINANCE 08. The Student Finance Direct Customer Support Office (0845 607 7577) offers practical advice and guidance on applying for student loans and other types of finance.

Disabled Students’ Allowances

Help for students with children or adult dependants Information about higher education and DSAs, plus you can download the publication Bridging the gap. Alternatively, contact your Local Authority for a copy of Bridging the Gap or order one via the DCSF information line on 0800 731 9133. Information about help with childcare, course-related costs and adult dependants, plus you can download the booklet Childcare Grant and other support for full time student parents in higher education. Alternatively, contact your Local Authority for a copy of the booklet or order one via the DCSF information line on 0800 731 9133.

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Section 6

Skills for life Often employers report that they cannot find people with the right mix of skills to help their businesses remain competitive in a global economy. These skill gaps are frequently in areas such as oral and written communication, customer service, team working and problem solving. Universities and colleges also look for students with good communication skills, who can handle figures and have the skills needed for independent study. The courses that your teenager will be doing from Year 10 will help them to learn skills that will be useful to them later on – in further study, in the workplace and in everyday life. However, the things they do out of school will also help them to develop these skills and provide useful experiences that they can include on their CV later on.

What are skills for life? Mathematics, English and ICT Your teenager will need practical skills in these areas so that they can cope confidently with further learning, employment and daily life. These ‘functional’ skills are seen as being so important that soon people will be able to take them as stand-alone qualifications. Meanwhile, GCSEs in mathematics and English can demonstrate your teenager’s skills in these areas.

Employers, universities and colleges are looking for people who: • have a positive attitude • have team working skills • have problem solving skills • are able to apply IT and numeracy • are able to communicate well • have business and customer awareness • are able to self-manage. They are also looking for people who are: • independent enquirers – able to find and use information to make decisions or draw conclusions • creative thinkers – able to explore and come up with ideas and ways to solve problems • reflective learners – able to think about what they have done and how they can improve.

Developing skills for life Your teenager can start developing these skills right away. Work experience Most schools organise work experience in Year 10 or 11, often with the help of outside agencies. Your teenager will be able to find out first-hand what skills employers are looking for and get a taste of working life. They may also be able to take part in workplace visits, work shadowing, mock interviews and enterprise activities to help them develop the skills and ‘can do’ attitudes to take on challenges. Help is available through local Education Business Partnerships – find yours through Working part time Getting a part-time job not only gives your teenager a bit of financial independence but also provides the opportunity to meet people, build confidence and practise using their skills.

There are laws and local restrictions about the type of work young people can do, and the hours and days they are allowed to work before the end of Year 11. To find out more, visit or contact your local Connexions centre. Volunteering Many teenagers find that volunteering is a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and expand their horizons. It could be a regular commitment or a series of one-off activities. It can help to build your teenager’s confidence and it looks good on a CV. Some volunteering activities even offer opportunities for accreditation. For ideas on where to find opportunities particularly suited to teenagers in your area and elsewhere, visit (click the ‘Free Time’ tab), or Challenges If your teenager is looking for a personal challenge, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme may be what they are looking for. They can start with the Bronze Award when they are 14. To find out more, visit Your teenager’s school will probably have an enterprise programme and may offer enterprise workshops or the chance for students to take on a project or set up and run their own real company at school. They have to think for themselves, plan ahead, take risks and work together in a team – entrepreneurial skills that will serve them well in both the workplace and higher education. Your teenager’s school may offer opportunities to get involved in national projects, such as Young Enterprise, YoungBiz and Shell LiveWIRE The Make Your Mark Challenge is a national online enterprise challenge – see


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Section 7

Help with challenges There is a lot more to your teenager’s life than learning and work. Most of the time daily life is not a problem, but sometimes they may have concerns that make it hard for them to cope with other areas of their life.

Sex and relationships

Personal finance

Sex becomes legal in England, Scotland and Wales at 16 and in Northern Ireland at 17. Your teenager may start to form close relationships before this. If you are able to discuss relationships with your teenager in an open and supportive way, it is more likely that they will delay sexual activity and use contraception when they decide to go ahead.

Opening a current account can encourage your teenager to save and manage their money more responsibly. They can put their pocket money, cash gifts or earnings from part-time jobs into it.

It is important to be able to look at these challenges from your teenager’s point of view and understand that they may be embarrassed or reluctant to talk about them with you at first. It is also helpful if you are familiar with the issues that teenagers face today, which may be very different from those you faced at their age. Information, advice and support are available and can help you to break the ice and make difficult conversations a bit easier.

Should your teenager discover she is pregnant, her Connexions personal adviser can help her to find services and sources of support. They can put your teenager in touch with GPs, family planning clinics, Brook and other youth clinics, school nurses, health visitors, teachers, social workers and youth workers.

See the table opposite for a list of resources that may help you and your teenager with any of the problems discussed below.

During puberty your teenager is going through both physical and emotional changes triggered by adjustments in their hormone levels. Relationships with friends and family members change, sleep patterns alter and body image often becomes an important issue. Recognising that this is a response to chemical changes within the body and a normal part of growing up will help both of you to understand and deal with it.

Drugs, alcohol, smoking Drugs, alcohol and smoking are a part of today’s youth culture and all can put your teenager at risk. It is important for your teenager to understand the risks involved in these activities and how they might affect their life – physically, mentally, socially and legally. Knowing what actions they can take to reduce these risks will help them to stay safe.

Bullying Bullying causes a great deal of emotional distress. If your teenager is being bullied, it can have a negative effect on their school performance and can lead to lateness and truancy. Try discussing the problem with the school, and ask for details of their anti-bullying policy.



Health, well-being and weight

Getting plenty of exercise and eating well is important for your teenager’s overall well-being. Being overweight increases the risk of getting diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. To avoid this, encourage your teenager to eat a balanced diet that includes breakfast every day, and to cut down on junk food. If you are concerned about your teenager’s weight or eating habits, you can get advice from your doctor.

Mobile phone bills can become costly, so choose a tariff carefully and shop around for call packages. Make sure your teenager is aware that when downloading things such as wallpaper or ringtones, they often have to join a club, which will continue to send them texts charged at a premium rate. Accessing the web on a mobile also incurs a charge.

Safe use of the internet Although the internet has many positive benefits, make sure that your teenager is aware of the potential dangers involved with using it. Encourage your teenager to act responsibly and safely when communicating and accessing information through the internet.

Brushes with the law Although most teenagers do not break the law, for those that do it could be a sign that there are problems elsewhere in their lives. Connexions personal advisers can help you and your teenager to deal with the consequences of offending, as well as any underlying causes in other areas of their life.

Connexions can help Your teenager’s Connexions personal adviser is someone who will listen and share your concerns. Connexions can put your teenager in touch with expert advice and help in any area of their life where they need support. There are also a lot of helpful websites and services where you can get one-toone support over the phone, by e-mail or online.

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Information and one-to-one support Key Aimed at teenagers

Aimed at parents

Aimed at anyone

Help with...

Find out the facts

Get one-to-one help

Anything that may concern your teenager

Connexions Direct: 080 800 13 2 19 (8am–2am, 7 days a week), or text: 07766 4 13 2 19, or visit: to send an e-mail or get advice online. Childline: 0800 1111 (for 12–16 year olds) Parentline Plus: 0808 800 2222

Health and well-being including physical and emotional health, and healthy living (bereavement)

NHS direct: 0845 4647 YoungMinds Parents Information Service: 0800 018 2138 Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90 RD4U (bereavement): 0808 808 1677

Staying safe including drugs, alcohol, smoking, bullying and internet safety (alcohol) (solvents) (solvents) (all addictive drugs) (smoking) (bullying) (internet safety)

Drinkline: 0800 917 8282 Frank (drugs): 0800 77 66 00 Narcotics Anonymous: 0845 373 3366 or 020 7730 0009 Smoking Quitline: 0800 00 22 00 Re-Solv (solvents): 01785 810762 Bullying Online (advice on school bullying):

Sex and relationships including the law, sexuality, pregnancy, sexual health and contraception

Sexwise helpline (for under 18s): 0800 28 29 30 Brook helpline (for under 25s): 0800 0185 023

Brushes with the law

Case Study


therefore became involved in the lambing season at a local farm:

Lizzie has always loved animals and is interested in training to be a vet. For her work experience in Year 10, she chose to work at an RSPCA rescue centre. She spent two weeks there.

‘I learnt quite a few things whilst lambing, including a lot of scientific things about sheep. It was quite gory at times and I found out that I’m not squeamish, which is definitely good if I want to be a vet!’

‘I really enjoyed it at the centre. I loved spending time with the animals and it gave me a real insight into what’s involved in looking after animals on a large scale. I also talked to other workers there about their jobs and how they got into working with animals.’ Lizzie knows that getting into veterinary work is extremely competitive and that work experience is considered essential by university admissions tutors. She

So far all of Lizzie’s experiences have confirmed her career interest and she feels she has learnt a great deal. However, in order to widen her experience further, she has applied to her local vets for a work placement during the summer before she starts her A levels. She feels that this will give her the opportunity to develop her skills and learn more about the work involved.


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DCSF Publications 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 Phone: 0845 602 2260 Fax: 0845 603 3360 Website: ISBN: 0-86110-923-6 Crown copyright 2007 Extracts from this document may be reproduced for non-commercial education or training purposes, on condition that the source is acknowledged.

Parents and Carers  

Parents and Carers Booklet