Information on work and
learning options for Year 10
and 11 students
What are the options?
What to study and where
Work and learning
Applications and interviews
Getting help and support…
and lots more…
It’s your choice 2007-08
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 now time for you to
make some choices. After eleven years
of 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 Acknowledgements
process and provides a step-by-step approach. It leads you through We would like to thank Bishop David Brown School for permission
the process of considering all your options and then making an to take photographs.
informed choice about what you want and what best suits you as We would also like to thank all the young people who agreed to be
an individual. Everyone in Year 11 is going to be choosing their own case studies for It’s your choice.
route, and there is plenty of information and advice available to The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) is not responsible
help you to make the right choices for you. 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
There is a guide called Parents and Carers, which is available
taken as an endorsement of any kind. We cannot guarantee that these sites
to help them to understand the choices ahead and how they can will work all of the time and we have no control over availability or content
best help you. of the sites listed.
If your parents or carers have not received a copy, ask your school
or order a copy from: DCSF Publications, PO Box 5050, Sherwood,
Nottingham NG15 0DJ.
T 0845 602 2260. Or check out the interactive version online at
Section 1 Section 6
What are the options? 2 Experience needed 22
● Personal calendar 3
● Which route shall I follow? 4
Work in a changing world 23
What about money? 24
What to study and where 10
Getting help and support 27
Work and learning 14
Individual learning planning 29
Applications and interviews 18
Visit the interactive version of It’s your choice at
2 Section 1
12 What are the options?
There are lots of choices, but don’t At this stage you need to start thinking about
worry because, although you have how you learn and work, what makes you
happy and what you want from life. There’s
many options available to you lots more information on this in the rest of
regarding what you can do after the booklet, but for now, it’s your time to do
Year 11, all the choices can be split some thinking…
into two main categories: Use the space below to think about your
initial thoughts and ideas.
● continuing in full-time education
Jason has a range of career ideas ● continue your learning through work-
including computer programming, Action point 1
law and animation. He is an able
student and is good at a wide The route that appeals to me initially is:
variety of subjects including September Guarantee
mathematics and science. He has From September 2007 onwards, the
chosen to study a range of subjects September Guarantee will mean that
at A level which will enable him everyone leaving education in Year 11 has
to keep his career options open: an offer of an appropriate post-16 course, so
This appeals to me because:
‘I chose the subjects that I am you will receive the information, advice and
good at and that I enjoy, whilst guidance you need to take up a place.
also taking into account my career
ideas. I want to be able to change
my plans if my ideas change, and I If you choose to continue in full-time
also like studying a range of different education, your choices are:
The areas I want to research further are:
subjects because it adds variety.’ ● school sixth form
● sixth form college
Jason chose to study A level graphics,
ICT, mathematics and critical thinking ● further education college
at sixth form and plans to go on to ● specialist college.
higher education. He is keeping an
open mind about his choice of higher
If you choose the training/work route,
education course and plans to decide
your choices are:
when he has received his AS results.
● becoming an Apprentice
‘Doing a range of A levels will be ● getting a job where you receive training
useful for any course that I want
● joining an Entry to Employment (e2e)
to do at university and for any
profession. Getting good grades programme Find out as much information as
will hopefully mean that I will be ● self-employment. possible, to make sure you come to
able to choose between a wide the right decision.
range of degree courses.’
If you don’t have a career in mind, make
a choice with lots of options to progress.
If you do have a career in mind, research
Look at the jobs4u your career and choose your options
careers database at accordingly. Remember, no qualiﬁcation
W www.connexions- is ever wasted.
What are the options? Section 1 3
This Personal Calendar has been developed to help you to plan for the year
ahead as you make your choices in Year 11.
Action point 2
Autumn Term 2007
● Read the It’s your choice booklet to give you an overview.
● Complete the activities within this booklet to help you focus on yourself.
● Use your school’s Connexions Resource Centre to research all your options after Year 11.
● Think about careers that interest you and ﬁnd out as much about them as you can.
● Start thinking about the routes that interest you and your reasons.
● Think about keeping your options open if you don’t have a career in mind.
● Begin collecting prospectuses for colleges and sixth forms that interest you.
● Request information about Apprenticeships and the application process.
● Talk to your Connexions personal adviser about your plans and next steps.
● Discuss your thoughts, ideas and plans with friends, family and teachers.
● Find out when the college and sixth form open evenings are – attend these.
● Look at the Local 14–19 Prospectus (see page 6).
● You may need to start applying for some courses now.
● Create a portfolio of evidence (see page 23).
Spring Term 2008
● Start narrowing down your choices.
● Apply for college or sixth form courses, training courses or an Apprenticeship.
● Mock exams. If your results have changed your predicted grades, you may need to rethink your options.
● Think about a back-up plan, should your results be better than (or not as good as) you’d hoped.
● Create a revision plan that works for you and be prepared to stick to it.
● Prepare for interviews for college, sixth form or Apprenticeships.
● Check that you have completed all your coursework.
● Check if you are eligible for the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and apply if you are.
● Speak to your Connexions personal adviser regarding any careers-related topics.
Summer Term 2008
● Seek advice from your Connexions personal adviser as soon as possible if you don’t have any plans.
● Ask your personal adviser to help if you are seeking work with training.
● Think about a pre-employment programme, like Entry to Employment (e2e), if you don’t want to study and are not
sure you are ready for work yet.
● Check that you have received and conﬁrmed your offer of a place at college or sixth form. You can still apply if you
haven’t done so yet.
● Try to organise a job or some work experience for the summer holidays.
● GCSE results are out on Thursday 21 August. If your results are better than (or not as good as) you’d hoped, visit
your local Connexions centre as soon as possible. The school leaving date is the last Friday in June.
4 Section 1
12 What are the options?
Which route shall I follow?
Now you know the options that
are available, how are you going
to make your choice? The quiz
below will help you to understand
yourself better and to decide which
option suits you best.
Action point 3
After Year 11, I want to…
(A) Gain more qualiﬁcations and continue to study.
(B) Go to work and gain more qualiﬁcations as I earn.
Ebere first met with his Connexions (C) Continue to study, but I am not sure which qualiﬁcations to do.
personal adviser in school at the
end of Year 10. At this point, (A) Take a full-time course at a school or college.
he was interested in a career (B) Work while studying part time.
related to engineering and wanted (C) Think about what I would like to do in the future – maybe get a job.
some more information about
Apprenticeships, which he had (A) Study subjects that I enjoy and am good at.
recently seen advertised on television. (B) Gain a qualiﬁcation linked to the work that I want to do.
Ebere met his Connexions personal (C) Get some advice about the type of courses and qualiﬁcations
adviser several times in school during that would suit me best.
Year 11, where they discussed the
option of doing an Apprenticeship (A) Gain the qualiﬁcations I need and earn more money in the longer term.
and also of continuing in full-time (B) Go to work and start earning some money.
education to study for further (C) Find out about getting some ﬁnancial support to help me study or train.
qualifications, either in the sixth form
or at college. As a result of these (A) Study for higher level qualiﬁcations as a step towards gaining the job I want.
sessions, Ebere became aware of (B) Start working as soon as possible.
the post-16 routes open to him. (C) Get some help to make the right decision for me.
Now in his school’s sixth form, Ebere
is studying A levels in mathematics,
physics, ICT and sociology. Ebere How did you score? Mostly Bs
has forged a successful working Add up your totals of As, Bs and Cs and You are probably thinking about training,
relationship with his Connexions check the results below. work-based learning, work with training or
personal adviser and they continue Apprenticeship routes. (On an Apprenticeship
Mostly As you can work, train for qualiﬁcations and
to have discussions about the most You are probably interested in the full-
suitable progression pathways for him earn a wage all at the same time.) See the
time education route – studying at school Qualiﬁcations section on pages 5–9,
once he has completed his A levels. or college. This is a very broad area, and Work and learning on pages 14–17 and
Ebere plans to apply to university there may be opportunities to study a the Applications and interviews section
to study for a computer science general or a work-related subject. See the on pages 18–21.
course, but first he wants to Qualiﬁcations section on pages 5–9 and
take a gap year during which he What to study and where on pages Mostly Cs
intends to get a job to give him 10–13. Check the What about money? It sounds like you are not sure which way to
some relevant work experience. section on pages 24–26 to see whether you go at the moment. Talk to your Connexions
qualify for ﬁnancial help. personal adviser, teachers, family and
friends to get some help and advice. See the
Getting help and support section on
Qualiﬁcations Section 2 5
Whether or not you stay in full-time education, it’s Advanced Subsidiary level and Advanced level
important that you continue learning and gaining (AS level and A level)
qualiﬁcations. Although having qualiﬁcations will not ● You can choose from a wide range of subjects at AS and A level.
guarantee you a job, people with the right skills and You could continue with subjects you studied at GCSE, or take
up a new subject not offered at GCSE, for example sociology,
qualiﬁcations have a greater chance of ﬁnding a job law or philosophy.
that offers better prospects and more money. Changes
● Find out what is available at sixth forms and colleges in your area.
in the job market mean people without skills may ﬁnd
● Most students take three or four AS subjects in the ﬁrst year
it hard to get work.
and carry three on as A2 subjects in the second year to gain full
A levels. From September 2008, the number of units of work will
There are a lot of courses available, leading to a range of be reduced from six to four in most subjects at A level.
qualiﬁcations, so it can get a bit confusing. This section gives an
overview of what is available and how the different qualiﬁcation ● From September 2008, an optional extended project will be
levels relate to each other, to help you decide which courses are available. This will increase the range, breadth and challenge of
right for you. A levels available. The extended project is a single piece of work
that requires students to explore a subject independently and in
depth. It is a free-standing qualiﬁcation and can be completed at
General Certiﬁcate of Secondary Education various stages.
(GCSE) ● Most A level subjects involve a combination of examinations
Should you not get the grades that you were expecting, some and coursework. Optional coursework is not available.
schools and colleges offer the option of retaking your GCSEs in
● Higher education modules now allow you to work in
order to gain an improved grade. Some offer new GCSE courses.
greater breadth and depth, and also enable you to develop your
Getting better GCSEs could help you to get the job or the college
independent working skills in preparation for progression on to
place that you want.
higher education courses.
6 Section 2 Qualiﬁcations
Advanced Extension Awards 14–19 Diplomas
(AEAs) ● Do you want a real alternative to
If you are likely to get A grades in your traditional qualiﬁcations? The 14–19
A level studies, there is the option of taking Diploma can help you develop work-
an Advanced Extension Award, which relevant skills, knowledge and
can provide proof of a greater depth of understanding in an exciting, creative
understanding than an A level. These are and enjoyable way. You will experience
available in several subjects. different styles of learning in different
settings, often in a more adult environment.
● From September 2008, you may be able
Fact bite to do a Diploma in Creative & Media;
Construction & the Built Environment;
Currently, 77% of young people continue
Engineering; Information Technology or
in full-time education or training beyond Society, Health & Development. Find out
the age of 16. whether any of these Diplomas will be on
offer in your area.
● By 2013, you will be able to take one of
Phil is currently in Year 13 and taking A levels in applied subjects 14 different Diplomas at Levels 1, 2 and
A levels in English literature, physical ● A levels are also available in a wide 3 covering all the sectors of the economy.
education and ICT. Since the end range of applied subjects, for example They will sit alongside, and sometimes
of Year 12, Phil has really enjoyed applied art and design, applied business, incorporate, A levels and GCSEs.
studying English and has developed applied ICT, applied science, engineering, ● Diplomas will give you the essential
a flair for creative writing. With health and social care, leisure studies, knowledge and personal skills that you
this interest, Phil is keen to pursue media communication and production, will need for college, university or work
a career as a writer, although is performing arts, and travel and tourism. and help you make choices about what
unsure in which area this would be. career you want to follow.
● They involve assessments to measure
He has done some research on the skills and coursework to examine ● Diplomas will offer you a mix of theoretical
internet and has had discussions with understanding. and practical learning, including functional
his English teacher. He is realistic that
● They provide practical skills and an skills in English, mathematics and ICT, and
becoming a published writer is tough
understanding of what it’s like to have personal learning and thinking skills, such
and has therefore decided to continue
a job. as independent enquiry, creative thinking
with his education. After Year 13,
● They can be taught in schools or in or team working.
he is planning to go to university
to study for an English degree. conjunction with local colleges and ● Through the additional/specialist learning
training providers. part of your Diploma you will get the
This will not only give him
opportunities to get involved in ● Entry requirements may be more ﬂexible opportunity to study a particular topic
creative writing, but will also give than for academic A levels – check with in more depth or broaden your studies
him further qualifications and widen sixth forms or colleges. through complementary learning. This
his career possibilities when he has could include GCSEs or A levels.
finished studying. Phil’s ambition is
● You will also take on an extended project
still to become a writer, but he knows
that by continuing in education,
Hot tip as part of your Diploma, which will allow
you to plan and organise your own learning.
his English degree could take him English, mathematics and ICT are really At Level 3 the project will demonstrate
in many different directions. important subjects, as you will need project management and other higher skills
‘I might even continue to study these in all areas of work and daily life. that you need for university.
at a postgraduate level after my
degree. I think as long as you pick ● Your Diploma, at whatever level, will also
subjects you know you are going include at least 10 days of work experience.
to enjoy, do your research to see Find out whether 14–19 Diplomas are
if your career idea is realistic and available at your school or college. For more
have a back-up plan, then getting information, talk to your school/college or
qualifications will always be useful.’ speak to your Connexions personal adviser.
Your Local 14–19 Prospectus lists all the
courses available in your area.
Qualiﬁcations Section 2 7
National Vocational Qualiﬁcations (NVQs)
● There are more than 900 NVQs, designed for people interested
in gaining practical skills and knowledge in a speciﬁc industry,
for example beauty therapy, travel services, veterinary nursing or
● They are work-related qualiﬁcations that reﬂect the knowledge
and skills required to do a job effectively.
● There are no formal entry requirements, although you need to
have experience of speciﬁc areas of work for the higher levels.
● There are ﬁve levels of NVQ. Most 16–19 year olds start on
Levels 1 to 3, depending on their experience and qualiﬁcations.
● Each level is divided into units of competence that cover different
aspects of work.
● NVQs are assessed through observation of practical tasks linked
to the work role and continual assessment through the creation
of a portfolio of evidence.
Vocationally Related Qualiﬁcations (VRQs)
● A wide range of other vocationally related qualiﬁcations are
available from different awarding bodies, such as City & Guilds
and Edexcel BTEC.
These are the essential skills that will help you to be successful at
● They are designed to provide you with the relevant skills and work, in training, during study and in life.
knowledge needed for your chosen vocational area, for example
in subjects like food hygiene, hospitality and public services. Key skills cover:
● They are work-related qualiﬁcations that vary in length, from
● working with others
short programmes to a BTEC First Diploma, which is roughly the
same size and at the same level as four GCSEs (A-C). ● application of number
● improving your own learning
● They have a practical approach to learning, and are made up of
● Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
units and modules that are assessed through assignments. You
will build a portfolio of evidence of your knowledge, skills and ● problem solving
understanding of your chosen work area. ● business and customer awareness.
Key skills are:
● recognised qualiﬁcations, which you take alongside
Functional skills other qualiﬁcations
Good language, mathematics and IT skills are essential for adult ● assessed through a portfolio of evidence and a test
life and are important to employers. So, in the future, these skills in communication, application of number and ICT, and
will be part of all qualiﬁcations – including GCSEs, Diplomas a portfolio of evidence only for working with others,
and Apprenticeships – and will be available as stand-alone improving your own learning and problem solving
qualiﬁcations. Functional skills are being tested out in some
● linked to your chosen area of study
schools and colleges from September 2007. They will be taught
as part of Diploma programmes when they start in 2008 and ● offered in colleges and for those taking work-related
as part of the other qualiﬁcations from 2010. learning programmes.
For more information, visit W www.keyskills4u.com
8 Section 2 Qualiﬁcations
Action point 4
Get a friend to analyse something that you do linked to each key skill area.
Discuss your ideas, and swap roles and feelings:
Application of number
Working with others
Improving your own learning
You may have the option of doing an International Baccalaureate
Diploma Programme. Aimed at 16–19 year olds, the programme
leads to an International Baccalaureate, which is widely recognised
by universities around the world. It aims to help develop the
intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills that you 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. You also have to study a
Qualiﬁcations Section 2 9
Progression routes National Qualiﬁcation Framework
19+ Qualiﬁcation Level Examples of
level indicators qualiﬁcations at
Employment Degrees/Foundation Degrees/Foundation this level
degrees at university degrees/job speciﬁc
training courses in Building a basic Entry Level certiﬁcates
Entry Level level of knowledge, at Levels 1, 2 or 3, in a
further education (FE)
understanding and skills. range of areas including
16–19 subjects, life skills,
Other Advanced Level 3 A levels functional skills, and skills
work-based Apprenticeships Diploma for working life.
Apprenticeships Level 1 and 2 Baccalaureate Basic knowledge, All GCSE grades D-G;
Level 1 understanding and skills, 14–19 Diploma Level 1;
Diploma also and the ability to apply Award Scheme
available learning to everyday Development and
situations. Accreditation Network
Functional skills in all learning routes (ASDAN) Level 1
and key skills Level 1;
14–16 Vocationally Related
Other work-related Level 2 Diploma GCSEs Qualiﬁcation (VRQ) Level
learning (equivalent to ﬁve/ 1, for example: BTEC
Introductory or City &
six GCSEs A*-C) Guilds Level 1; National
(NVQ) Level 1.
Young Foundation Level 1 Diploma
Apprenticeships Learning Tier Building knowledge All GCSE grades A*-C;
Level 2 and/or skills in relation to 14–19 Diploma Level
subject or sector areas; 2; functional and key
With so many qualiﬁcations it can be hard to understand how they gaining the ability to skills Level 2; VRQ Level
relate to one another. The National Qualiﬁcations Framework (NQF) apply learning to a 2, for example: City &
varied range of tasks. Guilds Level 2 or BTEC
is a way of comparing different qualiﬁcations by grouping them This is seen as the First Certiﬁcates and
together in nine different levels (Entry Level and Levels 1 to 8). minimum level required Diplomas; NVQ Level 2.
Qualiﬁcations of the same level in the NQF all recognise a similar by employers and is
critical to going on to
level of knowledge, skills and understanding, even though the further study and higher
subjects that are studied may be different. The higher the level, skill levels.
the more advanced the qualiﬁcation and the more knowledge and
skill it requires. Look at the table opposite to ﬁnd out how different Learning at this level All GCE AS and A levels;
Level 3 involves in-depth Advanced Extension
knowledge, Awards; 14–19 Diploma
understanding and skills, Level 3; functional and
and a higher level of key skills Level 3; VRQ
application. Appropriate Level 3, for example:
for people who want to Foundation Diploma in
go into higher education Art and Design or BTEC
or further training or National Certiﬁcates
employment. and Diplomas; NVQ
Level 3; International
Specialist learning Certiﬁcates and
Levels 4–8 involving a high level of Diplomas of Higher
knowledge in a speciﬁc Education; Bachelor’s
occupational role or degrees; postgraduate
study. Appropriate for qualiﬁcations;
people working in or professional
wishing to progress to qualiﬁcations; Foundation
specialised technical and degrees; Higher
professional roles, which National Certiﬁcates and
can involve managing Diplomas; key skills Level
and developing others. 4; NVQ Levels 4 and 5.
10 Section 3 What to study and where
What to study
To get the most out of full-time Does the assessment
education it’s important to choose method suit you?
the right courses and qualiﬁcations. ● Different courses are assessed in different
You are now ready to think about ways. They may contain one or more of
the following assessment methods: exams,
what to study and where. Thinking coursework, project work and observation
about the following points will help of performance or a portfolio of evidence.
you towards making a decision. Find out how the course is assessed.
Rose is about to take her A level
exams in Spanish, history and
What are you good at
English, and already has an AS level Will the learning style suit you?
in philosophy. Rose is an academic
and what do you enjoy?
● Different courses have different
student and knew that she would ● Most people do better when they study a approaches to work. They may involve
always continue with her education subject they enjoy. You may already have listening to lectures, being involved
and gain further qualifications. ideas about subjects that interest you. in discussions, practical work with an
She plans to go to university to Discuss them with your form tutor, subject employer or in a work-type environment,
study for a Spanish degree. She teachers and Connexions personal adviser. or writing essays. Find out how the course
enjoys languages and hopes that is taught.
she will eventually be able to use her
language skills in her future career. Should you take a new subject or
To help plan for going into higher continue an existing one? Do you have good
education, Rose researched her ● Your decisions may already be linked to organisational skills?
degree options. She checked the a chosen career path as some careers
entry requirements for courses ● Most courses involve deadlines. Are you
require certain subjects. However, you able to organise yourself effectively to
and found out what subjects were are likely to ﬁnd a variety of new subjects
needed. She also found out what complete and hand work in on time or do
available to study after Year 11. If you are you need support with this?
past Spanish degree students interested and willing to learn, you may
have gone on to do after their not need previous experience. If you are
courses. She found the UCAS unsure about your future career, choose
website a good starting point, subjects which will give you enough Where will the course lead?
as this has links to further sites breadth to make the right decisions later. ● Will the course help you to enter the
and university homepages. career or higher education course you
Rose also did some work experience have in mind? Find out the progression
in Spain at a restaurant, which Fact bite routes. If you are undecided about your
she found useful for improving her long-term ambitions, choose subjects that
Learning pays off! On average a
language skills and plans to do will keep your options open.
young person getting ﬁve or more good
some more over the summer. Rose’s
GCSEs earns over £100,000 more during
advice to students in Year 11 is:
their lifetime than someone who leaves
‘Make sure you’ve done your research learning with qualiﬁcations below Level 2.
before choosing your A levels and
ask what will this subject lead to?
Make sure your subject choices
are realistic to your abilities.’ Visit the interactive version of It’s your choice at
What to study and where Section 3 11
Now you know what you want Action point 6 Amy is currently in Year 12 and
to study. You just need to decide is taking AS levels in history, ICT
Many schools and colleges offer similar and photography. Amy wasn’t
where you want to study. courses, so you may need to consider the sure what to do after Year 11, and
following factors when deciding where ended up moving on to the school
The choices are: you would like to go: sixth form mainly because most of
her friends were. Halfway through
● school sixth form ● Look at the school or college Year 12, however, Amy realised
prospectus and website. that she wasn’t enjoying her studies
● sixth form college
● Talk to your careers and really wanted to move on
● further education (FE) college co-ordinator/Connexions to do a more practical course.
● specialist college, for example for music personal adviser. With this in mind, Amy looked
or agriculture. through the local college prospectus
● Get a list of school/college open
and has applied to do a City &
You may be able to study at a combination days – choose those of interest.
Guilds motor vehicle course to
of these. Each institution is different, so ● Attend the open days – look around train to be a mechanic. She opted
you need to decide which would suit you and talk to people. for this as her Dad is a mechanic
best. Further education colleges may offer a and she has already spent time
greater range of qualiﬁcations, or they may ● Make more than one application to with him fixing and repairing
specialise in a particular area of work. keep your options open and to give cars and enjoyed the work.
you a back-up plan.
Your Local 14–19 Prospectus will list all Looking back, Amy wishes she had
the courses available in your area and is gone straight to college after Year 11,
available online. as she has found out that learning
in a more practical way suits her
If you are worried about studying and better. However, she won’t have
Action point 5 ﬁnances, turn to the What about money? had a wasted year as she will have
section on pages 24–26. her AS level qualifications as well.
Find out how to access your
Local 14–19 Prospectus at If you are deciding between going
W www.dcsf.gov.uk/14-19 to college and staying on at school,
For more information speak to your Fact bite it’s important to explore all the
Connexions personal adviser or careers options. Make sure you choose a
co-ordinator. You can apply to more than one sixth course that matches the way you
form or college. This will give you more learn best and choose a subject that
My Local 14–19 Prospectus is available
time to decide which one is right for you. you enjoy. Amy has learnt: ‘Don’t
online at the following web address:
Research your options carefully. stay on just because your friends
are – make sure it’s right for you.’
12 Section 3 What to study and where
Specialist colleges Foundation degrees
There are different types of specialist ● Foundation degrees are higher education
Ashleigh is about to finish in the college. Some of them: qualiﬁcations and have been developed
sixth form and complete her A level in partnership with employers. They will
exams in ICT and philosophy. After ● offer courses in specialist subject areas,
for example in horticulture, creative arts, develop the skills and knowledge that
this, she plans to go to a local further employers are looking for.
education college to do a Foundation music or agriculture
degree in hospitality management. ● offer specialist courses to students with ● They can be studied at college, university,
Ashleigh has had some experience speciﬁc, additional needs or disabilities. in the workplace or, in some cases,
in this area, helping her Dad, who through distance learning.
is a chef, and organising buffets for There may not be an appropriate specialist
large events. She wants to continue college near your home. This would mean ● Entry requirements vary between
with her education, but would like a doing a lot of travelling or living in or near institutions and across subjects, but
course that is going to be practical college during the week in term time. Some Level 3 qualiﬁcations and experience
and prepare her for a career path that courses are available only to people over the are often accepted.
she knows she would like to follow. age of 18. ● On completion of a Foundation degree,
Ashleigh researched the course by For more information, visit you can progress on to an honours degree
looking at the college prospectus, W http://moneytolearn.direct.gov.uk or gain professional qualiﬁcations.
going to the college open day, and W www.natspec.org.uk
contacting student advisers at the
college and gaining advice from her
Connexions personal adviser. It is a
two-year course and combines some Thinking about going into higher
theory and lecture work in college education
with at least a 20 week placement If you are aiming to go on to higher
with an employer in the first year. education (HE), it is important to check
‘I’m a people person and I want that your chosen subjects for Years 12
to use my personal skills in a and 13 match the entry requirements of
career; it’s what I’m good at. If I any HE courses that interest you. You can
do well on the work placement I research this information in the directories,
might even get offered a job.’ prospectuses and careers software in your
Connexions Resource Centre at school. You
At the end of the two years, Ashleigh can also talk to your careers co-ordinator or
could move on to university and Connexions personal adviser. You can ﬁnd
complete an extra year to top up her lots of information on the internet.
qualification to a full honours degree Visit W www.ucas.com for information
or go into the workplace and progress on courses. For answers to your questions
with her professional qualifications. about university life go to
W www.aimhigher.ac.uk/uni4me and
What to study and where Section 3 13
Action point 7
Points to consider
Everyone has different priorities when choosing a school or college. By getting to know yourself better, you will get
a good idea of what works for you.
Think about the following points. Star (*) the points that are important to you, and then tick them off when they have been checked:
The courses offered and whether they match your needs
The facilities available for students and learning
The opportunities for progression from the courses
Knowing the teaching staff/environment
The social life
Easy to get to
The right atmosphere for you
What the exam results are like
Opportunities to make new friends
If you ask the right questions you will be able to check how closely each school or college matches your own priorities.
Need additional help?
Having a disability should not stop you learning. If you think you may need extra help at school or college, mention it at the open days, on
your application forms or in interviews. For more information, see W www.direct.gov.uk/disabledpeople and W www.skill.org.uk
14 Section 4 Work and learning
Work and learning
If you are thinking about work,
you should try to choose a job
that offers you planned training
leading to nationally recognised
qualiﬁcations. Doing a job with
training gives you better long-term
prospects because many employers
Robert is currently in Year 12 and look for workers with higher level
is studying a BTEC First Diploma skills and qualiﬁcations.
in Hospitality at college. He is
very interested in a career in
the hospitality industry and is ● Work opportunities for people with no
particularly keen to train as a chef. skills or qualiﬁcations are decreasing. Possible routes for gaining work with
Robert chose to study a vocational ● Qualiﬁcations can help demonstrate your training include:
course at college because there are competencies and knowledge. ● Apprenticeships – where you work, earn
more opportunities to do practical
● Qualiﬁcations increase your chances of and learn
work. He doesn’t find written work
easy, but has excellent practical skills being offered a job by an employer. ● Entry to Employment (e2e) –
and felt that a vocational course would ● Qualiﬁcations give you more choice and a personalised training programme.
enable him to develop these skills. give you opportunities to move around
Robert is enjoying the course and has within the workplace. Other options include:
learnt about preparing food, cooking
and even silver service waiting: ● Gaining training and qualiﬁcations make ● self-employment –
you more able to do your job effectively where you work for yourself
‘I’ve learnt a lot about working in and therefore more likely to get promoted.
hospitality and we get to do quite ● studying or working abroad –
a lot of practical work. The college an option for people over 18.
has its own restaurants which the
students work in, and this way we
get really good experience. I’m
not so keen on the silver service,
but the cooking has been good.’
There has been theory work on
the course, but Robert has had
help in lessons from learning
support assistants, which has
made it easier to cope with.
Robert plans to continue at college
and is considering a BTEC National
Diploma in Hospitality Supervision,
or an NVQ in Professional Cookery
at Level 3. He hopes eventually
to have his own restaurant.
Work and learning Section 4 15
Apprenticeships – ten facts you need to know
After his GCSEs, Ryan decided
1 There are different types of Apprenticeships, depending on your experience and
to continue with his studies and
the opportunities in your area.
completed two AS level qualifications
2 All Apprenticeships include: an NVQ at either Level 2 or 3; key skills qualiﬁcations, at his school sixth form. By the end
for example working with others, problem solving and communication; a technical of Year 12, he felt that he wanted to
certiﬁcate such as a BTEC or City & Guilds (in most cases); or other qualiﬁcations start earning money for himself rather
according to your occupation. than continuing with academic study.
3 Apprenticeships can also be a stepping-stone to higher education courses, such as Ryan went to his Connexions personal
Higher National Diplomas, Foundation degrees and many degrees. adviser in school and asked about the
Apprenticeship route, where he could
4 There are no set entry requirements for Apprenticeships. However, for some more learn, work towards qualifications
technical Apprenticeships you may need GCSE grades A*-C in mathematics, English and earn money at the same time.
and science. You need to be living in England, aged 16–24 and not in full-time Having previously completed and
education. enjoyed some work experience at a
local hair salon, Ryan investigated
5 Apprenticeships usually last between 12 and 24 months, depending on your ability this as an Apprenticeship option.
and your employer’s needs. Some Apprenticeships can last several years.
‘I spoke to my Connexions personal
6 You will get on-the-job training from your employer and will also spend time with adviser and some of my teachers,
a learning provider. Your Apprenticeship will include anything from 100 to 1,000 who gave me lots of help. I
hours of study, depending on your occupation. contacted the salon where I did
my Year 10 work experience and
7 Earnings vary, but if you are employed and on a Learning and Skills Council (LSC)
they offered me a trainee position
funded Apprenticeship in England, you must receive a minimum income of £80 per
where I could learn on the job
week. You will also be laying down a great foundation for your future.
and get a nationally recognised
8 You will receive at least 20 days’ holiday a year. qualification at the same time.’
9 There are two ways to apply for an Apprenticeship. You can approach (or send your Ryan says that the Apprenticeship
CV to) an employer who takes on Apprentices and see if they are willing to accept route really suited him. He
you. Alternatively, you can apply through local and national training providers enjoyed learning in a more
who will try to match you with an employer. Your Connexions personal adviser can practical way and now has a skill
provide you with a list of contacts. that he can take anywhere.
‘I am a junior hair stylist now and I’ve
10 You may have to attend interviews and/or take tests before you are accepted for got my NVQ Level 2 in Hairdressing.
an Apprenticeship. It’s a great skill to have. I can even
earn a bit of extra money doing
To ﬁnd out more, talk to your careers co-ordinator or Connexions personal adviser. my friends’ and family’s hair!’
Call T 08000 150 600 or visit W www.apprenticeships.org.uk
16 Section 4 Work and learning
When Sam left school he didn’t
know what he wanted to do: ‘I had
no motivation and everyone just
kept on at me to do something,
but I had no idea what.’
Sam’s Mum eventually persuaded him
to go to his local Connexions centre,
where he spoke to a personal adviser
about Entry to Employment (e2e). He
started the programme and felt better
for getting back into a regular routine.
‘It was fun. I got to mix with people
my own age again and I was more
willing to do things because it was
my choice to go.’
On e2e, Sam worked towards
Entry to Employment (e2e) ● e2e is a way for you to try different areas
improving his mathematics and
English, as well as his personal and
If you know that you want to gain work with
training, but you don’t feel quite ready to take ● It is a programme that could lead you
social skills. He had practical sessions,
such as drama-based workshops, into employment with training, an
the Apprenticeship or job-search routes, then
to help improve self-esteem. Apprenticeship or further education.
Entry to Employment (e2e) could be just what
The tutors were very supportive and you need. ● There may be some ﬁnancial help available
helped him think about going to for people on e2e.
college. He wanted to do something
● e2e is a ﬂexible programme tailored to
practical and was interested in
your individual needs. It includes team-
manufacturing and design. Now To ﬁnd out more, talk to your Connexions
building, job-search skills, career guidance,
Sam is in his first year of an NVQ personal adviser or visit
help with gaining and maintaining a job,
Level 1 in Engineering at college and
motivation and key skills. W www.connexions-direct.com
plans to get an Apprenticeship in
welding and fabrication afterwards. ● It helps develop your skills and build your
‘I would recommend e2e to conﬁdence to help you to prepare for the
anyone who is not sure what they world of work.
want to do. Don’t stop working
and don’t let yourself get into Look at the jobs4u careers database at
the trap of doing nothing.’ W www.connexions-direct.com/jobs4u
Work and learning Section 4 17
Studying or working abroad
Once you are 18, there are opportunities to study abroad.
If you are keen to plan ahead, contact Connect Youth on
T 020 7389 4030 and see W www.britishcouncil.org/
connectyouth.htm for details of international student exchanges.
Eurodesk has information on funding opportunities for study
overseas on T 0131 313 2488 and W www.eurodesk.org.uk
Still looking ahead, there may be opportunities to work abroad
when you are older. Visit W www.careerseurope.co.uk for
more information. Check W http://europa.eu.int for job
vacancies in Europe and W www.citizens.eu.org for
information on European countries.
Action point 8
Time Off for Study and Training (TfST)
Things to do next checklist:
If you have found a job that doesn’t offer training, you could qualify
Do I have any useful contacts?
for Time Off for Study and Training (TfST). If you are 16 or 17,
did not get any Level 2 qualiﬁcations★ at school and are not in full-
time education, you are entitled to reasonable paid 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. Who are they?
Find out more at your local Connexions centre or visit
★ This means:
● GCSEs at grades A*-C How can they help me?
● an NVQ Level 2
● certain other qualiﬁcations, for example BTEC First Diploma.
What shall I do next?
You may be thinking that you would like to become self-employed
(work for yourself). This is fairly unusual for school leavers. You will
need a great business idea and must be prepared to work hard.
Your school may offer enterprise workshops or the chance for you
to take on a project or set up and run your own real company at
school. Your school may also offer opportunities to get involved in
national projects, such as Young Enterprise W www.young-
enterprise.org.uk, YoungBiz W www.youngbizuk.co.uk and
Shell LiveWIRE W www.shell-livewire.org
Help is available through local Education Business Partnerships
– ﬁnd yours through W www.nebpn.org/aboutus.htm
Help is available through Business Link on T 0845 600 9006
or W www.businesslink.gov.uk. As well as offering training
in the business skills you will need, they can link you with lots of
useful contacts. Help is also available from The Prince’s Trust on
T 0800 842 842 and W www.princes-trust.org.uk. The Make
Your Mark Challenge is a national online enterprise challenge – see
18 Section 5 Applications and interviews
CV stands for Curriculum Vitae. A CV is a brief description of what
you offer in the way of skills, qualiﬁcations and interests, and gives
the employer an overall picture of you as a potential employee.
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: names of the schools that you have attended. Write
the most recent ﬁrst.
● Qualiﬁcations: titles and grades of all courses taken.
● Work experience: name of employer(s), dates of work and a brief
description of duties.
● Interests and hobbies.
● References: two people who know you (not relatives), who can
Whether you are applying for a college course, describe you honestly and hopefully positively.
training course or for a job, you will need to think
how to go about ﬁlling out an application form,
Letter of application
writing a CV or preparing for an interview. This As with any letter you may write, the format is as follows:
section offers you information and useful tips. ● Introductory paragraph: you introduce yourself and your reason
for writing (to tell the employer that you have sent them your CV
Job searching or application form).
● If you are looking for a job the best place to start is your local ● Middle (or development) paragraphs: you tell the employer why
Connexions centre. They will be able to tell you about any you want the job, some information about yourself and what you
vacancies speciﬁcally for school leavers. You can talk to a could bring to the job.
Connexions personal adviser.
● Last (or concluding) paragraph: you explain any actions that
● It is also a good idea to check the jobs pages of you have made or would like to request, for example, ‘I have
your local newspapers. enclosed my CV’ or ‘I would be grateful if you could send me
an application form’.
● You can search the websites of individual companies or
organisations to see if they are advertising any vacancies.
There are also general job-search websites on the internet.
● You could also try the speculative approach. This involves
writing directly to employers when no job has been advertised.
You need to send in your CV with a covering letter to the human Visit the interactive version of It’s your choice at
resources department, asking if there are any vacancies. Many www.connexions-direct.com/itsyourchoice
companies do not respond to this approach.
Applications and interviews Section 5 19
Action point 9
Imagine you are completing a letter of application and a CV. Fill in the dotted areas
here and overleaf with your own ideas.
H. Sons Ltd
43 Sandy Lane
Dear Mrs Davis,
Re: The post of
Ha mmerhill Mail on 14 June.
which was adver tised in the
I am writing to apply for the
I am ver y interested in this
because I enjoy
I think I would be suitable
I would be ver y grateful if
I look for ward to hearing fro
[Print your name]
20 Section 5 Applications and interviews
Action point 9 (continued)
PERSONAL PROFILE :
[Name of school]
QUALIFICATIONS : [Grade] [Subject]
Applications and interviews Section 5 21
Completing application forms Interviews
● Application forms are given to prospective employees so that Going for a work or college interview gives you a chance to meet an
everybody answers the same questions. The employers will judge admissions tutor or employer face-to-face. The interviewer has the
whether your answers ﬁt with their organisation. opportunity to talk to you and decide how well you will ﬁt in, and
● Complete the application form in pencil ﬁrst to avoid mistakes, or you will be encouraged to ask any questions you may have. It will
practise on a photocopy ﬁrst. help if you follow these steps.
● Think carefully about what you are being asked and make sure
you answer the questions fully and truthfully. Before you go for the interview:
● Always write clearly, neatly and in black ink. Return it by the ● Boost your conﬁdence by preparing well. Find out about the
closing date. organisation or college. Read any information they have sent you
and look at their website.
● Keep a copy of the completed form, so that you can re-read it
before you go to the interviews. ● Plan how you are going to get to the interview to make sure you
can arrive in plenty of time.
● If you are sending in supporting evidence, like a CV, make sure
all the pages are clipped together securely. ● 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 you will wear and make an effort to look smart.
● Some employers and colleges may ask to see examples of your
Fact bite work. Take time to prepare a well-presented portfolio which you
can take to the interview.
On average, recruiters take less than half a minute to look
● Think about your health and safety. Always tell somebody
at each CV. Make sure you make a good impact with a well-
where you are going. Never agree to meet anyone who suggests
presented and informative CV.
holding the interview in their car or a café.
During the interview:
● Sit up straight and make sure you give the interviewer/s lots of
Hot tip eye contact.
● Smile and be polite. It is important to make a good impression
Find out more about writing CVs, ﬁlling out application forms on everyone you meet.
and searching for jobs in the Work and Training ● Listen carefully to what you are being asked and then think
section of your school’s Connexions Resource Centre and at before you answer.
● Always tell the truth.
● If you need to sit an aptitude test during your interview, you
should be told of this in advance.
22 Section 6 Experience needed
Lots of employers are looking for You can also try work shadowing (being
workers with relevant experience. alongside someone while they are doing a
speciﬁc role). Try to ﬁnd contacts through
Relevant experience is also required family and friends.
to get a place on some higher
Part-time or holiday work
education courses. Getting a part-time job or holiday work will
build your employability skills. Sometimes
Most schools organise work experience
they can even lead to permanent jobs.
in Year 10 or 11, often with the help of
Ryan is currently studying a BTEC outside agencies. Your school, probably with Voluntary work
First Diploma in Health and Social outside expert help, will make sure that your There are many ways in which you could do
Care. As part of the course he placement is safe, and will probably help to voluntary work, some of which may offer
recently undertook a period of ﬁnd a suitable business for you. opportunities for accreditation.
work experience at a residential
care home for the elderly. Ryan was
The beneﬁts of experience: ● Vinspired – helps people aged 16–25
already interested in a career in ● it gives you an insight into the world of work to ﬁnd volunteering opportunities. Visit
the care sector, but was undecided ● it enables you to ‘taste’ different work areas W www.vinspired.com
which job he would like to do: ● it gives a positive message to future ● The Prince’s Trust – runs a range of
‘I had done some work experience at employers about you, especially if you programmes for people aged 14–30 and
a nursery in Year 10 which I enjoyed, have gained encouraging reports aims to build conﬁdence, motivation and
but on the course we had been ● it may help you to make decisions team-building skills. Courses last between
learning about working with the about your future one and six months, locally and further
elderly and I thought this sounded aﬁeld. Call T 0800 842 842 or visit
● you gain transferable skills
good as well. I decided to try it out.’ W www.princes-trust.org.uk
● you gain an understanding of the expectations
Ryan spent a very successful few when you are working with others. ● The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award –
weeks at the residential home and is for people aged 14–25 and offers three
But how do you get experience? levels of award: bronze, silver and gold.
his employer was impressed with Speak to your school staff member who
his attitude. He received a very The award is split into service and skills.
organises work experience, your careers Visit W www.theaward.org
good report and it confirmed his
co-ordinator or Connexions personal adviser.
interest in working with the elderly: ● Youth Parliament – is aimed at people
‘I’m really pleased I did the work Work experience aged 11–18, has over 300 elected
experience. Now I know what the Although you probably won’t get paid, the members and works just like the real
work is like and what’s involved. new skills you gain and new contacts you parliament. Your views could be heard
I enjoyed it and it made me think make will be very valuable to you when you by politicians and organisations. Visit
I’d like to do it as a career.’ are applying for work or for a college place in W www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk
the future. This is less common for school leavers, but at
Ryan is now planning to apply for
an Apprenticeship in a residential 18 some students have a gap year before
home when he leaves sixth form and moving into higher education. This means
he will continue his training on the taking a year off to study, work or travel,
job. Having some experience of the
Hot tip at home or abroad, before beginning their
work will be regarded very positively higher education course. You can ﬁnd out
Keep any information you have about
by employers and should help him more at your local Connexions centre
your work experience – reports, dates,
to find a suitable placement. or visit W www.yearoutgroup.org or
letters about your performance, etc. You
could use these in your portfolio or when W www.connexions-direct.com
you write your CV.
Work in a changing world Section 7 23
Work in a
The world of work is in a constant ● Gain Level 2 qualiﬁcations, if you haven’t
and rapid state of change. already done so, to improve your chances
to progress at work.
Developments in technology and
business practices, and changes in ● Have a good work ethic and have key
work skills, for example, be committed,
the labour market, mean that the
reliable, punctual, polite and smart. Also,
way we work is changing. be willing to work as a team member and
to accept instructions.
When you join the world of work, Keelan is interested in a career in
you will need to: ● Develop good communication skills and
sport and is keen on coaching. He is
currently studying BTEC First Diplomas
● Continually keep your skills and
Lifelong learning in both Sport and Leisure and Tourism.
knowledge up to date.
The best way to deal with change is to carry Keelan has a hearing impairment
● Be prepared to develop and offer on improving your knowledge and developing and uses hearing aids. He is
employers a range of skills, rather than your skills throughout your life – learning very determined and has never
just one or two. doesn’t end when you leave school! This is allowed his difficulties to affect
called lifelong learning. his plans. He participates in a
● Be ﬂexible in your working arrangements
– this could involve working part time or wide range of sports and is a
Hot tip keen football and cricket player.
with part-time workers, home-working,
self-employment and working around You may ﬁnd it useful to create a Keelan has undertaken work
other commitments. portfolio of evidence – a folder experience. In Year 10 he spent time
of evidence that you can show to working at a local primary school
● Develop good IT skills, not only because teaching physical education and
employers/tutors at interviews. This
of the importance of e-mail and use of was so successful that he received
could include certiﬁcates, references/
the internet, but also for things such as a local award for Achievement in
testimonials (written reports about you),
e-conferencing, and e-learning. Work Experience. He has worked
examples of work and letters written to
congratulate or thank you. in a hotel as part of his leisure and
tourism course, and also helps to
coach younger students in football.
Action point 10 He is currently working towards his
Community Sports Leadership Award.
What do you think employers are looking for in an employee? ‘I have enjoyed all the work
Write some of your thoughts here: experience placements I’ve had. I
found it useful to learn more about
the job, to see if I’d like to do it in the
future. I like working with younger
students and have decided I would
What could you offer an employer? like to do coaching as a career.’
Keelan plans to progress on to the
BTEC National Diploma in Sport
next year. He plans to continue
coaching and will undertake further
work experience in Year 13.
24 Section 8 What about money?
What about money?
Having considered all your options, ● Available to help you to buy course-related
you now need to turn your attention equipment, pay for travel costs and other
● Paid directly into your bank account,
The National Minimum Wage is very during term time.
important because it is a set of laws which ● Awarded if you fulﬁl the income criteria
are in place to protect nearly all people who and are doing, or applying to do, at least
work. It sets rates per hour worked and 12 hours of guided learning each week on
Anna is approaching the end of Year employers are not allowed to pay below one of the programmes mentioned above.
13 and is studying A levels in biology, these rates.
geography and ICT. She plans to ● Awarded for the length of your course
move on to university after this to From October 2007, the national minimum – two to three years. In return, you must
study conservation and ecology, wage rate for 16–17 year olds is £3.40 per demonstrate a commitment to your
as she would like a career that is hour; for 18–21 year olds it is £4.60 per course/training programme, by regular
based on geographical sciences. hour. The minimum wage does not apply to attendance and fulﬁlling all the course
Apprentices under 19 and their pay can vary deadlines.
Throughout Years 12 and 13 Anna (see page 15).
has benefited from receiving ● Able to reward your commitment with
a full Education Maintenance bonus payments.
Allowance (EMA) of £30 a week,
which provided financial support Education Maintenance For information, visit
during her two years of study. Allowance (EMA) W www.direct.gov.uk
‘Having an EMA has helped me with If you decide to stay on in full-time
transport costs as well as paying for education or training, or join an e2e course
textbooks and extra revision aids.’ or a Programme Led Pathways learning
Not only does Anna receive £30 programme that leads to an Apprenticeship,
a week, but she also gets bonus you may be eligible for an Education
payments for attendance and Maintenance Allowance (EMA). The EMA is:
achievement in her subjects, ● A weekly payment of up to £30 per week.
which she feels has helped
her commitment too. ● Awarded dependent upon your household
income, which has to be less than £30,810
‘EMA provides me with that
extra bit of motivation to attend
all my lessons; I also see it as ● Awarded to about half of all 16 year olds
a sufficient reward for all my in the UK who are continuing in full-time
hard work and studying.’ education or training.
If you are worried about money and
are eligible, an EMA may be able to
help you out. Not only can it motivate
you, but it can also provide much
needed financial support for things
You will need a bank account because
like books and travel, enabling you to
your EMA is paid directly into your
continue in education after Year 11.