GCSE Results - The Options

Thousands of 16 year olds across Sussex and Surrey are getting their GCSE results today and it is expected to be another record year.

Education experts are predicting that nationally, just under a quarter of papers will be awarded at least an A grade and around 8% are likely to be graded A*.

So now all the hard work is out of the way, it is decision time, and there are lots of learning options open to your teenagers here in Sussex and Surrey whether they got the results they wanted/needed or not.

First they must decide HOW they want to learn, whether it is paper-based like A-levels and the International baccalaureate, or in a more hands-on way through an apprenticeship or a vocational qualification.

Here we run through some of the learning routes and qualifications they could take, and where you can find out more information.

Decisions, decisions....

AS or A-Levels - At least four GCSEs at grade A to C are generally needed to go on to study A-levels, but you should check with your child's sixth forms or local college. They can study a wide range of subjects including Maths, Geography, English, Media, Law or Accounting.

International Baccalaureate - The IB is an internationally recognised course which offers a wider range of subjects than A-levels, with the aim of giving pupils a more rounded education. During a two year course, pupils take six subjects in all, three at standard level and three at higher level. Top marks in the Baccalaureate are the equivalent of seven top grade A-levels. Previously only studied at private schools, the IB is now available at 190 schools across the UK.

Diplomas - These are less classroom based than A-levels and offer practical learning and training, and provide work-orientated skills. Diploma subjects include engineering, hair and beauty studies, travel and tourism and retail business, with pupils also learning English, maths and technology skills. They should qualify students to go into a range of skilled jobs or on to university.
Vocational Qualifications - These kinds of qualifications are ideal for teenagers who know what job they want to do or which industry they want to work in. NVQs include training and assessment, usually through on-the-job-observation. They can be based in a college or school, a work environment, or a combination. BTECs are broader and offer a mix of theory and practice. They have been created with the help of industry, and are usually studied full-time in college, with an element of work experience. These prepare you to go into work or higher education and are roughly equivalent to an A-level.

Apprenticeships - If your teenagers do not want to continue with an academic element to learning, they could apply for an apprenticeship - they are available in more than 190 roles across a wide variety of industries including accountancy,business administration, construction, engineering and manufacturing. They will be based with a company, earning a wage and learning on the job, but will also have days off to study nationally recognised qualifications at college.

Help and Advice - Numbers and Websites

If your teenager can't decide what to do next or needs some more advice, they could visit their local Connexions centre.

Connexions is an information service especially for 13 to 19 year olds. It has qualified advisers on hand to talk through the options and help search for courses or jobs.

Visit the website or call 0800 432 0207 to find the nearest centre to you.

Teenagers can also call the free Exam Results Helpline, run by UCAS, on 0808 100 8000.

Advisers offer expert and independent information and advice on further or higher education, vocational learning routes, taking a gap year or finding employment. It is open 9am-7pm on Thursday 25th August and then 9am-5pm on Friday 26th and Saturday 27th.

There are lots of helpful links and articles on the Government website DirectGov. You can also find out about funding, gap years, internships and work experience.

southern strike map RMT Southern Rail Strike

Southern Railway workers stage final day of a 72-hour walkout today in the bitter dispute over the role of conductors, with further industrial action planned.

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