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Careers, Guided Choices and 16+

Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance at St Clere's School (CAIG)

Mr P Margiotta: p.margiotta.scs@stcleres.coop or 01375 641001

We place a great emphasis on ensuring that our students get Careers Information, Advice and Guidance throughout their time here, but particularly at key transition moments. We aim to empower our learners so they can apply their acquired skills or knowledge and confidently express themselves throughout their lives and future careers.

We have a dedicated Careers Lead, Mr Margiotta, who is available Monday to Friday. He is based in the Careers Library (Humanities 7) and can be contacted he email address or telephone number above. Mr Margiotta tracks pupil intentions and guides each of them towards the courses which would best suit their aspirations. He can also make arrangements for pupils to see an independent careers advisor.

Our curriculum provides suitable careers-related activities for each year group. For example:

  • Citizenship and Personal Development (CPD) provides guidance on career pathways and written English assist pupils in creating effective CVs.

  • We run a Careers Week Focus in the summer term to provide information about apprenticeships, pathway options and a Mock Interview day.

  • Year 10 pupils attend Your Thurrock Careers Event annually.

  • Students take part in the Thurrock Next Top Boss programme.

  • All pupils in year 11 receive a careers interview with an independent advisor.

This section of our website is designed to provide information for pupils and parents/carers. If you have a question relating to any aspect of future choices and progression, please contact Mr Margiotta.

Guided Choices: Making Choices for GCSEs and Beyond

Making subject choices is often a scary and daunting thing… picking GCSEs or A levels, Sixth Form or College, University or Apprenticeship? These are all tough decisions individuals face at some point through their educational journey.

You need to make informed choices, so think about where you can get information that is reliable, accurate, up to date and impartial.

Often it is helpful to think about the bigger picture and work back from there – look at a job advert you think you might be interested in and see what qualifications the employers are looking for.  If it's a degree, look on UCAS for the university course you think you might want to do and check what the entry requirements are – each course and each university is different!

Often it is good to talk through your ideas with family and friends, your teachers - and do not forget, there are people in school to help you, too.

If, like most people, you have no idea what you want to do after education, follow your interests and passion, but keep your options open. Do not close any doors before they have even been opened!

Below are some common questions that pupils (and parents/carers) ask around Options time:

What GCSEs do I need to find a job?

When it comes to finding a job, most employers will look at your GCSE qualifications to see if the subjects that you studied are relevant to the type of work that they do. Although every job is different, most companies will expect you to have at least 5 GCSEs including English, Maths and Science from levels 9 - 5.

The vast majority of pupils continue their education either at Sixth Form or College. All pupils at 16 will be expected to gain a minimum of a level 4 in GCSE English and Maths, if that is not achieved it will not affect your progression but it means you will continue to study GCSE English and/or Maths (or another level 2 equivalent course) with your post-16 education provider or employer (in the case of apprenticeships).

How should I choose my GCSE subjects?

There’s no ‘right’ way to choose your GCSE options, but it does help if you think about your future when making your decisions. For example, it could be worth checking the entry requirements for post-16 study.

What career do I want to have?

You should also consider whether your chosen career will require you to get more qualifications in the future. For example, in order to become a doctor, you will also need to have A levels and then go on to study medicine at university. Although it may seem like a long way away, you might want to consider what qualifications you will need to get into university (if that’s your plan) because the subjects you take at GCSE level could have an impact.

Should I keep my GCSE options open?

On the other hand, if you do not have a clue what career you want in the future (like most pupils), then you should probably aim to keep your options open. Studying a range of subjects will provide you with a good overview of different topics and different ways of studying, which can help you identify what subjects you are best at.

Should I take the same GCSE subjects as my friends?

A lot of pupils make the mistake of choosing the same subjects as their friends. Although being in the same classes as your friends has its advantages, you should bear in mind that everybody is different and everyone has subjects that they are better at than others. Just because your friends are taking a certain subject that does not mean that you should take it too.

Should I choose my GCSE subjects based on who teaches it?

Although it can be tempting to choose your subjects based on which teacher you might get, we suggest that you resist. Everyone has their favourite teachers, but there is no guarantee on who you will get for your GCSEs. You should base your decisions on the subject itself, rather than the teacher who may (or may not) be teaching you.

How will my GCSEs affect my Future?

As a general rule, the more qualifications you gain throughout your life, the less important your GCSE options become. For example, if you end up studying at university and gaining a degree, potential employers are more likely to be interested in what you studied there, rather than what you studied when you were 16. However, for some careers specific grades at GCSE are very important. For example, in order to become a teacher you need a minimum 5 grade in English, Maths and a Science subject, regardless of any other qualifications.

However, everyone’s career path is different and you might decide that continuing in academic education just is not for you. If this is the case, you will want to have the best GCSE qualifications you can get in subjects that are most relevant to what you want to do.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that if you do leave school after your GCSEs, there nothing stopping you from going back into education in the future to study for A levels.

What are vocational subjects?

Vocational qualifications offer practical learning programmes that relate to specific job roles or employment sectors.

Link: Find out more about vocational subjects

What are facilitating subjects?

Facilitating subjects are those A level subjects which are more frequently required for (or, in other words, facilitate) university entry than others. Including at least two of these facilitating subjects in your A level choices will give you a wide range of degree courses to choose from.

Link: Find out more about facilitating subjects 

What can I do with A levels?

University, university, university! That is the only reason why you do A levels, right?

Well, it is a fantastic option, but A levels are not just a one-way ticket to university. It’s high time that we start acknowledging all of the options that A levels open up.

So, what you can do with your A levels?

Option 1: University

It is the traditional route and still a very good one. Degrees are not to be sniffed at and can be the ticket to some great career options. If you are set on going to university, you will need to do plenty of research into the degree courses and universities on offer, finding one that tallies with your interests and career plans. Tuition fees might seem like a lot, but there is plenty of financial support out there in the form of loans, bursaries and grants that you can take advantage of.

The long university holidays can be used to build up work experience, or you can opt for a sandwich degree course that involves a year spent working in industry. Degrees are great if you want to keep your career options open, access certain careers that are only open to graduates, or if you simply want to study a subject that you are passionate about. On average, graduates tend to get higher starting salaries and earn more over their lifetime.

However, university is not for everyone. Some people want to get stuck straight into work or are put off by the cost of university. There are other options where you can actually work for a company whilst gaining your degree.

Option 2: Sponsored Degree Programme

If you want to go to university but are daunted by the cost, sponsored degree programmes might be just the ticket. Sponsored degree programmes come in all shapes and sizes. For example, there are ones where you’ll attend university part-time whilst working for the company that foots your tuition fees.

Other sponsored degree programmes allow school leavers to study a course full-time at university, which has been devised by a consortium of employers or a single company in conjunction with the host institution.

On the plus side, sponsored degree programmes can offer you some much needed financial assistance to help fund your way through university. Particularly for those with work experience as part of the programme, they can help you build up a relationship with an employer and enhance your employment prospects after university. Sponsored degree programmes are not all sunshine and rainbows. They suffer from a lack of choice, only being available at a limited number of universities and covering a limited range of degree courses and career paths.

Option 3: Gap Year

You do not have to dive straight into university or permanent employment. If you’re a bit bewildered about your options, or just fancy some breathing space, a gap year might be right for you.

NotgoingtoUni  has a wealth of information on pathways after A levels that are not university-based.

It’s not just a year to kick back and do nothing, though; you will not impress many people doing that. Most people work for a bit and then go travelling. Many of the large companies, such as KPMG, Bank of England and IBM have gap year programmes for those wishing to get in a solid year of work experience.

Alternatively, you might want to volunteer in the UK or abroad, or use your time off to get plenty of work experience. This may even help you figure out which careers might interest you.

The key thing, if you do decide to do a gap year, is to make sure you do something worthwhile. Some universities and employers won’t look favourably on gap years where you have just spent your entire time in the clubs of South America. Try and make sure you have included some more valuable experiences in your gap year, as well as enjoying yourself.

Option 4: School Leaver Programme

If you want to leap straight into the world of work but still want to gain some serious qualifications, then a school leaver programme might be the thing for you. These schemes usually involve studying for a degree or professional qualification, whilst working for a company. As an employee, you will get a wage and they will cover your training costs. That means you can earn while you learn and avoid student debt.

School leaver programmes are designed to offer a genuine alternative to university. Entry onto a scheme can be very competitive. The big finance and accountancy firms dominate the school leaver programme market at the moment, but other opportunities can be found in industries like engineering, IT, retail, digital media and hospitality. Bear in mind, school leaver programmes are still relatively new and therefore are not common in most industries.

Option 5: Higher Apprenticeship

There is something else you can do with those A levels, and that’s a Higher Apprenticeship. These are the crème de la crème of apprenticeships. Higher Apprenticeships bear many similarities to school leaver programmes (in fact, many school leaver programmes include a Higher Apprenticeship as part of their training programme), but tend to be shorter.

Link: Find out more about higher apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships

You can also get qualifications like foundation degrees, HNDs and undergraduate degrees as part of a Higher Apprenticeship. Apprentices can usually top up their qualifications after the apprenticeship too.

Of course, some people bypass all of these options and plunge straight into employment.

It’s up to you to have a good think, do some research and work out the best option for you. Don’t just think about the short term. Try and imagine where you want to be in five or ten years, and figure out the best way to get there.

Writing Your CV

In today’s competitive jobs market, it’s more important than ever to make a good first impression. This can often be your CV, so it needs to be putting across the right messages, with the right presentation, and no mistakes.

When you have been in full-time education most of your life your qualifications will probably be your main achievement. If you do not have a lot of work experience, try to make your course work relevant to the skills you would use in the job. For example, you probably use time management, research and IT skills every day. You may also be able to say you are a fast learner, and are up to date with the latest equipment and techniques in your field.

The most important thing is to take your time over your CV – make sure it’s the best it can be.

You might want to leave it for a couple of days and then come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes.

Get it checked over by several people to see if they can spot anything you cannot - when you have been working on something for a long time, it can be difficult to see ways in which it can be improved.

With CVs, it’s easy to make a mistake, but very difficult to correct once you have submitted it and the damage has been done.

Some of the most common CV errors are:

  • Typing errors, poor spelling and grammar
  • Listing duties instead of achievements
  • Not tailoring your CV in relation to each job or type of job
  • Making it visually unappealing and difficult to read
  • Too long or too short - too much information or too little

 Great CV advice from external sources (click on the links):

www.monster.co.uk - Discover our checklist on what to include in a CV and how you should write it. Here are our top CV tips. View now, create the perfect CV and impress your future employer.

The Guardian newspaper - Katy Cowan gives her top tips on creating a memorable and readable CV.

successatschool.org - What are key skills? How can they help you get a job?

Statistics on Year 11 School Leavers

Destinations
*NEET = Not in Education, Employment or Training

Thurrock labour market information provides data for the Thurrock area, plus there is a link to compare Thurrock with other areas. The site is full of statistics, but with very little help in the way of interpretation. Some people, particularly those who love statistics, may find this section more useful than others!

nomisweb.co.uk provide official labour market statistics. This is national data and again, like the above, it is heavily based on statistics. 

 www.hesa.ac.uk collects data from Higher Education, including an annual student destinations survey. 

What About Apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships combine study with paid, practical training in a job.

As an apprentice you will:

  • work alongside experienced staff
  • gain job-specific skills
  • earn a wage and get holiday pay
  • get time for study related to your role (usually one day a week)

Apprenticeships take 1 to 5 years to complete depending on their level.

Links:

NCFE webpage about apprenticeships - information from one of the scheme providers
Gov.uk: guide to apprenticeships (PDF)
Gov.uk: A-Z of apprenticeships (PDF)
Gov.uk: how to become an apprentice  (Gov.uk website - information on how to find apprenticeships and how to apply)

 

Online Resources for Pupils

This section highlights some of the most reliable and useful resources which provide impartial advice and guidance every step of the way.

However, don’t forget about those close to you - parents, siblings and relatives are all great sources of information and advice, as well as your teachers.

High quality web-based resources that students and parents should take a look at include:

The National Careers Service provides information, advice and guidance to help you make decisions on learning, training and work opportunities. You can create your own lifelong learning account and access a range of useful tools from real-life case studies and careers guides to web and telephone chats with independent, impartial fully-qualified careers advisor.

Help4Teens has lots of information including careers, further and higher education, training, employment, job vacancies, CVs, letters of application and interview tips.

GetInGoFar has everything you need to know about work-based training. Create an account for apprenticeship vacancy updates and to apply for opportunities online.

My Career Springboard is an impartial careers information package, you create an online account that helps you navigate your choices and careers pathway. You get a personalised noticeboard and you can do ‘personality tests’ that matches careers which might best suit your interests and traits.

UCAS is primarily aimed at choices after GCSE and contains a range of resources students will find useful when considering their choices, such as Careers quizzes.

The icould website has tons of videos covering all types of employment -  you can explore by employment sector, or life theme.

Which?University Use this online tool, from the consumer magazine ‘Which?’, to see where the subjects chosen at A level could take you.

Prospects provide this is good interactive resource exploring options such as university, which careers you can reach from your subjects, plus job-hunting trends.

Careersbox is a complete, free online video library full of films on careers, news and information.

Careers4U site contains videos on lots of different routes, with students talking about apprenticeships, university and jobs.

Gettingin gives a comprehensive overview of universities, courses and apprenticeships.

Advice for Parents

Careers advice is not just for our pupils, the St Clere's parents and carers also need support to help young people make tough and challenging decisions.

Careers Advice for Parents is a website that has been set up by careers professionals and recommended by the UK Career Development Institute.

They said, ‘Careers Advice for Parents aims to give you an easy-to-read overview of all the essential facts on finding jobs and apprenticeships or choosing further and higher education courses which could make a real difference to your child’s future career prospects.’

The National Careers Service is also a good, reliable source of impartial advice and guidance.