Post-GCSE options not well understood by pupils

It is important that the young people of the day know all the post-GCSE options they are able to pursue. This includes the option of doing an apprenticeship. Research that was completed in late September showed that young people were confused over what they could do after their GCSE’s. Post-GCSE qualifications remained something of a mystery to those doing their GSCE’s and a study showed that only half of them could name two post GCSE qualifications.

The Association of Colleges conducted the survey and has been released at the launch of Colleges Week. The survey involved 500 students who were studying for their GCSE’s. Interestingly the study found that over 60% of students could name A-Levels as a post GCSE option, hardly any could name any other sort of academic option.

Only 7% of pupils are able to name Apprenticeships as a post-GCSE qualification.

• Only 26% of pupils are able to name NVQs
• Only 19% of pupils are able to name BTECs
• Only 9% of pupils are able to name Diplomas
• Only 3% of pupils are able to name Foundation learning courses

Joy Mercer, Director of Education Policy at the Association of Colleges, comments:

“The research released today highlights the confusion among pupils about their post-GCSE options. They are having to make serious decisions which will significantly impact on their futures, without enough information about the choices available to them. These findings show that parents have a hugely important role in helping their children to fully understand all of their options.

“Parents and young people have a chance to find out more this autumn by taking part in a Have a Go event at a local College or by visiting the WorldSkills 2011 event.”

The study found that half of all pupils do not feel that they have received enough advice from their school or academy in planning their future career. It also reveals that only half receive advice from a specialist careers advisor.

“Young people deserve to know about all of the post-GCSE options available to them and their peers – including Apprenticeships. These results suggest that guaranteed face-to-face guidance from an independent source would be preferable to asking schools and academies to be the primary source of advice.”

Despite being unable to name many of the options available to them after their GCSEs, the survey found that most pupils feel assured that they are making the right choices for their future with 69% confident they have the right information to achieve their post-GCSE goals.

Ms Mercer said: “There is perhaps an element of overconfidence among young people, believing that they are making the right decision based on having all of the information they need. However, there is clearly a gap in knowledge and understanding about the wide variety of options open to them.”

Pupils also said that the advice that they receive from their parents about the options available to them after their GCSEs is more useful than that received from teachers or careers advisors.

Ms Mercer concludes: “It’s not about whether one option is better than another, it’s about ensuring that our children can make an informed choice about their future. We would encourage parents to speak to their children early to ensure they are aware of all the options open to them.

“We would also urge young people to ask about options themselves. Parents and pupils can find out more about post-GCSE alternatives by visiting their local College during Colleges Week, take part in a series of ‘Have a Go’ taster events, or even speak to the national careers advisory service, which will be represented at the WorldSkills 2011 event, the world’s largest international skills competition, taking place at ExCel London between the 5th and the 8th October 2011.”

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