Six things to consider with your teen as they leave school for college or sixth form

My twins are now 15 (where does the time go?) and that means they’ll be heading on to further education next year and leaving their school uniform behind. Sob!

While one of them has ‘already decided what she’s going to wear on her first day in sixth form’ (!), they are both undecided about their choices and next steps.

Here are a few things I’ve found helpful when it comes to thinking about further education, that you might too.

  1. Get curious

Chat to your teens about what they like, love, and hate about school now. It’s surprising what it throws up. You may have thought PE was totally their bag, when they actually found the course to be not as practical as they’d thought. Maybe they love English, but all the poems are killing their favourite subject!

  1. Find out what’s on offer at 16+

Nowadays you can’t just ‘leave school and get a job’ at 16 anymore. Teens need to be in education until they’re 18 and there are lots of types of courses they can study. I was clueless until I delved a little deeper: T Levels, apprenticeships, diplomas, BTEC and A levels are all some options. Always remember to do your research as some courses might suit your teen’s style of learning better than others.

  1. Visit schools and colleges that offer a range of courses

There is SO much choice now post 16 but, chances are, your teen probably doesn’t know what further education courses are available. Traditional subjects are most likely all they have known to date, but in a jobs market as broad as today’s, courses with a vocational focus can lead to highly skilled roles in the future. Take time to read about what else there is to study, aside from the usual courses you might already know, and visit any open events at the schools and colleges you’re interested in.

ONE FOR YOUR DIARY – Harrogate College are hosting a FREE Open Event on Wednesday 9th  November from 4-7pm where you can see what courses are on offer and ask questions.

  1. Plan and ask questions

When you visit schools and colleges, plan which courses or subjects you’d like to find out more about. Try and get your teens to think of one or two questions they’d like the answer to. This could be as simple as:

  • ‘What do other students like most about this course?’
  • ‘What’s the ratio of coursework to exams?’
  • ‘What are the class sizes like?’
  • ‘What type of student does this course appeal to?’ – e.g. this could refer to gender, long-term aspirations, or other subjects they also study
  • ‘What do people who take this course go on to do when they finish studying it?’

  1. Do a Recce

Make sure to look at everything that could make or break your teen’s educational experience. Visit the whole of the education facility; find out what the study centre and canteen are like; work out how easy it is to get to by public transport. You might also want to look at what extracurricular activities are available, like whether there’s a drama club or a gym. This is somewhere your teens will be spending a lot of time in over the next two years – you want to make sure they’re going to be happy in their setting.

  1. Find out what extra support you’ll get

Whether, come 18, your young adult is looking to enter the jobs market or progress into higher education, they’ll want some help along the way. It’s worth checking out what sort of support the college or school offers in regards to UCAS forms or careers advice. As a parent or carer, you’ll also want to know what sort of provision there is for pastoral care to make sure your teen (no matter how independent they are) has access to health and wellbeing support alongside their studies.

Whatever and wherever your teen decides they want to progress to, I always feel our job as parents is to simply guide and support them. As much as we’d like to say ‘I think you’d really love this course’, it’s not our choice to make. We just get to cheer them on from the sidelines and make suggestions. The more we know, the more we can support.

Harrogate College Open Event

The Harrogate College Open Event is on Wednesday 9th November from 4-7pm at Harrogate College, Hornbeam Park Ave, Harrogate, HG2 8QT. You can book online for the FREE event at Eventbrite.

Subjects available at Harrogate College include:

  • Applied Science
  • Art & Design
  • Business & Management
  • Catering & Hospitality
  • Childcare
  • Construction & Joinery
  • Digital & IT
  • Electrical
  • ESOL
  • Foundation Studies
  • Hair & Beauty
  • Health & Social Care
  • Motor Vehicle & Automotive
  • Sport & Uniformed Public Services
  • Teacher Education & Early Years

This post was sponsored by Harrogate College.

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