Want to support your teenager through their upcoming decision-making? But maybe not sure where to start?
We’ve put together seven top tips to help. They’re all based on our experience working with parents and students who are considering their next steps after GCSEs and beyond.
Decisions at 16
At this point, your teenager will be in the final year of their GCSEs. And this is when some key decision-making takes place. Career routes, subject choices and where to study – it can feel like an overwhelming number of decisions. It’s a difficult parenting task too – transitioning from making decisions on their behalf to supporting them to shape their own future.
Here are a few different ways you can support your child.
Familiarise with the current landscape
The further education landscape is a changing one that frequently evolves. Many parents say they feel out of touch because of this. But there’s no need for it to hold you back.
First, don’t worry if you didn’t pursue further education yourself; you don’t need to have to help to advise your teenager. Similarly, if you followed a traditional A level route when you were their age, don’t feel that you can’t discuss alternative study options with them too.
There are lots of resources to help you familiarise yourself quickly with the current education landscape. Doing so will help you bring more context to the discussions you have with your teenager, and you’ll feel in a better position to chat through their options. Read our quick explanation of choices at 16. It gives a summary of the different study options available at present.
You can also take a look at this article on ‘The Parents’ Guide to’ – it provides a highlights round-up of some of the most recent updates in the education sector and will help bring you up to speed.
Get the conversation started
Open the discussion with your teenager. Here are a few suggested questions that can make for productive conversations:
- Which subjects do you most enjoy, and might you like to continue to study? Which careers do you think might be open to you after completing further study?
- What do you think would suit you best? To focus on learning more about something that you are passionate about in an educational setting by going to university, or to explore a particular sector or vocation by going to college? Or the workplace, perhaps through an apprenticeship?
- Why do you think this route would suit you best?
- What are you interested in outside of school? Why do you enjoy that?
- Would you like to study something completely new?
- Do you know which job or career sector you would like to find out more about?
- Do you know which subjects you need to study/qualifications you need to gain to achieve those career goals?
Set some time aside to research any specific areas of interest together. Discovering the different possibilities in a collaborative way will help to keep you up to speed and your teenager feel supported.
Read our recent blog on deciding the next steps after GCSEs for more prompts and considerations you can explore together.
Discover the career options
It’s hard to know which career path might be right for your child without knowing all of the options that are available; and there are new job roles being created all of the time to reflect the changing job market, new technology and the way society evolves. Our Resources section and its Useful Links page offer a list of useful websites that you could visit with your child to begin talking about the sector or job roles they may be interested in.
The BBC’s Bitesize careers website is also great for learning more about the world of work and reading the stories of young people who’ve found the right path for them.
Decisions at 18
At 18, your teenager has more choices to make and, again, you can play a key part in supporting them in making these.
Have conversations with them about their ambitions, career aspirations and interests – and use the links above to find out more about the options and pathways available to them now that they’re 18. Our blog on choosing how and where to study higher education will give you a summary of options they can consider at this age.
It describes the different routes available to your child, from applying to study for a degree at university to choosing a more vocational, training-based course at a specialist college, or earning while learning with an apprenticeship based in the workplace.
Talk to your child’s school or college
Don’t forget to check in with your child’s school or college to see what support is available. For example, if your child wants to go onto higher level study, does the school/college offer trips to university or college open days? Can they help with personal statement writing or application processes? Are there parent information evenings? Do they offer support for CV writing or interview practice?
Browse parent-focused resources
There are a lot of resources available that are specifically aimed at parents supporting their children. These can be extremely useful and relatable, as they’re written with a parent’s perspective in mind.
Look at the parents’ pages here on the ‘Success at School’ site, for example. They offer summaries on all kinds of topics, from understanding qualification types to navigating different career paths, and even topics like how to support your child with work experience or planning a gap year.
We’re here to help
We hope this blog has been useful to you. If you have any specific questions at all to help you support your child with their future career plans, please feel free to get in touch.