Advice for

parents and carers

Parents, want to help your children plan for their future? Where do you start?

It can seem that a lot hinges on just a few hours in an exam hall – and this is a pretty scary thought for any young person.

As parents, this can make us feel a bit powerless. That's why the more we understand, the better we can help our children take advantage of all their options and make the best decisions for them.

In fact, we can help a great deal as parents/carers and this begins in Year 7. SBL is a ‘careers school’. We talk about careers a great deal with our students and do this from Year 7 right the way through to Year 13.

Here are five ways you can help out as a parent

1. Ask your child "What careers information and opportunities have you been given at SBL?"

“What have you learnt at school today?” is a really important question. Every week we have time set-aside where we will introduce an idea or careers based example into our tutor time. Different subjects also drop in examples when sensible to do so and we provide real events for students to interact with and learn on the subject of future careers possibilities. Please have these conversations from Year 7 onwards.

We are quite happy for students to have a very open mind about what is possible and it really doesn’t need a child to have a firm focus on any one area. What we would like is for students to set their sights on the best quality University place or Apprenticeship offer they can manage and not to settle for something that’s just ‘OK’! SBL students are very able and should be aiming for placements, training or further study which is of a very high quality.

Planning out a career trajectory fairly early in a school career can help to understand whether university, an apprenticeship or a training programme is the best option (there's more on this coming up). This is where Careerpilot comes in handy! If students start using it in Year 7, it will map their skills, qualifications and interests over their time in education. You can also check out Success at School's career zones and employer pages to find out about the best way to prepare for different careers.

We don’t want a student or family to wait until Year 11 for this conversation as, by then, opportunities would have passed by.

2. Help them get work experience

The best work experience will be relevant to the career they’re aiming for – that way they can demonstrate to future employers that they can bring some of the skills and experience more seasoned candidates will have. In a recent survey, 58% of employers said work experience was the most popular attribute among university graduates.

Having a two-three month holiday is a luxury, and a rare chance to get some of the experience that will make their CV stand apart.

Parents can be a big help when it comes to work experience. You’ll know people across a whole range of industries, and a phone call to a friend, or a even friend of a friend, can often yield quicker results than having your son or daughter cold call a list of employers.

If you don’t have a personal connection, encourage your child to talk to their school’s careers advisor. They could also look up relevant local employers and proactively get in touch – showing initiative will impress savvy recruiters and look great on their CV. And don't forget to check out vacancy listings on sites like Success at School.

3. Support our Pupils on results day

If your child has a college or university place for next year, the process of actually committing to that place can be quite daunting on results day. You can be a big support at this time, particularly also, if things don’t turn out as they hoped.

Lower grades don’t have to spell doom. It’s always worth talking to the institution to see if they can be flexible about their entry requirements.

If this is not possible, clearing lets students apply for the university places that are still available, which means they can choose courses with lower requirements. About one in 10 students use clearing every year. Clearing is open from Monday 5 July to Tuesday 19 October 2021. You can't enter Clearing until you have your grades.

Facing an early setback can be a great learning experience, as Walt Disney, Richard Branson and Henry Ford could all tell you. An exam upset can also be a great impetus to embark down a different route – but they will need your support to understand that they are not a failure.

Employers are just as interested in competencies as grades – often more so – and comment that workplace skills are often lacking in graduates. This takes us on to our next point...

4. Learn about apprenticeships and school leaver programmes

Did you know that there’s a scheme called the degree apprenticeship, which gives young people to chance to work towards a bachelor’s or master’s degree, while training for a high-skilled career and getting paid a salary?

The chances are you’ve never heard of it – yet six out of 10 parents in the know would rather their children did a degree apprenticeship than an Oxbridge degree – while 80% wish they’d done one themselves!

Higher apprenticeships also offer the chance to study for academic qualifications from a foundation degree up, and are available in fields as diverse as engineering, marketing, law and finance.

And then there are school leaver programmes from top companies such as PwC and Nestle. These are a bit like apprenticeships, and like apprenticeships, trainees earn a wage while they work towards professional qualifications.

The great thing about all these schemes is that often they don’t require top grades because employers look for verve, enthusiasm and intelligence rather than basing their decision solely on academic performance.

Apprenticeships are for 16 year olds too!

If your child doesn’t get the GCSE results they need to get to college, they always have the option of resitting, but more exams might not the best choice if academia isn’t their strength. All young people need to be in education or training until they're 18, but with a traineeship, intermediate or advanced apprenticeship, they can train in paid job roles as varied as lab technician, web developer and finance officer.

5. Respect and support their decisions

The hardest job as a parent can be offering guidance while allowing them autonomy. You shouldn’t be afraid to share your point of view – after all, you have years of life experience and may have been through many of the decisions they’re going through now.

But at the end of the day, these are profound personal decisions, and the chances are your child will go their own way whatever happens. They may even be going in a new and unfamiliar direction – but with your support, they will be so much more likely to succeed, whatever path they choose to tread.

More information

The following sites offer general advice for parents on how to support their child with careers advice and options.