[Blog by Delivery Officer Nia John]
It has been an interesting academic year, to say the least – school closures, learning from home and self-isolation have become routine. However, that doesn’t mean that everything is different, and for thousands of pupils across Wales, now is the time to be making decisions about their futures by choosing their GCSE and A-Level subjects. The question is: how can you, as a parent or guardian, help to guide your child to make good decisions?
First, what not to do – it is your child’s decision, and not one that you should be making on their behalf. Offer advice, certainly, but it is their decision. Peer-pressure is something to be on the lookout for – your child shouldn’t be making decisions based on what everyone else is doing, or only choosing subjects that will keep them with their friends.
Your child might feel anxious – it can feel like a really big, overwhelming decision, something which will affect their future. If they are anxious, try and reframe this as an exciting, positive decision. Talk about your own decisions – and mistakes! You might not even remember exactly what subjects you took or what marks you received when you were their age. Your child will be signed up for some core subjects – English, Welsh, Mathematics – so it is important to remember that they will already have the foundation for a well-rounded education.
So, which subjects should your child be choosing? What they are good at and what they enjoy are great starting points. If they have an idea of a future career, take some time to see if there are any recommendations for GCSE and A-Level topics specific to that industry. Remember that if they want to study science at A-Level, they’ll probably need at least a science double award, and to study science at university, a minimum of two sciences at A-Level is often a requirement. Read around, ask teachers and careers advisors for advice. It can also be worth asking older friends or siblings about their experience – did they enjoy this particular GCSE? Is it something they would recommend?
There is also the topic of Digital Technology, a brand new GCSE. What is it and who is it for? Well, this new qualification lets your child learn a bit of IT, but also the chance to actually use some digital technology! They will build a website, analyse data and either create an animation or a video game. Check with the school to see if they are offering the animation or video game option. With this, and indeed all GCSEs, it will be worth looking at the specification to see what they’ll actually be learning, speaking to teachers or having a look at some of the Technocamps resources we have created to get a feel for what they will be studying.
Remember, no matter what choices your child makes, they should be aiming to give themselves a well-rounded education, with an eye on the future. Help them to talk through their options so that they can enjoy the next two years of schooling and set them up for life.