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How can I help my child make their option choices in Year 9 (some schools make option choices in Y8)

Choices students will make in Y9 (some schools they make these choices in Y8) include which GCSEs or vocational subjects your child will do and also, in some areas - where your child will study - as there are now some University Technical Colleges, Free and Studio Schools that recruit students at 14.

You can find out more about compulsory and optional GCSEs in Careerpilot

You can find out about Places to Study at 14, other than a secondary school, in Careerpilot

If you are helping your child to choose their options then bear in mind that most students will do 8 – 10 GCSEs, this means they will have a broad education in a range of subjects and be well prepared to make a range of choices at 16. This also means that choosing or not choosing a particular subject will not make too much difference to future career or learning choices.

GCSE choices that could affect their future

However, there are a few things that should be considered:

  • If your child is interested in studying science related subjects later or is already interested in a career related to science then they should do double or triple science at GCSE – ask your school more about this.
  • If your child is interested in working abroad or is good at modern foreign languages then a language subject can help with employment later.
  • Employers want people with maths and English GCSE grades at 4 - 9 new grades (A – C old grades), also the government has now made it a requirement that a young person without these grades in these subjects will need to continue to do them as part of whatever course or training they do, until they are 18. That’s why encouraging a young person to get a 4 -9 grade for these subjects in Y11 is a great idea.
  • If your child is thinking about A Levels in Year 12/13 then they are likely to need to have done a GCSE in their chosen A Level subjects. However, some subjects only become available at A Level e.g.  Psychology, etc, so a range of GCSEs will be considered as entry to these subjects.

Careerpilot has more about the implications of GCSE choices on future plans here.

Vocational subjects for Y10 (some schools Y9).

Some schools offer vocational qualifications alongside GCSEs and some GCSEs are vocationally-focused.

Vocational qualifications offer a mix of practical and theoretical learning that is directly related to a specific area of employment.

These work-related courses can be a good option if your child has a job sector in mind or if they would like to gain employability skills linked to a particular type of work. The courses that are most commonly available in schools for students in Key Stage 4 are BTEC qualifications and OCR Cambridge Nationals. Find out more about vocational qualification here.

Further information about choosing GCSEs

The Careerpilot site for 13-19 year olds has a whole section on GCSE choices which you can access here.

The Careerpilot site also offers tips on making GCSE choices, see them here.

Your child’s school will provide information and support to help you help your child make the right decisions for them - make the most of all the support on offer.

More information:

  • Studential has tips for Y9 students (some schools make option choices in Y8) on choosing GCSEs, which parents might find useful.

  • UCAS has some ideas about careers related to different GCSE subject areas.

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