What next after your GCSE results?
(Posted on 24/08/16)
Choice is a great thing but you need to take time to think. Tony Lamberton, Executive Headteacher of Christleton Learning Trust in Chester shares advice to help you approach your education choices with ease and confidence.
(1) Begin your research early
Ideally, start investigating schools a year or two before you plan to apply. Advance preparation takes the anxiety out of the process. Spare some time to research school websites, talk to other students, family and friends. For each Sixth Form, consider:
- What is their vision? Does it fit with your values and what you want to achieve?
- What will be the best fit for you and how you learn? Would you like a traditional academic approach, a dual pathway of academic and more practical learning, or a purely vocational course where you learn on the job?
- How will you get to school? How much does it cost and are there grants available? Try the journey, it can be fun to actually do the journey and explore on a Saturday.
- What other opportunities does the Sixth Form offer you? Ask about the extra-curricular programme, skills development, university and work readiness and the wider school programme as well as the usual enrichment programmes in sport, drama and other areas. Check the school magazine to see if these are really happening and how many students have access to them.
(2) Attend Open House & School Tour events
- Open houses and tours can be offered year-round, but early September to December is the peak time for applying for the following academic year. It always seems far away but you need to get on and you will also find thinking about your future helps give sense and purpose to your studies now. Actually going to a school or college is incredibly valuable, you always learn something. I've visited thousands around the world and always learn something from a visit.
- Attend events and ask about: class size, teaching methods, school facilities, access to support and IT, admissions policies, how you'll be helped to research, employability skills and opportunities to practice them. Ask about where students go after they leave the school.
- Ask about the school and classroom layout — can you see yourself learning there?
- Speak up with questions, understand deadlines and confirm how to apply. Every time you ask you learn and grow in confidence.
(3) Understand the admissions process
The admissions process typically includes three steps: (A) an application, (B) student meeting (optional) and (C) a conditional offer. Applications deadlines range from Late September to Late January.
(4) What to do after you receive offers!
Congratulations — you survived the application process! Students must accept or decline their offers within a certain period of time (usually two weeks). After initial offers go out, don't be too disappointed if you don't get your first choice, additional places may become available as offers are declined. Contact the admissions team regularly to express your continued interest.
Remember you are important and the education system is there to support you to be successful in whatever you choose to do. If you don't choose or do nothing life may work out well but why take the chance?
My daughter changed school and subjects at 16 and I remember clearly all the considering and thinking she did. It was a fun time where she was in charge and I was there to help.
Good luck! - although there is a quote "Shallow people believe in luck, strong people believe in cause and effect" R W Emerson.