Leaving Secondary school

This is both an exciting and a frightening thought. For the first time teenagers are free from the routine, regime and pastoral care with which the school environment has provided them. As they have been used to this way of life from the age of 4+ this change can come as something of a shock.

Hopefully their final years at school, whether in Years 10 and 11 or in the Sixth Form, have prepared them for this. There are also Youth Centres throughout the country which are there to support, challenge and enable the learning of young people in order that they may realise their full potential in shaping their own liv es .

The minimum school leaving age is generally 16 years but for young people with disabilities basic education can be continued up to the age of 19 years. At school leaving age there are a number of options open to all young people: some may go on to further education at school or college, while others may wish to gain some experience in actual work.

Getting a Job

It is very important to ensure that you make the right decisions when you come to choosing a career. You may be spending over 40 years of your life at work so make sure it is something that you want to do!

Connexions Card: rewarding your learning

When you first leave school, you may not be earning large amounts of money therefore any help you can get would be beneficial. The Connexions Card is a smartcard available free to all 16 to 19 year olds in England. It enables you to earn reward points for achieving specific learning goals, undertaking voluntary activities and attending your place of learning.

You can earn points for a wide range of rewards and experiences. These could be free books or CDs or even the opportunity to visit a TV show. The card can also be used in a number of high street shops.

For further information phone Connexions Card helpline on 0808 172 3333 or visit the Connexions Card website: www.connexionscard.com/

Apprenticeships let you do on-the-job training while doing a course. For more details look here: ‘Skills and Qualifications'.

Another scheme is called ‘Entry to Employment’. This gives you a weekly allowance to attend sessions that develop your skills.

‘Time off for Study or Training’ is a scheme whereby you are legally entitled to study towards a qualification during normal working hours and still get paid. For more information on both these schemes, follow the link below:

If you decide to enter full-time employment after Year 11, there are still some study options open to you.

Employers are legally required to give you time off to pursue ‘level 2’ qualifications, e.g. 5 GCSEs, NVQ level 2 or an Intermediate GNVQ.

There are five levels of NVQ but if you are aged 14 - 19, levels 1-3 are the ones most applicable to you:

These NVQs are divided into five levels:

  • Level 1 Foundation skills in occupations.
  • Level 2 Operative or semi-skilled occupations.
  • Level 3 Technician, craft, skilled and supervisory occupations.
  • Level 4 Technical and junior management occupations.
  • Level 5 Chartered, professional and senior management occupations.

NVQs are work-related, competence-based qualifications. You can start at whichever level suits you and there are no formal entry requirements apart from relevant experience in your job.

Talk to your teachers or your careers department about these as the workloads vary tremendously from subject to subject. Check the amount of studying required for each qualification.

For more information, visit:
Department for Education and Skills www.dfes.gov.uk/

Ages of pupils at final stages of schooling

Age 15-16: Final year of GCSE course.
Age 16-17: First year of Sixth Form: 4 AS level exams.
Age 17-18: Final year of Sixth Form: 3 or 4 A level exams.
Age 18-19: Entry to University

Many pupils may also enter the sixth form and therefore not leave school until 18 years old. They may enter university or college then or follow one of the following career paths as outlined in the table on the following page.

This is an exciting time for young people but they do need support and advice. Many may start along a career path in which they are not happy and they may need time to reconsider, to re-qualify or to research alternatives. There are so many choices available now that it is very confusing and often it is best to admit that their job is not for them. This is a courageous decision and needs to be listened to and alternatives found.

Good luck to all young people leaving school and starting out on a career.

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