Making the right choices beyond Shoreham

‘It is not about unimaginatively doing what others have done…’
R. Taylor-West, Headmaster


The world beyond Shoreham College can be a slightly daunting one. What should they do next? A-levels, diplomas, an apprenticeship?

The answer, we think, is that they should explore what is right for them. There is a great deal of choice and in some ways the options are expanding rather than shrinking. Pupils have left us to do A-levels in order to access University, and some have left us to take up vocational training, including apprenticeships.


We are here to help

Here at Shoreham, we naturally give the pupils as much assistance as we can with accessing the right pathway for them. For example, in Years 8 and 9 we discuss GCSE choices with them, including reminding them about the importance of their GCSE options as facilitating subjects and in Year 10 we send them out on work experience placements to a variety of employers in order to test ideas about the work place and potential careers. In addition to this, we give them careers talks as part of our Personal Development Programme and PSHE and they have access to computer programmes like 'Fast Tomato'. We also have a sixth form exhibition evening here, at which Varndean, BHASVIC, Hurst and other local colleges present their wares to the pupils and in years 10 and 11 receive presentations from the management team and the Headmaster. They are not left to tackle these issues alone.


University bound?

For some pupils, university is clearly the right thing. If they are academic by nature and enjoy intense study, often of a more abstract nature, perhaps involving research and writing, then finding the right way to access one of the Russell Group universities may be the thing for them.

Who is the Russell Group?

‘Russell Group universities play an important part in the intellectual life of the UK and have huge social, economic and cultural impacts locally, across the UK and around the globe. Between them they produce more than two-thirds of the world-leading research produced in UK universities, support over 300,000 jobs across the country and have a total economic output of more than £32 billion every year. They are global institutions, attracting students and staff from around the world, and working with major multinational businesses and international organisations.’

Getting into them is tough (usually A*s and As at A-level) and to do so means that our pupils must choose the right GCSEs and the right A-levels, particularly the facilitating subjects.

The Russell Group, which represents 24 leading UK universities, defines facilitating subjects as:

  • English literature
  • History
  • Modern languages – e.g. French, German, Spanish etc…
  • Classical languages – e.g. Latin, Ancient Greek
  • Maths and further Maths
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Geography

There are universities that are perhaps less narrowly academic in focus and offer courses that are more specific, or technical. Loughborough University offers great courses in Sport and Design, as do Simon De Montford in Leicester and St Martin’s College in London. The key here is to know the kind of course you need and to carry out wide ranging online searches to find the right kind of course for the young person in question. Is it mechanical engineering, textiles?


Internships and Apprenticeships

For some pupils, university simply is not for them but there are plenty of other options to explore. For instance, there are companies who offer their own training packages. One of our pupils became a Norland Nanny two years ago, which is a fantastic achievement, and large companies such as Microsoft advertise internships.

Another excellent route is a growing number of apprenticeships that are on offer. These should not be seen as less difficult to access than degrees at university. Indeed, the level of technical ability and knowledge required to achieve a place on them varies quite considerably and the apprenticeships range in level a great deal.

For further information about this, you should visit sites like UCAS, which sets out the following:

  • Intermediate level apprenticeship – equivalent to five GCSE passes
  • Advanced level apprenticeship – equivalent to two A level passes
  • Higher apprenticeship – can lead to NVQ level 4 and above, or a foundation degree
  • Degree apprenticeship – a new type of higher apprenticeship which can lead to a full undergraduate degree as part of the apprenticeship

The website Apprenticeships in Sussex, is also very useful indeed and Shoreham’s Headmaster has met with Paul Mitchell, the Executive Director of the Sussex Council of Training Providers, who highly recommends this resource.

The local education authority in West Sussex provides another source:

In many ways, there is more choice, beyond 16, than there used to be and it is important that our young people realise that it is not about unimaginatively doing what others have done, or following pathways that are the ‘normal way to do it’. It is all about our pupils at Shoreham finding pathways that are right for them: appropriate, achievable and offering choices for the future that suit them as people and their aspirations.