Stuart Bearsworth

Careers & Work Related Learning


Year 10 is an really important time to start thinking about what course and college you want to apply for. During this podcast, Joanna Cunliffe our independant Careers Adviser will provide really useful tips to prepare you for making these descisions.

College Options Podcast Summary

Whilst students are off over the summer, it’s a good idea to start putting together a career plan which is really easy. There are basically 4 steps to take so I’ll just outline these steps and some of the things that might be helpful.

Step 1 – Think about your skills and interests

Begin by thinking about where you are now, where you want to be and how you’re going to get there. Once you have thought about these, you can start to think about your skills and interests.

  • Interests – what you enjoy doing including subjects and hobbies
  • Skills – what you are good at or have a natural ability to do

A really useful tool to help you with this is Kudos which is a careers software which you can use at home. Mr Beardsworth can send you the link to the Kudos website and give you the log in code so that you can use this at home over the summer holidays. You should complete the ‘My Futures’ quiz as this helps you to think about your skills and interests, and matches these to suitable careers. You can also use Kudos to find out more about particular careers that interest you as well as how you get to do these careers for example whether you need to study at college or whether you can do an apprenticeship. Once you have an idea about the type of career you would like to do, you can start to look at how you get to do these careers for example do you need to study at college or is there the option to do an apprenticeship or traineeship.

Step 2 – Research your options

This step is about finding out more about the careers, education and training options that interest you. You could talk to your family, friends, teachers and me to find out more about your ideas, and then start to research options including college, apprenticeships, traineeships or even work experience

  • College – If you are considering going to college start to look on the websites for local colleges to see if they offer the courses which interest you. In Warrington there are 2 large colleges, WVR and Priestley but also a number of smaller training providers and colleges offering other courses too. Mrs Beardsworth can send you a list of colleges and their websites so that you can start to find out more. At college you can choose to study
  • vocational (work related) courses like BTEC Diploma’s or A Levels so it’s important to think about which qualifications would suit you best for example A Levels tend to include exams whilst BTEC’s tend to be more practical. Also it’s important to look at the different levels of courses the college offer and the GCSE grades you will need to get onto a course at each college.
  • Apprenticeships – Apprenticeships are a mixture of working in a job usually 4 days per week alongside going to college, usually one day a week to gain a qualification. Apprenticeships give you both practical work experience and qualifications, and you also get paid but there is also competition for apprenticeship places so you will need to apply for lots of vacancies. If you are interested in apprenticeships you should set up an account on the national apprenticeship website so that you can start to have a look at the type of apprenticeships that are available. You will need to be applying for these during year 11, as many employers advertise their apprenticeships from Christmas onwards.
  • Traineeships – Traineeships are similar to apprenticeships, the main difference being that they are usually unpaid. But they can be a really good stepping stone into an apprenticeship as many employers offer young people an apprenticeships after a traineeship. They can also be a great way to gain some work experience and qualifications.

There are also a number of smaller training providers and colleges in the area offering lots of different course if you don’t want to consider college or an apprenticeship.

Step 3 – Making Decisions

This step involves comparing your options, narrowing down your choices and thinking about what suits you best at this point in time.

Things you may need to thing about are:

  1. Which careers interest you most and consider one or two alternatives as a back-up plan?What is the best option for you in terms of college, apprenticeships, traineeships etc.
  2. Which option suits your preferred style of learning, do you prefer practical or written work
  3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option?
  4. At the end of this step you will have narrowed down your options and will be able to put together an action plan to enable you to achieve your goals.

Step 4 – Taking Steps

Now it’s time to put together a plan to enable you to achieve your goals for after year 11. It’s a good idea to write an action plan which will help you to identify the steps you need to take. This is something that I can do with students in school.

Some of the things you should include in your plan are:

  1. Attending a college open day or evening to find out more about a course. Colleges will generally have open days/ evenings during the year so that you can go and have a look around and speak to the tutors about the courses.
  2. Applying for a course that interests you, it’s a good idea to apply to colleges before Christmas and to apply to all the colleges which you are interested in. You can apply to as many colleges as you like and accept places at more than one college if you can’t yet decide which one you want to go to. You don’t need to decide until GCSE results day. Many of the colleges have taster days so that you can spend some time at the college trying it out before you decide.
  3. Using the apprenticeships website to apply for apprenticeship and traineeship vacancies. . Applying for apprenticeships is similar to applying for a job, so you will need to go to job interviews, but either myself or Mr Beardsworth can help you to prepare for job interviews and give you some tips. There are also a few other websites you can use to look for apprenticeships and we can provide you with a list of these in school. It’s important if you are applying for apprenticeships to also have a backup plan and apply for a full time college course just in case there are few apprenticeships available.
  4. If you’re still unsure about careers you could look to gain some work experience or do some volunteering so that you can try out a career
  5. Think about a plan B just in case you change your mind
    Make sure that your action plan is realistic and remember that it may change over time.
    Following these 4 steps and doing some research over the summer will help you to have a plan when you start year 11 in September,

I would be happy to speak to any students that I haven’t see in year 10 either over the telephone or hopefully will get chance to meet up in school when this is possible. We can arrange a time for me to ring students and have a chat over the phone if they feel that would be helpful.

It’s really important for parents to be involved as they know their son/daughter best and what options would best suit them, for example whether college would be the best option for their son/daughter after year and what type of college would suit them. Parents can also help students to identify their skills and the type of careers which may suit them if students are struggling to identify their own skills. Sometimes it’s a good idea to ask family and friends what they think your skills are as they know you best.

Just to re-iterate that summer is a good time to really have a think about what you would like to do after year 11, as year 11 is a busy year with lots of things going on in preparation for GCSE exams. Students can see me anytime for information and advice, hopefully in school or I’m available on email or telephone. Also students can speak to us after they leave school up to the age of 25 if they need help in the future looking for work or training.