On 10 July 2020 we hosted an interactive webinar to support Year 11 students with their preparation for returning to education in September, with the PUSH team.
This article highlights some of the key points that were discussed in the session, and gives you some useful links to find out more.
The difference between school and post-16 education
During the webinar we talked about some of main the differences you’re likely to find in a sixth form or college environment compared to your experiences at school. This included things like having a more varied timetable, only studying subjects of your own choosing and needing to take more responsibility over your learning.
If you’re still deciding whether to opt for sixth form or college, we also explained that there are quite a few differences between these two post-16 environments. For example, at a sixth form students will all generally be aged 16-19 years old and be studying A-levels or for a BTEC, whereas at college there can be much more diversity in terms of the student population and the qualifications being studied. Sixth forms also tend to have a more ‘formal’ environment compared to a further education college, which may include needing to wear a uniform and addressing your teachers as ‘Sir’ or ‘Miss’.
While there are clear differences between school and post-16 education, there are also things that are common to both. We specifically highlighted how academic, pastoral and financial support will continue to be available to you once you embark on the next chapter of your educational journey, regardless of whether that’s at a sixth form or college. Further information about the differences between school, college and sixth form are outlined in this Make Happen Basic Guide. We’ve also collated information about specific sixth forms and colleges across Essex and you can also read more about apprenticeships in this Basic Guide.
Building up your skills over summer
The other main part of the webinar was about skills. Along with your qualifications, skills are extremely important for your future success. In the future when you are writing an application or attending an interview, not only will you need to talk about the skills you have, you’ll also need to provide examples to demonstrate them.
To help you start preparing for this now, we talked you through a three-stage plan for how you can use your time over summer to identify and develop the skills you need for your future.
- Identify the skills you already have. On top of your experiences at school, think about any sports, hobbies, volunteering or work experience that you’ve been involved in. What skills have you used and developed? This might include things like team working, time management, leadership and empathy. You could also complete an online skills assessment to help identify your strengths – check out Prospects and the National Careers Service for two great examples.
- Link your skills to careers. Look through the job profiles on the website and check what skills (and qualifications) are required for any roles you may be interested in for your future career. This can help you to identify any skill areas that you may need to develop to achieve your career ambitions.
- Develop your skills. Now that you’ve spent some time thinking about your own skills, and maybe even linked these to possible career plans, the final step is to build on areas where you are less strong or to develop your existing skills even further. A great starting place for this is to use the Skills Builder Framework. This structured framework breaks down the key building blocks for skills across 4 essential areas and provides examples of activities and daily challenges that you could complete to develop your skills to a higher level.
Kickstart your return to education
By the time you start your next steps in September, you will have been out of education for some time. In order to help prepare yourself and ensure you aren’t too ‘rusty’ when you get back into the classroom, there are a number of activities you could get involved with over summer to help get your brain back into gear.
- Check whether your sixth form or college is providing any preparation work for you to do over summer.
- Take part in a Make Happen virtual summer school. These have been designed to give you a taste of what it’s like to study a subject at university level, as well as inform you about important topics such as student finance, student life and your post-18 options. You find out about the range of summer schools on offer on the Make Happen events page.
- Complete a free online course to develop your knowledge and skills in a particular area. Websites such as FutureLearn and Coursera offer free courses in a wide range of topics – covering everything from Forensic Archaeology to Virtual Reality, and everything in between.