Entering GCSE year with your child can feel all-encompassing, and without a pre-organised path, it may prevent any serious commitment from your child. It is never too early to plan for what’s next after GCSEs.

So, as your child enters the start of the most significant exam years of their education, we cover the pros and cons of each setting and the advantages it provides to each student. Having a goal in mind before the exam period can help your child concentrate on vital GCSE preparation.

The Advantages of Sixth Form

Sixth form is often the most natural choice for the academically minded students wishing to follow through to university. Usually, based on the same grounds as their current secondary school, it offers familiarity and comfort, with the advantage of already knowing the school and many teachers. In addition, since they completed their GCSEs within the school, it may help the teachers address their needs from the beginning, instead of getting to know the student from the start. This bonus will help the teachers understand the student and how they learn best.

Alternatively, attending a different school for sixth form could be a possibility. Many students often change schools for their A-levels as this gives them a fresh start and the chance to buckle down without the distractions of socialising with lifelong friends. It also provides the opportunity to assess the status of local schools and choose one which may achieve better results from students, giving an advantage to doing well in their final exams.

One of the advantages of attending sixth form is the natural progression it offers to university and being surrounded by like-minded acquaintances. The student pool is often much more intimate, resulting in more one-to-one time with teachers. Being around others who intend to do the same will encourage students to succumb to the positive peer pressure of excelling in their education. Sixth forms are also designed for the natural progression to higher education, and the school will assist the student through applying and setting themselves up for university education.

The Disadvantages of Sixth Form

Although sixth form provides a more relaxed environment than the previous years in education, typically, it remains a formal classroom setting, with teachers instructing where they are and what they do. This setting does not often replicate the freedom and responsibility that is expected at university. As your child prepares for the independence that university offers, it is tough to comprehend when they are still attending the same school they were in from age 11.

The choice of subjects in sixth form can also be limiting, depending on the school. While many schools will expand on subjects for the sixth form students, it may require investigating the local areas and finding a school that offers the subject you need to continue at university.

Although every school offers traditional A-Levels, you may require a specialised subject for a more specialised degree. Each university will showcase which courses are needed at A-Level on the website, so ensure that your child looks at what they will need before deciding on their post-GCSE plans.

The Advantages of College

The most significant advantage of attending college is the access to a broader variety of specialised courses. If your child is looking to follow a technical career, then a college may offer a more focused approach while obtaining the points A-Levels offer. This points-based system still allows students to gain knowledge in a more informal setting, often with more hands-on experience.

In addition, if university education is not the path a child wishes to take, college provides a grand offering of subjects, skills and qualifications that can open up other careers and opportunities. For example, if your child is a more kinetic learner, then a career in the trades may appeal more than attending university. In addition, college offers more than classroom-based learning, with the ability to combine starting to earn a wage and continuing education with a qualification at the end of the apprenticeship.

Colleges also tend to have a much broader range of students from all backgrounds and ages. Many adults will often return to college if they don’t persist down the path they intended for a re-start in pursuing dream career goals. This diversity helps to encourage the student to understand and appreciate a more comprehensive community than a sixth form offers. All ages and backgrounds allow students to experience more of the “real” adult world, opening them up to standing on their own two feet, which will be essential if they intend to move on to university or leave home as adults. As opposed to the shelter and protection they still get from being on school grounds with younger students.

The Disadvantages of College

Unfortunately, while diversity is a great advantage for new experiences, it may deter students from a path they had previously chosen. For example, suppose your child intends to join university following an artistic course from the local college, and they are easily led astray by others. You may find that with all the intentions of encouraging your child to study hard and achieve highly, they may drift onto a new path and may not wish to follow their visions altogether due to a lack of structure and discipline a classroom setting offers.

Also, if you believe that although your child has hit the age of being more responsible and they still require guidance for their education, such as encouragement for homework etc. There will be less encouragement at college, so responsibilities lie with the student.

Each Setting Still Needs the Right Grades

Whichever setting your child decides on, they will still need the minimum grades to get into the location of their choice. To find out what these are, you can look at the institution’s website, which will advise you on expected grades.

Of course, whilst still at the beginning of their journey, there is time to get the help they may need to achieve the minimum grades. Whether it’s for GCSE tuition or online tutoring, we can support any student to achieve success. Speak to us today about how we help on a one-to-one or workshop basis.