Below are some frequently asked questions and answers:

Do I have to continue my studies after Year 11?

In previous years you were allowed leave school at the age of 16, but in 2013 the age was raised to 18. It is a requirement made by the Government that all children in this age range must stay in some form of education or training. Doing this enables you to gain more skills and options for the future.

What is Key Stage 3?

Key Stage 3 (commonly abbreviated as KS3) is the legal term for the three years of schooling in maintained schools in England and Wales normally known as Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9, when pupils are aged between 11 and 14.

What is Key Stage 4?

Key Stage 4 is the legal term for the two years of school education which incorporate GCSEs, and other exams, in maintained schools in England normally known as Year 10 and Year 11, when pupils are aged between 14 and 16.

What are the different key stages when decisions are made?

Key Stage 3 - (Y8) students will make decisions about the GCSE options for KS4 (Y10 & 11).

Key Stage 4 - (Y11) students will make decisions about the post 16 options including A level, BTEC and college options for KS5 (Y12 & 13).

Key Stage 5 - students will make decisions about the post 18 options including whether to attend university, apply for an apprenticeship, gain employment or take up a training opportunity.

What happens if I fail my Maths, English or both?

As you won't have the opportunity to continue your studies with Firth Park Academy Post-16, you will be required to retake your failed subject at your next chosen institution. It would be important to talk your options through with your parents/carers, teacher or careers advisor, as they will be to help you explore your next steps.

What should I do if I am unsure about what career I want to choose?

Do not panic! This is perfectly normal - often our career ideas change throughout our lifetime. It is important to talk to somebody, and there are lots of staff within the school who can provide you with support and guidance. A good starting point is to talk about your interests with your parents/carers, career advisor, family members, teachers and friends.

Can I go on work experience at some point?

Yes! At Firth Park Academy, we offer the opportunity to go out on work experience during Year 10. This is an important opportunity for students to engage with employers and to find out what the work environment is really like. Students are encouraged to find their own placements that meet their career aspirations.

What is a Plan B?

Plan B is a backup plan. It is important to have a plan B, so that if everything does not go to your first plan (plan A), you already have a good idea about what you can do instead. This can help reduce stress, concern and upset.

What is an AS/A Level?

AS and A levels are the traditional qualifications offered by schools and colleges for 16-19 year olds. They’re highly valued by universities and employers and focus on academic subjects, although some are work-related.

AS levels can be taken as a stand-alone qualification, or as the first part of an A level course. AS levels are completed at the end of Year 12 (the old ‘Lower Sixth’ year). A2 exams and coursework are added on to an AS level at the end of Year 13 (the old ‘Upper Sixth’ year), bringing it up to A level standard.

What is a BTEC?

BTEC stands for ‘Business and Technology Education Council’, named after the body which first governed the qualifications (it’s now Edexcel). BTECs are gaining popularity as an alternative to A-Levels, but they actually cover a whole range of academic levels. BTECs at levels 1 and 2 are equivalent to GCSEs, level 3 to A-Levels, and levels 4 -7 hold the same status of achievement as a degree.

BTECs are vocational qualifications rather than traditional academic courses, with typical subjects offered at BTEC level including Business Studies, Travel and Tourism, Engineering and Information Technology – you can’t study subjects like History or English at BTEC level.

What is an Apprenticeship?

In an apprenticeship you are employed on a real job, trained, and once qualified, receive a nationally recognised qualification. Even though the age of leaving school has gone up to 18 years old, you can leave at 16 to pursue a career where you are trained whilst working. This means you will need to decide on what you want to do before some of your friends, as competition for apprenticeship is high. 12. What is the new GCSE marking scheme?

What is the new GCSE marking scheme?

If you are unsure about the marking scheme, please contact the school and we will go through it with you.

What is a BA, BEd and BSc?

Each of the above acronyms are related to a bachelor degree, which is the first degree that you study after school.

BA = Bachelor of Arts

BEd = Bachelor of Education

BSc = Bachelor of Science

What if I do not want to attend university?

University is not for everybody. There are many pathways and options that you can choose if you decide not to go to university. These include an apprenticeship, training, technical college, employment or establishing your own business. A good starting point is to talk about your interests with your parents/carers, family members, teachers and career advisor.

Anything else?

If you have any more unanswered questions, please do not hesitate to contact your Careers Advisor.