Vocabulary is often overlooked by those who don’t write. As well as improving your quality of written work, whether that is school and college essays or novels and poems, extending your vocabulary will also improve your confidence with spoken language and day-to-day conversations.
No matter your age or occupation, you should always seek ways to extend your back-catalogue of words.
Your vocabulary (or wordstock) is a set of words that you are familiar with. A vocabulary may also be specific to a particular field of knowledge. For example, a scientist will have a set of words they use every day that the general public won’t necessarily be familiar with; most adults have a vocabulary range of 20,000 to 35,000 words that they can actively use, read and understand[i].
Vocabulary can be split into three tiers[ii]:
Tier 1: Basic, everyday words most children will understand and use before reaching school age. These are words like ‘girl’, ‘swim’ and ‘cold’.
Tier 2: Words that aren’t used often and are usually only learned when there is a specific need to know them, e.g., if taking a science lesson, a child will learn the word ‘photosynthesis.’
Tier 3: Some words are used more often in written text than conversation but can be applied to many different settings. These are words like ‘auspicious,’ ‘articulate,’ and ‘summarise.’
Although the tiers are useful when it comes to understanding the development of one’s vocabulary and how advanced it is, educators tend to split the language into four groups:
Throughout your life, your vocabulary is one of the essential tools in your communication toolbox. Without knowing it, you unconsciously use it for all aspects of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. These are the core reasons for its importance[iii]:
Vocabulary generally grows as you age. As a child, the extent of your vocabulary will depend on many factors such as how you are socialised, the people you grow up around, the level of education you receive, and what you read and watch on TV.
Children will begin to form proper words around 12 months into their lives, and from there, they will always be trying and learning new words. Depending on the circumstances in which they grow up, children can learn anything from 750 to a massive 3000 words per year[iv].
By the time a child is 6, they will be able to use 2,600 words in speech and understand 20,000 to 24,000 words. This can grow to about 50,000 words by the time they are 12[v].
A ‘weak’ vocabulary is where someone doesn’t understand or use as many words as most people within their age group. A delay in vocabulary growth can happen for many reasons, and it’s easier to spot in others than it would be to spot within yourself.
If someone has a weak vocabulary, they may experience the following.
Adults will learn one new word a day until they reach middle age, where natural vocabulary growth tends to stop [vi]. However, no matter what age you are, you can improve and grow your vocabulary if you take active steps. We’ve compiled a list of techniques that will help you to strengthen your vocabulary to improve your writing, reading, speaking, and listening skills across the board.
This is an easy and fun way to absorb new words. You could play traditional word games like Scrabble, take time to complete the crossword in the daily newspaper, or download a few apps on your phone that you can play when you have a spare 5 minutes. This will get the cogs in your brain turning.
Make it a challenge to learn a new word every day and try to use it at least five times within conversation. Repetition is one of the best ways to add a word to your vocabulary as it helps your brain recall it in the future. There are dozens of resources to help you pick a new word, but here are a couple of our favourites:
Alternatively, pick up a dictionary or thesaurus, flip it to a random page and pick your word. The more difficult it is, the better!
This may seem simple enough, but reading daily can be difficult if you haven’t read regularly since your school days. Reading will help you to not only pick up new words but to understand how they’re used in context.
You don’t have to start off reading long, compilated novels. Take it step by step, start reading magazines, newspapers, and progress to books you think you’ll enjoy (this could be on a topic you like or even a celebrity’s autobiography).
If you find yourself struggling to understand words often, keep a dictionary on hand. Although it may be easier to Google it, leafing through the pages of a dictionary to find the meaning of a word will help you commit it to your memory.
Do the same if you’ve noticed you use a word or a set of words too often in emails or messages; could you use more exciting language instead?
School may seem like it was a lifetime ago, but if you re-visit English in a learning capacity, it will accelerate your vocabulary growth. There are hundreds of English courses online if you don’t want to go to a college or learning centre, from subject-specific lessons to English GCSE courses.
While completing the activities above, start a list of new words you have learned. At the end of the day or week, sit down and write something that includes all of these words. This is another excellent technique that will help your memory recall of the word, and who knows – it might spark a passion for writing.
Whichever way you decide to get started, make sure you take it a step at a time. In a few months, you’re sure to notice a difference in your confidence with conversation and the variety of words you use daily.
Beck, I. L., McKeown, M. G. & Kucan, L., n.d. BRINGING WORDS TO LIFE. [Online] Available at: https://bep.education/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Bringing-Words-to-Life-Booklet.pdf [Accessed February 2021].
Huld, L., n.d. How Many Words Does the Average Person Know?. [Online] Available at: https://wordcounter.io/blog/how-many-words-does-the-average-person-know/ [Accessed February 2021].
Loraine, S., 2008. Vocabulary Development. [Online] Available at: https://www.superduperinc.com/handouts/pdf/149_VocabularyDevelopment.pdf [Accessed 2021].
Merriam-Webster, n.d. vocabulary. [Online] Available at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vocabulary [Accessed February 2021].
R.L.G, 2013. Lexical facts. [Online] Available at: https://www.economist.com/johnson/2013/05/29/lexical-facts [Accessed February 2021].
Seifert, D., 2016. Top 5 Reasons Why Vocabulary Matters. [Online] Available at: https://infercabulary.com/top-5-reasons-why-vocabulary-matters/ [Accessed February 2021].
Sprenger, M., 2013. Teaching the Critical Vocabulary of the Common Core. [Online] Available at: http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/113040/chapters/What-Does-the-Research-Say-About-Vocabulary%C2%A2.aspx [Accessed February 2021].
Homeschooling is becoming a much more popular choice for parents; especially now that people can work from home and access many quality teaching resources online.
Despite growing in popularity, there are still many misconceptions and misunderstandings surrounding homeschooling. This guide aims to walk you through what homeschooling is and the many aspects involved.
There are many reasons that you might decide to take your child out of the schooling system and choose to educate them at home instead. You could be unimpressed with the education system, have concerns over your child being bullied at school, or you might think your child would respond better to home education.
If homeschooling is something you’re seriously considering, you won’t be alone in your decision. It was reported in 2018 that homeschooling in the UK had increased by a massive 40% over three years [i]. Choosing to homeschool ultimately comes down to your circumstances and what you think is best for your child or children, but some of the most common reasons include:
There is a lot to consider before jumping into homeschooling. Ultimately, it would help if you decided what is best for your child’s future.
Although homeschooling is the best option for many students, you have to understand that it’ll change your life and be willing to accept the extra responsibilities that come with it. You’ll be both a parent and a teacher, and how you decide to balance this role will alter your relationship with your child forever – whether this is beneficial or detrimental. So what should you be thinking about before you take the leap?
Will your work-life fit in around your homeschooling activities? If you have a partner and both of you work, will one of you leave your job to take on homeschooling responsibilities?
Suppose you’re able to do your job remotely. In that case, this can run relatively smoothly alongside homeschooling – but you need to be realistic about how flexible your job role is and whether this balance would work for you and your family. It wouldn’t be fair to expect your child to self-teach all day while you’re on conference calls. It would also help to consider whether you’d be able to work effectively and productively while teaching.
The key aspect to consider when thinking about homeschooling is your child. If your child has been struggling in school for a while, both socially and with their learning progress, it’s an infinitely easier decision to make than if they excel in one or both fields.
What is best for them? Make sure you have a series of honest, open conversations with them about what they’d like to do, and don’t make the decision based on what works best for you.
Homeschooling can turn your life upside down (not necessarily in a bad way!). Have a sit-down and think about whether you’re equipped to educate your child; if you’re not overly confident in your abilities, you can always take an online teaching course, but this isn’t a necessity. Although homeschooling can have a considerable number of benefits for your entire family, you’ll need to be ready to accept that your whole routine will need to change for the times your child would ‘normally’ be out of the house and in school.
It won’t always be easy!
People like to paint a perfect picture of their homeschooling experiences on the internet, but there will always be days that are more of a struggle than others. Not everything will go to plan or work out the first time around, and you have to expect that your child won’t be a perfect student every day. Remember that the good will always outweigh the bad and take each problem as it comes.
If you’ve weighed up your options and decided homeschooling is the best educational approach for you and your child, there’s a busy road ahead!
The following explains everything you need to do to homeschool effectively.
In the UK, you’re within your rights to educate your child at home if you want to, but in most circumstances, they must be in education from 5 to 16. If they’re already enrolled in a school, you should tell the school that you’re planning on educating them from home[iii]. They’ll walk you through any administrative procedures, but they must accept this if you plan on homeschooling full time. The school will contact the local education authority to tell them you’ve taken your child off their register.
If your child isn’t of school age, but you’re planning on homeschooling them, you don’t legally have to inform anyone, but it’s sensible to contact your local education authority to let them know.
In either case, your local authority may contact you to discuss your educational plans or to arrange a home visit. This isn’t anything to worry about, and under most circumstances, they won’t stop you from homeschooling. These checks ensure your child will be receiving a good standard of education[iv].
There are many homeschooling styles. Each style supports a different learning way, and what suits some children may not work for others. Below, we run through the most popular homeschooling styles – from more traditional textbook-led methods to child-led methods.
Instead of blindly diving into different curriculums, it’s wise to research the homeschooling styles above and decide on your curriculum based on that. The key to choosing a curriculum is finding one that is the best ‘fit’ for your child. As well as considering your child, you need to think about your capabilities and situation. Many parents pick and choose subjects from different curriculums, while others follow one verbatim. Whatever you decide to do, remember that there is no shame in changing tact if the curriculum you choose doesn’t work for you!
Remember that your curriculum is only there to guide you, and you don’t have to follow it to the letter. Generally, you’ll have to pay for more comprehensive curriculum packs, but there are some great free resources available.
Here are some popular providers for you to explore:
Legally in the UK, your child should spend no minimum amount of time learning each week. As a guideline, most schools offer 22-25 hours of education a week and are in session for 38 weeks in the year. This is an excellent model to follow to ensure your child can keep up with their peers.
One of the main appeals of homeschooling is the freedom to create your own timetable, schooling hours and to plan holidays that fall within regular school term times. This flexibility opens up more opportunities for educational travel and family trips and takes the stress away from planning everything around a set school timetable.
However, it’s wise to have an open plan on the amount of time you want to spend homeschooling each day, the topics you’d like to cover, and when your holidays will fall. Although some parents like to stick to strict homeschooling hours, others let lessons seep into ‘after school’ time. This all depends on your preferences. Either way, accept that you won’t cover everything you want to every day; there’s always time to catch up!
Even though it’s easy to try and tackle everything alone as a parent-teacher, you’ll function better with a stable support network. Homeschool groups are communities of parents who also educate their children at home and are ideal places to seek advice & share ideas. Often, homeschool groups will also organise social events for children within the community, so they offer great opportunities for your child (and you!) to make new friends. These connections could be vital for you during your first year or so of homeschooling.There are hundreds of groups that have been set up expressly to support homeschoolers. You can find some local groups here.
Naturally, homeschool lessons will take part in many places of the house, but here are some classroom area ideas to consider:
Light and space – a desk near a window with ample space will create a productive environment that doesn’t feel oppressive.
Limit distractions – where possible, don’t set up your classroom or study space in a busy, high traffic part of the house.
Organisation – dedicated cupboards, drawers, and folders for learning resources & curriculum content must make sure lessons run smoothly. Providing your child with their own desk with organisers will also help them feel more in control and responsible for their space, so they’re more likely to keep it tidy.
Visuals – use whiteboards and print outs to show your child their timetable for the day and to illustrate any relevant curriculum materials
Personality – your child will spend a considerable amount of their time in their homeschool classroom, so you need to make sure it’s an environment they enjoy being in. Let them help you pick decorations, fun stationery, and posters.
Furniture – to an extent, you need to pick furniture that will work with your space, but make sure the furniture you choose is comfortable and durable so it’ll last a long time. Be mindful that desks and chairs may need to be replaced as your child grows.
A lot of parents have put off homeschooling because they’re concerned about the cost of it.
Although education through schools is free in the UK, there are no home education grants, and you can’t get financial help from the government for homeschooling[viii]. If you choose to educate from home, this becomes your financial responsibility.
So, what costs do you need to consider?
The potential loss of income – If one parent needs to stop working to become a parent-teacher, this means less income for your household.
Homeschooling supplies – You will need to stock up on stationery, organisation materials, teaching materials, furniture, and more. Although this can all cost a pretty penny, being savvy will help you to cut costs here.
Cost of resources – The cost of a curriculum or subject packs if you choose to use them to support your child’s learning.
Paying for exams – If your child isn’t enrolled in school, you’ll have to cover the cost of any GCSE or A-Level exams. The cost of exams will depend on the subject and the exam board, but you need to be prepared for the cost as exams can be anything from £40-£60 each. You can see the most up to date prices on the exam boards websites:
Despite the extra costs, you will also be saving money in several areas:
One of the most controversial topics surrounding homeschooling is the supposed psychological effects it could potentially have on a child. Not being in a ‘typical’ school setting will affect them in later life. When children experience homeschooling, they can end up:
Although home education can have a negative impact on children, this is usually due to parents homeschooling for the wrong reasons, such as wanting more control over their child. In later life, this small minority of children may experience:
The answer to this is for you to decide. If you feel that homeschooling is what your child needs to thrive and succeed, and you are equally equipped to handle the responsibilities of it as a parent, there is a world of positive benefits that can be reaped.
Chilton, V. (2019, February). Why choose to Home School in 2019? Retrieved from Oxford Homeschooling: https://www.oxfordhomeschooling.co.uk/blog/why-choose-to-home-school-in-2019/
GOV.UK. (n.d.). Educating your child at home. Retrieved from GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/home-education
Issimdar, M. (2018, April). Homeschooling in the UK increases 40% over three years. Retrieved from BBC: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-42624220
Lane, M. (2018, December). Homeschooling: good for your child & your finances? Retrieved from Money: https://www.money.co.uk/guides/home-schooling-good-for-your-child-and-your-finances.htm
Minges, K. E., & Redeker, N. S. (2016). Delayed school start times and adolescent sleep: A systematic review of the experimental evidence. Retrieved from PubMed.gov: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26545246/
Simply Charlotte Mason. (n.d.). What is the Charlotte Mason Method? Retrieved from Simply Charlotte Mason: https://simplycharlottemason.com/what-is-the-charlotte-mason-method/
TBS Staff. (2019, November). Homeschooling: Which Model Is Right for You? Retrieved from The Best Schools: https://thebestschools.org/magazine/homeschool-style-right/
The Homeschool Mom. (n.d.). Classical Homeschooling. Retrieved from The Homeschool Mom: https://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/homeschooling-styles/classical-homeschooling/
The School Run. (n.d.). The legalities of home education in the UK. Retrieved from The School Run: https://www.theschoolrun.com/home-education-legalities
Everyone reaches an age where they want a bit more cash than their weekly £5 pocket money. When you hit this point, it’s probably worth looking for a part-time job.
Getting a job whilst you’re young will benefit you in more ways than one. Not only will you have a steady flow of money going into your bank account, but you’ll be able to gain valuable skills that will make it easier to get a full-time job when you’ve finished school. If you’re willing to sacrifice your evenings or weekends, the pay-off will be worth it.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at:
There are loads of reasons why getting a job is beneficial to you when you’re younger (aside from the money). When you get a part-time job whilst you’re younger, you’re more likely to get a graduate job later on and are up to 6% less likely to be out of education or employment five years down the line[i]. Other benefits include:
Although you can get a job from 13 onwards, there are some extra laws in place that make sure:
The number of hours you can legally work depends on whether you are working during school term-time or working during the holidays.
If you’re under 16, you aren’t allowed to work during school hours, more than one hour before school, or between 7 pm & 7 am in any circumstances (unless you are working in areas like modelling, theatre, and TV and you have a license).
During school term-times, 13 & 14 year olds are allowed to work the following hours[ii].
During the school holidays, these hours are longer.
During school term-times, 15 & 16 year olds can work the following hours.
During the school holidays, these hours are longer.
Once you’re over 16, you’re usually past your’ school leaving age’, so there are fewer restrictions on working hours. You can get a job, but you should be in some form of education until you’re 18. This includes staying in full-time education, starting an apprenticeship, or working/volunteering (if you do this, you’ll still need to be receiving an education, which could include completing online courses or going to college for a few days a week)[iii].
Legally, your working hours should[iv]:
And you are entitled to:
When you reach 18, you’ll be classed as an adult and your working hours will be less restricted. Find out more about weekly working hours for adults here.
The amount you can get paid as a teenager depends on how much you work and your age.
When you’re under 16, you aren’t entitled to the national minimum wage[v]. The amount you are paid is entirely up to your employer, so you should make sure you’re happy with it before you accept the job.
The minimum wage for 16 and 17 year olds is £4.55 an hour.
If you’re an apprentice, your minimum wage will be £4.15 an hour[vi]. As of April 2021, these rates will go up to £4.62 for 16 & 17 year olds, and £4.30 for apprentices.
Now you know the law, let’s look at some of the most popular jobs for teenagers.
Babysitting jobs are relatively easy to come across and aren’t too difficult (if the children you’re looking after are well behaved!). Ask family friends who have young children if they’d like you to babysit. If you’re good enough, they might even tell their friends about you.
There is legally no minimum age for a babysitting job, but if you are under 16, the parent or carer you’re babysitting for is responsible for you and their child’s wellbeing.
Gardening is a fun job, and there are plenty of people with gardens who don’t have time to do basic tasks like weeding, mowing the lawn, and power washing decks/patios. If you think you’ve got the skills, start asking neighbours if there are any jobs they’d like you to do. You could even show some entrepreneurial spirit and create a page on Facebook to advertise your services.
Working in a local shop after school or at the weekends is a great chance to make some money, meet people and grow your confidence. Although you’ll probably start doing small jobs like re-stocking shelves and cleaning up, working in retail can help you gain skills you wouldn’t find anywhere else.
Pubs and bars are usually keen to hire a younger person to help with glass collecting and cleaning during busy periods. You could also work in a restaurant taking orders and waiting tables. Once you’ve shown that you’re responsible, you may even be able to serve drinks behind the bar with an adult present.
Dog walking is a perfect job for pet lovers and easy if you have your own dog. Why not ask around and see if anyone in your area needs a hand with walking their dog in the mornings or afternoons. If they’re happy with your dog walking services, they might ask you to dog-sit while they are on holiday or if they go somewhere for the day and can’t take their canine friend.
There are dozens of websites like Etsy and Depop where people can sell items they’ve made. If you have a creative streak and lots of spare time, you might be able to make some extra cash by drawing, embroidering, or crafting items to sell on these platforms. If you choose to do this, you’re best getting a parent involved to help you with the payment side of things.
Although volunteering won’t earn you any money, it will help you gain essential skills, which will benefit you when you leave school. Look into helping local charity shops or organisations like the British Red Cross, The Prince’s Trust, or local scouting and girls guides groups.
You’ll need to be a morning person to deliver newspapers but finishing your daily round can be rewarding! Pop round to your local newsagents to see if they need any paperboys or papergirls.
Cleaning, whether for your family, an established company, or a small business, is a good choice for a first job. It’s easy to learn how to clean to a professional standard, and clients will often tip you well.
If you’re keen on the idea of hairdressing, this is a great job to get you started. Although you won’t be going anywhere near the scissors, you’ll gain experience with what day-to-day life is like in a salon, and it will help you get your foot in the door if you decide to do an apprenticeship or train as a hairstylist at college later on. Your duties will include cleaning, sweeping up hair, and making drinks for clients.
Whichever job you decide to go for, you’ll be paving the way to a fulfilling working life later down the line.
ACAS, n.d. Young workers, apprentices and work experience. [Online] Available at: https://www.acas.org.uk/young-workers-apprentices-and-work-experience [Accessed February 2021].
GOV.UK, 2021. Child employment. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/child-employment/restrictions-on-child-employment [Accessed February 2021].
GOV.UK, 2021. School leaving age. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/know-when-you-can-leave-school [Accessed February 2021].
NI Business Info, 2020. National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage – rates and overview. [Online] Available at: https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/national-minimum-wage-and-national-living-wage-rates [Accessed February 2021].
Success at School, n.d. Part-Time Work For Teenagers – 15 Saturday Job Ideas. [Online] Available at: https://successatschool.org/blog/493/Part-time-work-for-teenagers-%E2%80%93-15-Saturday-job-ideas [Accessed February 2021].
Work Smart, n.d. Is there a minimum wage for children who work?. [Online] Available at: https://worksmart.org.uk/work-rights/young-workers/childrens-work-rights/there-minimum-wage-children-who-work [Accessed February 2021].
If you’re looking for a career that challenges you daily, pays you handsomely, and gives you a chance to work with the brightest minds, finance is the answer.
Have you ever wondered why careers in finance attract the top graduates in every university? Simply put, finance offers several exceptional benefits and advantages that are hard to pass up. If you are good with numbers, enjoy working in a fast-paced environment, and ready to dedicate long hours to success, this could be the career for you.
Here are some of our top reasons that you should consider a career in finance.
Are you interested in a career in finance? Check out some of these popular options.[i]
Investment banking is one of the most sought-after jobs in finance, offering high salaries and prestige. As an investment banker, you’ll broker significant transactions for individuals and institutional clients. This is a very competitive field that requires a lot of confidence, charm, and attention to detail.
In this role, you will manage the wealth of High Net-Worth Individuals (HNIs) and corporations. This job requires strong networking abilities and client care, working closely with your clients to create wealth and help them reach their financial goals.
Are you looking to earn a handsome living? Check out the highest paying finance jobs in the UK.[ii]
If you are considering a career in finance, there are two main routes into the industry.[iii]
Here, we focus on some of the top graduate roles in finance: How to get a career in Accountancy, Investment Management, and Banking. Be sure to check the requirements of the bank or firm you are interested in for specifics.
Most big accountancy firms only offer roles to graduates with a degree in a maths-related subject, although school leaver programmes are occasionally available. No matter which route you choose, you’ll start gaining qualifications as soon as you get hired and work towards a globally recognised accountancy qualification.
You’ll need to have strong academic grades, including a grade 5-6 (B) or higher in GCSE maths and English. School leaver programmes typically last five years – during the first two years, you’ll work towards a qualification or certificate. During your final three years, you will work towards a professional qualification.
Accountancy firms will welcome those with both arts degrees and numerate degrees, with at least a 2.1. You’ll need to demonstrate that you can pass difficult numeracy tests and show a record of good A level grades. Consider undertaking an internship during your final year at Uni to get a head start on your career.
Most investment management firms offer school leaver programmes, as well as options for university graduates.
Investment banks often offer school leaver programmes. These programmes are level 3 or 4 apprenticeships and are available for applicants who have achieved at least three A levels with grades A* to C. If this interests you, you should ensure you take maths and/or economics A levels. It’s also vital to have at least five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including maths and English.
While investment firms will look at all arts degrees, you’ll have the best chances if you have a numerate (maths-related) degree. You should achieve at least a 2:1, and have solid A level grades before applying to graduate investment banking jobs.
If you’re interested in a career in banking, the requirements will depend on the division you’re applying for and the institution you’re submitting your application to.
Many banks offer level 4 apprenticeships for their retail and corporate divisions. They require two good A levels (A* to C), a set number of UCAS points, and a minimum of five A* to C/9 to 4 grade GCSEs, including maths and English.
Retail and corporate banking positions accept bachelors and master’s students who have achieved (or are on track for) a 2.1 in any subject. They will also have minimum GCSE requirements.
If you are attempting the school leaver’s route (or you want to break into the finance industry as an adult with no degree), follow these helpful tips.[iv]
If you enjoy problem-solving, a challenging work environment, and earning an enviable salary, careers in finance might be for you. With these skills and tips, you can seek out the highest paying finance jobs, whether you have a degree or you are applying as a school leaver.
Randstad (2020). The Highest Paying Finance Jobs In The UK 2018 | Randstad UK. [online] www.randstad.co.uk. Available at: https://www.randstad.co.uk/salary-calculator/highest-paying-finance-jobs-uk-2020/ [Accessed 20 Jan. 2021].
Segal, T. (2020). 10 Ways to a Finance Career Without a Degree. [online] Investopedia. Available at: https://www.investopedia.com/articles/professionals/062413/no-finance-degree-no-problem-top-10-ways-jumpstart-career-finance.asp [Accessed 20 Jan. 2021].
Target Careers (2020). How do I get into finance? | TARGETcareers. [online] targetcareers.co.uk. Available at: https://targetcareers.co.uk/career-sectors/finance/70-how-do-i-get-into-finance#:~:text=There%20are%20two%20routes%20in [Accessed 20 Jan. 2021].
Wall Street Mojo (2016). Careers in Finance | Top 6 Options You Must Consider. [online] WallStreetMojo. Available at: https://www.wallstreetmojo.com/careers-in-finance/ [Accessed 20 Jan. 2021].
If you’re looking for a career path that allows you to help people, challenges you on a regular basis, and make a real difference in the medical system, a career in mental health may be right for you. In this article, we detail some of the most popular careers in mental health in the United Kingdom. Is one of these roles right for you?
The term mental health refers to our sense of psychological, emotional, and social wellbeing. Our mental health affects our daily lives, often dictating how we feel, the decisions we make, our thought patterns, and how we act. If our mental health is suffering, it can become challenging to make good choices.[i] While we often think of mental health as affecting only adults, mental health is extremely important in children and adolescents as well.
People with severe mental health challenges often experience hardships, struggling to maintain healthy relationships, manage their daily lives, and to excel in their careers. However, many seemingly ‘normal people’ have hidden mental health struggles, such as depression and anxiety, that they manage effectively.
There is no shame or stigma associated with mental illness. Today, more and more notable people and celebrities are revealing their own battles with these issues.[ii]
Mental health problems, including schizophrenia, depression disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder, can be caused by a wide variety of factors.[iii] These include:
Often, these causes can compound and trigger one another. However, even if you struggle with a history of mental illness, with the right tools and support, you can overcome these problems.
Some of the early warning signs of mental illness include:
If you notice that you or a loved one is exhibiting the early signs of mental health problems, it’s time to get some help. Effective help is out there, and mental health professionals can make a powerful impact on a sufferer’s life.
Mental health professionals can help you:
If you want to work with and support people dealing with the issues listed above, a career in the mental health sector may be the right path for you.[iv]
Clinical and counselling psychologists help to diagnose people who present with emotional and behavioural problems. In addition to mental health issues, they can also help with strategies to manage neurological conditions, such as epilepsy.[v] They can also help patients manage illnesses, crises, and life changes.
Clinical and Counselling Psychologists need to earn a PhD or PsyD degree in psychology.
Annual salary for Clinical or Counselling Psychologists in the UK: Starting salaries with the NHS range from £30,401 to £37,267. With significant experience and responsibility, that income can raise to between £61,777 to £86,687.[vi]
What is a Marriage and Family Therapist?
Marriage and family therapists work with families, couples, and individuals, helping them manage conflict and come to a place of cooperation and resolution. The goal is improved communication and happier relationships.
What education do you need to become a Marriage and Family Therapist? You need a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy to embark on this career.
Annual salary for Marriage and Family Therapists in the UK[vii]: The average starting salary is £40,651. A senior-level licensed Marriage and Family Therapist earns an average of £70,558 per annum.
What is a Clinical Social Worker?
Clinical social workers help to safeguard vulnerable people from harm. They support families and individuals and advocate for them as they navigate the healthcare and housing systems.
What education do you need to become a Clinical Social Worker? Clinical social workers need a three-year undergraduate degree as well as a Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)-approved two-year postgraduate degree in social work.[viii]
Annual salary for Clinical Social Workers in the UK: The average salary for a Clinical Social Worker in the UK is £35,064 per annum.
What is a Psychiatric Nurse?
Psychiatric nurses are qualified nurses who specialise in caring for patients with psychiatric needs and mental health issues.
What education do you need to become a Psychiatric Nurse? To work as a Psychiatric Nurse, you must first complete a pre-registration nursing degree or nursing degree apprenticeship and be registered with the Midwifery Council (NMC).[ix]
Annual salary for Psychiatric Nurses in the UK: Newly qualified Psychiatrist Nurses earn an annual salary of between £24,907 to £30,615. The highest-paid NHS Psych Nurses make £45,753 to £51,668 per annum.
What is a Psychiatrist?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialise in mental health and psychiatric illnesses.
What education do you need to become a Psychiatrist? Psychiatrists need to complete a five-year medicine degree, as well as a two-year general foundation programme and three years of core psychiatry training.
Annual salary for Psychiatrists in the UK: The average NHS Psychiatrist earns £74,770 per annum.[x]
What is a Mental Health Counsellor? Mental Health Counsellors help people to manage, treat, and overcome addiction and other mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
What education do you need to become a Mental Health Counsellor? Technically, there are no formal qualification requirements to call oneself a counsellor in the UK.[xi] However, most employers and clients will expect you to have a 3-year BA, followed by a master’s degree in mental health counselling.
Annual salary for Mental Health Counsellors in the UK: Annual salaries start at £20,000 to £26,000. However, with experience and specialisation, private practice counsellors can earn more than £40,000 per annum.
If you’re wondering “how do I get a job in mental health,” this section is for you.
A sense of genuine care and compassion is required for anyone who wants to enter into a mental healthcare career path. Anyone thinking about applying for jobs in the mental health sector needs to have specific skills and qualities. These include:
If you have these personal attributes, you then need to undertake the correct training and education.[xii] For all of the careers listed above, you will need a three-year BA course. To work as a psychiatrist or a psychologist, you will also need a master’s degree and a doctorate. In addition to education, you also need intensive on-the-job experience, which comes in the form of apprenticeships and practicums.
It’s a good idea to ‘test the waters’ by taking a few online healthcare courses to find out if you truly have an interest in the subject matter before embarking on a lengthy education programme.
These are rewarding career choices that serve a crucial role in the healthcare system.
Does a career in mental health sound like the right path for you?
Epilepsy Foundation (2016). Epilepsy and Psychological Disorders. [online] Epilepsy Foundation. Available at: https://www.epilepsy.com/article/2016/11/epilepsy-and-psychological-disorders#:~:text=All%20psychological%20and%20cognitive%20symptoms [Accessed 15 Dec. 2020].
Indeed (2020). NHS Psychiatrist Salaries in the United Kingdom | Indeed.co.uk. [online] www.indeed.co.uk. Available at: https://www.indeed.co.uk/cmp/Nhs/salaries/Psychiatrist [Accessed 15 Dec. 2020].
Institute, EER (2020). Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) Salary London, United Kingdom – SalaryExpert. [online] www.salaryexpert.com. Available at: https://www.salaryexpert.com/salary/job/licensed-marriage-and-family-therapist-lmft/united-kingdom/london#:~:text=An%20entry%20level%20licensed%20marriage [Accessed 15 Dec. 2020].
MentalHealth.gov (2020). What Is Mental Health? [online] Mentalhealth.gov. Available at: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health [Accessed 12 Dec. 2020].
Mind (2020). Causes. [online] www.mind.org.uk. Available at: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/mental-health-problems-introduction/causes/#:~:text=Although%20lifestyle%20factors%20including%20work [Accessed 15 Dec. 2020].
Prospects (2018). Mental health nurse job profile | Prospects.ac.uk. [online] Prospects.ac.uk. Available at: https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/mental-health-nurse [Accessed 15 Dec. 2020].
Prospects (2019). How to become a counsellor | Prospects.ac.uk. [online] Prospects.ac.uk. Available at: https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/counsellor [Accessed 15 Dec. 2020].
Prospects (2020). Counselling psychologist job profile | Prospects.ac.uk. [online] www.prospects.ac.uk. Available at: https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/counselling-psychologist#:~:text=Counselling%20psychologists%20starting%20as%20a [Accessed 15 Dec. 2020].
Roberts, K. (2018). 39 Celebrities Who Have Opened Up About Mental Health. [online] Harper’s BAZAAR. Available at: https://www.harpersbazaar.com/celebrity/latest/g15159447/celebrities-depression-anxiety-mental-health/ [Accessed 15 Dec. 2020].
Rosenburg McKay, D. (2011). Do You Want a Career in Mental Health? [online] The Balance Careers. Available at: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/mental-health-careers-525640 [Accessed 12 Dec. 2020].
UCAS (2015). Social worker. [online] UCAS. Available at: https://www.ucas.com/ucas/after-gcses/find-career-ideas/explore-jobs/job-profile/social-worker#:~:text=To%20become%20a%20social%20worker%2C%20you%20will%20need%20to%20study [Accessed 15 Dec. 2020].
Wise, I. (2015). Want a job in mental health social work? Here’s our step-by-step guide. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/careers/careers-blog/want-job-mental-health-social-work-step-by-step-guide [Accessed 19 Aug. 2019].
You’ve had a callback, and you’re scheduled for an interview for a new job that you really want. You’re excited about the interview…. That is until you find out that it’s a competency-based interview.
Your confidence and vast well of experience feel like they’ve flown out the window, and you start to get nervous and unsettled. Maybe you won’t nail this interview, after all… Does this sound familiar? Are you intimidated by the idea of a competency-based interview? Maybe you aren’t even sure what a competency-based interview is, and what it entails?
You can rest easy. Our guide to competency-based interviews will set you up for success and help you to prepare with confidence, calm, and skill.
A competency-based interview, sometimes referred to as a behavioural, structured, or situational interview, is specifically designed to assess your skills in one or more areas. They are based on the idea that your past behaviour is the best predictor of your future performance. Therefore, the interviewer will want to know all about specific instances from your past.[i]
While you might encounter a competency-based interview in any sector, they are most common with large graduate recruiters.
Rather than an unstructured back and forth conversation that flows naturally, your interviewer will ask you questions from a set list. The questions have all been carefully designed to learn more about how you have handled specific situations in the past. Your answers are then checked against predetermined criteria, and the interviewer will assign marks to your responses.[ii]
The interviewer will systematically ask you a set list of questions. Each question is designed to learn more about how you would react to specific situations, and to gain more insight into your competencies. While you might feel like you need online psychology courses just to wrap your head around this interview style, it’s easier than you might think – it only requires practice, practice, practice.
While every competency-based interview will differ depending on the industry and position you’re applying to, there are some common questions that you can expect to hear variations of during your interview.
We can’t stress this enough – the best way to answer competency-based questions is to be prepared. While you may be a jocular individual who excels in traditional informal interviews, your sparkling conversation skills will be of less help in a structured competency-based interview.[iii]
To prepare for your competency-based interview, you need to do the following:
As with any interview, employers want specific things from candidates. They want to know that you have drive, passion, creativity, and a desire to learn new skills.[v]
Some of the most common competencies interviewers are looking for include:
Of course, the typical interview common sense still applies, perhaps even more so. Make sure you arrive on time, dressed impeccably, and with a printed copy of your CV.
Now that you know the basics of a competency-based interview, here are some closing thoughts to implement on the big day:
With these tips and preparation methods, you’re ready to ace your next competency-based job interview. Good luck!
Cheary, M. (2018). Competency-based interviews: What you need to know. [online] reed.co.uk. Available at: https://www.reed.co.uk/career-advice/competency-based-interviews-what-you-need-to-know/ [Accessed 19 Nov. 2020].
Indeed Careers (2019). How to Use the STAR Interview Response Technique | Indeed.com. [online] Indeed.com. Available at: https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/interviewing/how-to-use-the-star-interview-response-technique [Accessed 19 Nov. 2020].
Mason, D. (2019). Competency-based interviews | Prospects.ac.uk. [online] Prospects.ac.uk. Available at: https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/interview-tips/competency-based-interviews [Accessed 14 Nov. 2020].
Ryan, L. (2016). 12 Qualities Employers Look for When They’re Hiring. [online] Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2016/03/02/12-qualities-employers-look-for-when-theyre-hiring/?sh=78f8f7262c24 [Accessed 19 Nov. 2020].
Seager, C. (2020). How to handle competency-based interview questions. [online] TotalJobs. Available at: https://www.totaljobs.com/advice/how-to-handle-competency-based-interview-questions [Accessed 14 Nov. 2020].
Are you an adult thinking about retaking your GCSEs as a private candidate? The very idea can be intimidating. But did you know that 55,000 adults took GCSEs in maths and English in 2018/19 alone?[i] You’re certainly not alone.
For adults returning to education or trying to upskill for their job, taking GCSEs as a private candidate is a big step. Getting these vital qualifications will help you unlock opportunities, attain higher degrees, and gain a leg up when applying for new roles. Many employers require 5 GCSEs in a good pass (or higher), with maths and English the most common subjects required.
Most mature students choose to study for their GCSEs in a one-year course, either online or in-person on weekends and evenings.[ii] By retaking your GCSEs and continuing on to your A levels (and maybe even other higher education), you will open up a whole new set of doors into your future. However, it’s not just adults who return to take their GCSEs as a private candidate. Anyone who is taking their exams after being home-schooled, privately tutored, or self-taught will also be taking their exams as a private candidate.
Yes, absolutely. You can choose to sit your exams privately even after being taught in a traditional secondary school. However, most people who choose to take their GCSEs private fit one or more of the following categories:
The short answer? Absolutely anyone can sit GCSEs. However, if you’re not prepared, you’re not likely to do very well on the exams. GCSEs have no formal entry requirements and no educational pre-requisites. Most people associate GCSEs with teenagers between 14 – 16, but the reality is that anyone can take them. You don’t need to be attending secondary school to take formal GCSE exams at a college or a school.
If you’re worried about being the only adult in a GCSEs course, please don’t fret. As mentioned above, more than 55,000 adults sat their exams privately in 2018/19. Despite knowing this, many adults feel worried that they won’t be able to keep up with the class or understand the core concepts. They feel too out of touch and ‘rusty,’ and worry they won’t be successful.
However, these feelings soon go away. You’ll get into the groove, and before you know it, you’ll be loving your new life as a student. It’s also worth remembering that your life experience and older age can help you more than you might think. Teenagers tend to be less responsible and more easily distracted from their learning tasks. Mature students tackle their work with a sense of seriousness and a strong work ethic. After all, they’re paying for the privilege of being there![iii]
There are countless benefits of taking your GCSEs as an adult. Your employability will improve, and potential employers will be impressed, which means your wages will likely increase. Leaning keeps your brain healthy and agile and improves your mental faculties over time.[iv] Remember – without risks, there are no rewards. Take the leap!
How can you take GCSE exams privately?
Booking your GCSE exams is easier than you might think – just follow these simple steps.
Step 1: Book a GCSE preparation course to help you prepare for the rigorous exams.
Step 2: Choose where you want to sit your exams. For some subjects, you may only have one exam location in your area, which limits your options. However, for the more popular topics, such as Maths and English, there will be a range of sites to choose from, with schools and colleges being the most popular.
Step 3: Find out when the GCSEs take place so that you can get your space locked in and booked in advance. The exam dates are set at a national level, and spaces can fill up quickly. If you don’t book in advance, you can easily miss out. Aim to get them booked at least six months in advance.
Step 4: Don’t see a location and time online that works for you? Call and speak to the exam boards directly. There are occasionally exams scheduled that are not listed online. Similarly, if you don’t see your local college or school on the online lists, call them directly and ask if they allow private candidates to take exams on-site.
Step 5: Pay the fees. As a private GCSE candidate, your exams are not free. You’ll need to pay for each one individually at the time of booking. The costs vary (see below), but you can usually expect to pay around £100 per exam. This fee is not typically refundable or changeable, so make sure you’re booking the correct date and time.
Step 6: Have the right information to hand, including your name and date of birth, your address and phone number, your Unique Candidate Identifier (UCI), and the correct exam code for your course. If you are unsure of your exam code, speak to your GCSE course coordinator.
Step 7: Arrive on time for your exam. Once the big day has arrived, it’s important to show up on time and ready for the test.
When you arrive to take your exam, make sure you have the following essential items with you, as you’ll need them to take the test.
You may not use blue ink, highlighters, or Tippex on your exam papers. You should also ensure that your smartwatch and mobile phone are switched off and stored in your bag – if they ring or vibrate, you could be disqualified. If you can leave them at home or in the car, even better.
If you have any questions about what you may and may not bring into the exam room, get in touch with your specific exam centre.
There are plenty of exam centres around the UK that accept private candidates. The exams themselves are not usually included in the cost of your GCSE course, and so you have to organise these on your own. The exams are generally held in colleges and schools – find more information here.
You should also get in touch with the local exam board (detailed above) – they can provide you with in-depth information for how you can book your private GCSEs.
Most GCSE exams occur towards the end of the school year in May and June. The most popular GCSEs, Maths and English, are also often offered towards the beginning of the next school year, usually in October and November. It pays to find out these dates in advance so that you can plan your study schedule.
Private GSCE fees range between £37 to £200 per exam. These fees depend on the particular GCSE and where you choose to sit them. You can often find a better rate by shopping around and asking different exam centres.
If you are taking online GCSE courses, it’s up to you to book your exams privately. The three most popular exam boards are AQA, Edexcel, and Cambridge Assessment International. You can find a list of private exam centres across the UK here.
While you might worry that you are too old to study for and take your GSCEs, you’re never too old to love learning. If you ever doubt yourself, just think of James O’Neil in Basingstoke. This 81-year-old grandfather passed his English GCSE more than 65 years after he left school at the age of 16.[v] The Irish pensioner, a master welder in his working years, wanted to improve his spelling and grammar after learning much of his primary school education in Gaelic. All for the love of learning!
If Mr O’Neil can do it, so can you. Good luck on your new educational path!
Brody, A. (2007). Mental reserves keep brains agile. The New York Times. [online] 11 Nov. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/11/health/11iht-11brod.8685746.html [Accessed 21 Jan. 2020].
French, K. (2020). Inspiring grandfather passes his GCSE English qualification at 81. [online] Andover Advertiser. Available at: https://www.andoveradvertiser.co.uk/news/regional/basingstoke/18675343.basingstoke-granddad-81-passes-english-gcse-qualification/ [Accessed 17 Nov. 2020].
Gevorgyan, A. (2017). Top Universities. [online] Top Universities. Available at: https://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/student-stories/8-great-things-about-being-mature-student-university [Accessed 3 Dec. 2019].
NCC Home Learning (2020). Retaking your GCSEs as an adult – it’s not too late. [online] Latest News. Available at: https://www.ncchomelearning.co.uk/blog/gcses-adult/ [Accessed 17 Nov. 2020].
Stevenson, A. (2020). Why adults benefit from GCSEs too. [online] FE News. Available at: https://www.fenews.co.uk/featured-article/53974-why-adults-benefit-from-gcses-too [Accessed 17 Nov. 2020].
BTEC Diplomas are more popular than ever. If you’ve ever considered studying while earning hands-on experience and gaining industry contacts, a BTEC diploma could be the perfect option.
This guide will give you all the information you need to get started on your path to a BTEC qualification.
BTEC, which stands for the Business and Technology Education Council, are specialist and/or vocational qualifications related to specific fields and trades. By combining practical hands-on experience with theory and classroom learning, BTEC qualifications help you gain entry into a field or industry. You get the knowledge, practice, and industry connections you need to succeed in your chosen career.
Did you know that there are more than 2,000 BTEC qualifications available in 16 sectors?[i] You can earn BTECs at an entry-level all the way through to level 7 (which is equivalent to a postgraduate level).
Why choose a BTEC Diploma? Simply put – they’re designed specifically for students who know they want to work in a specific field or industry, but they haven’t quite settled on exactly what role they’d like to pursue. A BTEC allows you to ‘try on’ and assess a number of different positions within a sector before you commit to your career path.
You can study for a BTEC on its own, or you can take a BTEC at a Level 2 or 3 alongside other academic qualifications. You can also include a BTEC in your apprenticeship programme to bolster your knowledge and improve your employability.
The 16 BTEC sectors include:
BTECs from these 16 categories are split into four levels of study, organised similarly to GCSEs:
In order to apply for a BTEC programme, you may need to fulfil certain entry requirements, but this depends on the college and specific BTEC course. In most cases, you’ll need between three and five GCSEs at grade 9 to 4, or A* to C.
Different types of qualifications include:
Once you’ve chosen the BTEC qualification that works best for your needs and educational pathway, it’s time to decide how they’ll fit into your schedule. Thankfully, BTECs are very flexible. Many students take them alongside GCSEs and A levels, while others choose to do BTECs instead of GCSEs and A levels.
Your BTEC course of study will be divided into units, each of which includes different areas of knowledge and skill-building that you’ll need when working in that sector. You’ll take the core BTEC units, which give you the foundation of the subject matter, as well as optional units that allow you to dig deeper into a topic or interest. At this point, you can make plans for your apprenticeship, further study, and/or employment.
During your course, you’ll complete a series of written or activity-based assignments. These might include planning a performance, filming a short video, making a webpage, or creating a business plan for an existing or imagined business. In some cases, you’ll work independently, while in others you’ll work in a team. No matter what, you’ll earn valuable real-world experience that you don’t typically get when studying A levels.
Your BTEC qualifications will help you reach your goals and embark on your career path. More employers and Higher Education institutions are choosing BTEC-qualified candidates than ever before.
After you complete your BTEC National qualification at a Level 3, you can enter into the second or third year of a University degree programme, a professional development programme, or an apprenticeship. If you continue to a Level 5, 6, or 7, you then have the equivalent of a postgraduate degree, and you are ready to enter into the workforce or specialised training.
Keep in mind that some BTEC National qualifications are recognised as technical certificates, which are a part of the apprenticeship framework and can earn you UCAS points.[iii] However, before you set your sights on University or higher education at a specific institution, ensure that they accept BTEC Nationals.
It’s essential to understand how BTEC grades work as you enter into this course of study.[iv]
Grades are calculated with a points-based scale, and you will always be given information on the individual specifications and how your grades will be assessed. Your grades are taken very seriously and are subject to quality assurance.
At the outset of each unit, you will receive specific information on the learning objectives of the course, the assessment criteria (what you need to do to reach Pass, Merit, or Distinction for each learning aim). Upon completion of each BTEC First unit, learners are given a grade of Distinction, Merit, Pass, or Unclassified. Next Generation BTEC Firsts include a Level 1 Pass (at the unit and qualification levels), and a Distinction* grade at the qualification level.
Your unit grades will reflect your personal achievements in different areas of knowledge, while your qualification grades reflect your performance during the entire course. For more information about how grades are calculated and what you can do to excel, speak with your course instructor.
All teachers and tutors are committed to assigning fair and honest grades. They receive extensive standardisation training to ensure that they understand the rubrics and apply them fairly across the student population.
British Universities accept students into programmes of study based on the number of UCAS points they have accrued. If you are hoping to earn UCAS tariff points for your BTEC qualifications, you need to understand how the points are awarded.
The UCAS system awards points based on grades achieved in BTECs and A levels. It is vital that you check the number of points required for admittance into your University and course of choice.
Here are the UCAS conversions for some of the most popular BTEC qualifications.
|Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma||
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma
|Grade Tariff points:
D* D* D* – 168
D* D* D – 160
D*DD – 152
DDD – 144
DDM – 128
DMM – 112
MMM – 96
MMP – 80
MPP – 64
PPP – 48
|Grade Tariff points:
D* D* – 112
D* D – 104
DD – 96
DM – 80
MM – 64
MP – 48
PP – 32
|Size band: 4 + 4 + 4 = 12
Grade bands: 4 – 14
|Size band: 4 + 4 = 8
Grade bands: 4 – 14
|BTEC Lvl 3 National Foundation Diploma||BTEC Lvl 3 National Extended Certificate||BTEC Lvl 3 National Certificate
|Grade Tariff points:
D* – 84
D – 72
M – 48
P – 24
|Grade Tariff points:
D* – 56
D – 48
M – 32
P – 16
|Grade Tariff points:
D* – 28
D – 24
M – 16
P – 8
|Size band: 3 + 3 = 6
Grade bands: 4 – 14
|Size band: 4
Grade bands: 4 – 14
|Size band: 2
Grade bands: 4 – 14
For easy comparison, here are the UCAS points for A levels:
A* – 56
A – 48
B – 40
C – 32
D – 24
E – 16
There’s no doubt that both BTECs and A levels help you gain mastery of a topic and give you the knowledge you need for your career. Both qualifications give you a certificate that allows you to apply for further study at University and/or apply for certain jobs.
The main difference is that BTEC qualifications give you the chance to do a lot of practical and ‘hands-on’ work alongside your studies, while A level courses include more lectures, exams, oral presentations, and written essays. As with A levels, some BTECs are equivalent to GCSEs; it just depends on the level you complete.
BTECs allow for a lot of flexibility, so much so that some people choose to do BTECs and A Levels concurrently – at the same time. You can also work on a BTEC qualification on a part-time or full-time basis at college or Uni. Feel free to mix and match and choose the options that work best for you.
It’s important to note that a BTEC Subsidiary Diploma is equivalent to one A-level, a BTEC Diploma is equal to two A levels, and a BTEC Extended Diploma is the equivalent to three A-levels.
Before you embark on your BTEC Diploma, it’s important that you understand how BTECs compare to A level and GCSE grades.[v]
As mentioned above, you can choose from more than 2,000 BTEC qualifications across 16 different sectors. According to Pearson, an official exams board, how do the grades stack up against A levels and GCSEs?[vi]
Here is a simple chart to help you understand the comparison between A level grades and BTEC grades:
|BTEC grade||UCAS tariff||UCAS equivalence to A-Level||Equivalence to A Levels|
|Distinction||48||A||Between B and C|
|Merit||32||C||Between C and D|
|Pass||16||E||Between D and E|
It’s crucial that you speak directly with your university department of choice to ensure that they accept BTEC qualifications. While most do, confirming this in advance will prevent disappointment or wasted time.
You can absolutely get into Uni with a BTEC qualification. In fact, more than 100,000 BTEC students do just that each year and are admitted directly into the final year of many degree programmes.[vii] This means you won’t have to redo any subjects or be forced to sit through lessons about knowledge you already have, saving you both time and money.
Approximately 95% of UK universities accept BTECs, including prestigious institutions in the Russell Group. Recently, certain universities in the United Arab Emirates have also started to accept British BTECs, which expands your horizons even further.
Nearly one-quarter of all Uni students in 2015 earned their place with a BTEC qualification. In many instances, instructors find BTEC students a pleasure to have in their course, as they have a better grasp of the amount of independent study required at a degree level. After all, they’re already used to the amount of portfolio work Uni demands.
To move from a BTEC to a university degree, there are two common pathways:
If you’re planning to apply to University with a BTEC qualification, keep the following factors in mind:
The most popular BTEC subjects often change to meet the demands of the economy and the job market.[viii]
As of 2018, the five most common subjects at Level 3 were Business, Health & Social Care, Applied Science, Information Technology/Computing, and Sport. At Level 2, the five most popular subjects were Sport, Health & Social Care, Business, Performing Arts, and Information Technology/Computing. Which subjects are you most keen to study?
Many students get wrapped up in the idea that GCSEs and A levels are the only way to enter University or get on their desired right career path, and they forget about BTECs.
A BTEC Diploma can arm you with the knowledge and experience to excel in more than 2000 different roles across 16 sectors. Offering as much prestige and value as GCSEs and A levels and arguably even more employability, more and more students across the UK are seeking BTEC qualifications over other options. Which BTEC qualification best suits your needs?
Higher Education Liaison Officers Association (2018). Can you get into University if you’re studying Btecs? – The Uni Guide. [online] www.theuniguide.co.uk. Available at: https://www.theuniguide.co.uk/advice/ucas-application/can-you-get-into-university-if-youre-studying-btecs [Accessed 18 Nov. 2020].
Johnson, L. (2014). UK qualifications. [online] Available at: https://www.ucas.com/sites/default/files/2015-uk-qualifications.pdf [Accessed 18 Nov. 2020].
Knight, M. (2018). What is a BTEC, and why is it seen as a popular alternative to A levels? [online] Youth Employment UK. Available at: https://www.youthemployment.org.uk/btec-popular-alternative-levels/#:~:text=A%20key%20difference%20is%20that [Accessed 18 Nov. 2020].
McGinley, M. (2018). Quick guide to BTECs – The Uni Guide. [online] www.theuniguide.co.uk. Available at: https://www.theuniguide.co.uk/advice/a-level-choices/what-are-btecs [Accessed 17 Nov. 2020].
Pearson (2018). 2018 BTEC results data shows more students acquiring the skills required to meet the changing needs of employers. [online] www.pearson.com. Available at: https://www.pearson.com/uk/about-us/news-and-policy/news/2018/11/2018-btec-results-data-shows-more-students-acquiring-the-skills-required-to-meet-the-changing-needs-of-employers.html [Accessed 18 Nov. 2020].
Pearson (2019). Pearson qualifications | Edexcel, BTEC, LCCI and EDI | Pearson qualifications. [online] Pearson.com. Available at: https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/home.html [Accessed 18 Nov. 2020].
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Pizzichini, L. (2013). Change for Good: BTEC on the move – Collins | Freedom to Teach. [online] Collins | Freedom to Teach. Available at: https://freedomtoteach.collins.co.uk/change-for-good-btec-on-the-move/ [Accessed 18 Nov. 2020].
[ii] : https://freedomtoteach.collins.co.uk/change-for-good-btec-on-the-move/
Teaching is a rewarding career, but for some people, it isn’t quite the right fit. Some people want a more technical role, a higher rate of pay, or a bigger challenge in a different field.
The daily routine might be getting you down, or maybe you want a more challenging role. You might be overwhelmed by the constant pressures facing you as a teacher, particularly as you are forced to teach your lessons from afar over Zoom or take online teaching courses.
If you are considering leaving your career as a teacher, you’re not alone. Plenty of people choose to leave this honourable profession for a wide variety of reasons, and they are highly sought after in a number of fields. Where will your training take you?
The world is your oyster. You might feel compelled to rush into a new career – if you have the resources, why not follow your dreams?
There are plenty of other fields where you can apply your training, education, and skills. Some of the following alternative careers for teachers are related to education, while others are in different fields but require many of the same training and proficiencies. Here are some of the most interesting and rewarding alternative careers for headteachers and teachers.
Retraining for a new job requires a high level of organisation, funds, and a commitment to learning. As you already have a degree and extensive training to be a teacher, you may not need any additional training for your dream career – it just depends on your chosen career.
The public sector is the largest UK employer, and it’s another career that allows you to use your skills to serve the public. Consider a role in healthcare, local government, administration, or civil service. Public sector jobs are varied and diverse – you could work in police administration, NHS planning and organisation, or roles with the local council.[v] While you might need additional training, with most of these roles, you can retrain on the job.
Are you creative? Are you a good writer? Do you enjoy coming up with witty taglines and pun-filled captions? If so, you might make the perfect social media manager. All it takes is a few online courses or an intensive training programme in social media, and you’ll be ready to apply to build your portfolio. Soon, you can apply to big corporations, cool start-ups, and non-profits that you admire. Some training options to consider include Hootsuite Academy and Facebook Blueprint, which is free.
Educational psychologists have traditionally been linked with the teaching profession; teaching experience used to be a mandatory requirement for this career path. You already enjoy working with learners and understand the tenets of pedagogy, so you are uniquely suited for this career. You will need to obtain a degree in psychology (if you don’t have one), and you’ll also need post-graduate training specifically in educational psychology.[vi]
Are you an artsy type with an eye for design and art? If you want the freedom to express your creative side, graphic design could be for you. You’ll design branding packages, images for ad campaigns, and logos for companies at all levels. While some people become graphic designers without any specific training, you’ll have a better chance of success if you learn the basics. Most arts universities offer comprehensive graphic design training.
A career as a midwife is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling options out there. As you support women throughout their pregnancies and help deliver babies, you’ll truly be making a difference. [vii] Midwives are in demand all over the country in both the public and private sectors. You’ll need to complete a degree-level programme that is approved by the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC).
If you’re in a rut, you’re not alone. Even if teaching isn’t for you, you can put your existing skills and training to use in a variety of other jobs retrain for a completely different career.
Association of Educational Psychologists (2019). AEP – Want to be an EP? [online] Aep.org.uk. Available at: https://www.aep.org.uk/training/want-to-be-an-ep/ [Accessed 18 Oct. 2020].
Farrah, M. (2011). How to change your career and become a midwife. [online] www.nurses.co.uk. Available at: https://www.nurses.co.uk/nursing/blog/how-to-change-your-career-and-become-a-midwife/ [Accessed 18 Oct. 2020].
Higginbotham, D. (2019). Overview of the public services sector in the UK | Prospects.ac.uk. [online] Prospects.ac.uk. Available at: https://www.prospects.ac.uk/jobs-and-work-experience/job-sectors/public-services-and-administration/overview-of-the-public-services-sector-in-the-uk [Accessed 18 Oct. 2020].
NHS (2020). Learner Support. [online] GOV.UK. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/learner-support [Accessed 16 Oct. 2020].
NHS. (2019). Social worker. [online] Health Careers. Available at: https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/explore-roles/wider-healthcare-team/roles-wider-healthcare-team/clinical-support-staff/social-worker [Accessed 16 Oct. 2020].
Prospects (2020). Human resources officer job profile | Prospects.ac.uk. [online] www.prospects.ac.uk. Available at: https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/human-resources-officer [Accessed 16 Oct. 2020].
Sheppard, E. (2016). Drained by stress, we quit teaching to start thriving businesses. [online] The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2016/sep/02/drained-stress-quit-teaching-start-business [Accessed 16 Oct. 2020].
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world forever, impacting all aspects of social, economic, political, and community life. No sector has been hit as hard as the education sector, with teachers and administration struggling to reorganise and teach affectively both online and in socially distant classrooms.
COVID-19 has turned education on its head. Parents are struggling as their little ones try to learn on complicated Zoom chats, teens are panicking as they study for their GSCEs and A-levels, and university students are trapped in dorm accommodation as campuses are locked down.
While it’s easy to list the negative ways that COVID-19 has impacted education, there have been some positives as well. Teachers and students alike have been forced to get creative, and some parents have embraced the chance to spend more time with their children and get involved in their lessons.
The most significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education in the UK has been the move towards e-learning, in which the teaching occurs remotely, and student access lessons on digital platforms.
Data shows that 43% of the students in the most disadvantaged state schools are completing less than an hour of schoolwork each day. That is compared with just 14% of students from more advantaged state schools whose teachers said the same.
The long-term effects of the disruption in education due to COVID-19 are worrying. Past studies that look at the after-effects of natural disasters show that they have lasting consequences on children’s learning. As a result, many go on to max out at lower levels of education, which hinders them in the rest of their lives. “Lower educational attainment is associated with lower earnings, higher crime rates, poorer health and mortality outcomes, and reduced participation in political and social institutions.”[iv]
No matter what happens, it’s clear that more needs to be done to ensure that disadvantaged students are supported and given extra resources so that they can catch up and stop falling behind. If we don’t do more to close this education gap, all pretences of a ‘meritocracy’ will be fully crushed. Without fair access to education, the poor will get poorer.
After the trials and tribulations of COVID-19, never let it be said that students and teachers are not resilient and adaptable![v] More than 1.2 billion children around the world are or were out of the classroom at the height of the pandemic. The future is up in the air in the case of another lockdown.
Education has changed radically during the pandemic, and e-learning is more crucial than ever. While many parents and teachers bemoan the inefficient nature of online lessons, there may be more to the issue. Studies show that online learning can improve information retention and take far less time than traditional classroom learning, which the popularity of online courses demonstrates.[vi]
It seems that the rushed nature of the COVID-19 response could be to blame. After all, teachers have been given unclear guidance, ever-shifting rules to adhere to, and conflicting information the whole way through the pandemic. According to SecEd, “Misinformation about COVID-19, often peddled on social media, is causing “confusion and parental anxiety” and hampering schools’ efforts to fully reopen this term.”[vii]
But even in light of this confusion, many students, parents and teachers alike are starting to get into a groove. They’re relishing some of the positives that our new e-learning world can offer.
Teachers report that the most noticeable benefit of online learning is that they can take the time to individualise the experience for different studies. They no longer have to pause the lesson to deal with certain students’ distracting behaviours (although, the onus for that has been shifted to the parents). As a result, students can progress at their own pace, without the pressures of the classroom.
Online learning also allows teachers to easily lay out assignments, set deadlines, and break information down into manageable ‘chunks’ that students have an easier time digesting. It’s easy to link to additional information, YouTube videos, and relevant articles to assist in the learning process.[viii]
Google Documents allow teachers and students to access the same document at the same time, giving teachers the opportunity to provide real-time feedback. This saves them time and effort – they don’t need to spend extra hours of their personal time to mark assignments or send comments.
While the current system is far from ideal, the resiliency and creativity of teachers, parents and students are awe-inspiring, with more innovation sure to come.
The COVID-19 regulations for schools in England are continually shifting, so make sure you check with your local school for the most up to date information.
As of September 2020, all schools welcomed students back with no rotas or staggered learning.[ix] Schools are responsible for following all health and safety laws, which include conducting risk assessments and putting control methods into place.
All schools must enforce the following:
No matter what, the COVID-19 pandemic will go down in history as a massive experiment on the very nature of modern learning. Laura McInerney, an education journalist, wonders, “the big philosophical question is: to what extent are schools there to facilitate the economic productivity of adults, versus the learning of children? That is, what if the learning loss isn’t as bad as we expect, and the children actually benefit from some elements of lockdown, for example from closer one-on-one attention, and time with their parents?” Only time will tell.
Will e-learning remain a vital part of education even after the pandemic is under control? Now that schools and parents alike have invested heavily into online learning platforms and modified lessons and methods to suit this paradigm, it may be here to stay.
Franklin-Wallis, O. (2020). This is how the school shutdown will affect children for many years. [online] Wired UK. Available at: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/coronavirus-children-schools-impact [Accessed 13 Oct. 2020].
Henshaw, P. (2020). COVID-19: Online misinformation and unclear national guidance hampering schools. [online] The Sec. Available at: https://www.sec-ed.co.uk/news/COVID-19-online-misinformation-and-unclear-national-guidance-hampering-schools-ofsted-re-opening-coronavirus-1/ [Accessed 18 Oct. 2020].
Li, C. (2020). COVID-19 has changed education forever — here’s how. [online] Apolitical. Available at: https://apolitical.co/en/solution_article/COVID-19-has-changed-education-forever-heres-how [Accessed 5 May 2020].
Lyst, C. (2020). Coronavirus: What is a blended model of learning? BBC News. [online] 22 May. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-52412171 [Accessed 17 Oct. 2020].
Mills, J. (2020). Almost 90% of teachers say social distancing impossible when schools reopen. [online] Metro. Available at: https://metro.co.uk/2020/08/31/almost-90-teachers-say-social-distancing-impossible-when-schools-reopen-13201745/ [Accessed 17 Oct. 2020].
NHS (2020). Guidance for full opening: schools. [online] GOV.UK. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools [Accessed 13 Oct. 2020].
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2020). Strengthening online learning when schools are closed: The role of families and teachers in supporting students during the COVID-19 crisis. [online] OECD. Available at: http://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/strengthening-online-learning-when-schools-are-closed-the-role-of-families-and-teachers-in-supporting-students-during-the-COVID-19-crisis-c4ecba6c/ [Accessed 18 Oct. 2020].
Pinto, S. and Bailey Jones, J. (2020). The Long-Term Effects of Educational Disruptions. [online] www.richmondfed.org. Available at: https://www.richmondfed.org/publications/research/coronavirus/economic_impact_COVID-19_05-22-20 [Accessed 18 Oct. 2020].
Wilson, M. (2020). The coronavirus will widen the education gap in the UK. [online] www.aljazeera.com. Available at: https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2020/4/12/the-coronavirus-will-widen-the-education-gap-in-the-uk/ [Accessed 13 Oct. 2020].
US Department of Education (2010). Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies — October 2010 (PDF). [online] Available at: https://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf [Accessed 18 Oct. 2020].