/ College / A-Level Career Advice

L fauves 10 Sep 2019

Hi all,

Just looking for some friendly advice and this seemed a sensible place to ask..

My son is in year 10 and considering his options for study beyond GCSEs. He isn't academic (predicted Bs at best in a couple of subjects, mildly dyslexic). He is really involved in climbing and is currently on a NICAS Level 4 course at the local climbing centre. He also enjoys Snowboarding / Fencing / Swimming / Kayaking etc.

The (fee paying) school he attends offers a BTEC in PE in sixth form which would also probably involve him having to take another A Level on top. 

We are wondering whether it would be sensible for him, career wise, to stay on and study for a BTEC in PE or apply for a more vocational route (such as an Outdoor Adventure BTEC) as his ultimate ambition seems to be a climbing instructor or outdoor pursuits instructor.

Are there any qualifications you would suggest he should take on now to give him a "head start" so to speak? Any college recommendations? We are close enough to get to Hartpury if anyone has any experience of that?

Any advice much appreciated.


Roadrunner6 10 Sep 2019
In reply to fauves:

Does he not fancy PE teaching?

I'd be wary of the outdoor ed route.. its low paid menial work for the most part for a long time.

He can combine teaching and outdoors and have a solid career/security etc.

I'm wary of the outdoor Ad BTEC type things as I did my ML training with a group from a course and they were bloody hopeless. 

I teach science now, coach soccer and run an EVOC club (Env and outing club), and can/have worked as a guide through the summers. 

Post edited at 14:44
L fauves 10 Sep 2019
In reply to Roadrunner6:

Thanks for the swift response and advice. 
He hasn't expressed much interest in the PE teaching route, but I think if we could get him more involved in the sport at school this might change. I guess also he would need to do reasonably well in biology (coincidentally his favourite science!) to pursue a PE teaching career?

That was my main worry with the BTEC in Outdoor Adventure as I was a BTEC student myself (in the Arts) and 90% of the course were there because it was "easy"..

The only other thing worth mentioning is I think he is a little bit interested in being a paramedic and I suppose Hartpury offers the uniformed public service course as well.

summo 10 Sep 2019
In reply to fauves:

Be wary of 'Some' public services courses as they can be pitched very low. Mainly aiming at kids who don't pass anything and it's to get their core subjects and skills up to a level where they can do any job. Last chance saloon. 

Aim high. A modest pass in two A levels will look better than a soft touch btec(as you say). 

What about more vocational stuff, metal or woodwork, arts.... he might hate academic subjects, but could make a great plumber etc.  

L fauves 10 Sep 2019
In reply to summo:

Thanks for the heads up, that is a useful insight. 

Agreed, both myself and my wife did the arts route and then arts at university (Graphic Design & Fine Art).. he has expressed quite a significant interest in the arts/DT and we could help him out a lot with coursework etc. There is also a very good arts college fairly nearby.

I guess he could do one of those  top up courses in Outdoor Pursuits worst case scenario? Although I think (on minor research) they are really expensive and probably no more useful than just volunteering somewhere and getting some qualifications that way?

summo 10 Sep 2019
In reply to fauves:

Once he is over 18 anywhere that employs him would be expecting them to be working towards or have national governing body qualifications..  ML etc. Diversity is key, don't just pursue one activity. Apart from the obvious outdoor sports, many centres offer caving, archery, sailing etc.. Google the kind of places you or he thinks he might enjoy working at in say 3 years time and see what activities they offer. Or search for old job adverts. 

Be wary of the kind of courses that charge a couple of grand, with the promise of some low level quals..  in many cases you might be paying for the privilege of working for them everyday with their groups. Just ask all the obvious questions. 

It's tough for the young to go straight into outdoor work without being used as a slave for a few years. It's a lifestyle choice though, they'll barely make enough to keep him in beer, but with the right centre they will develop his group, personal skills and qualifications, it's purely down to how good or keen the senior staff are.  

Aspirational stuff have a search for the so called night watch / junior staff schemes at glenmore lodge or plas-y-brenin. Not many places and lots chasing though. 

badmarmot 10 Sep 2019
In reply to fauves:

Hi, just sent you a PM,

cheers Rob

wintertree 10 Sep 2019
In reply to fauves:

> My son is in year 10 and considering his options for study beyond GCSEs. He isn't academic (predicted Bs at best in a couple of subjects, mildly dyslexic).

Hope you don’t mind me arguing the case that dyslexia - mild or not - doesn’t indicate that someone is non-academic.  It’s a barrier that can be overcome, and that can stand between someone and a potential love of a field.

Obviously you know the lad and are basing your post on a lot more than the points you list and I wouldn’t want to suggest otherwise!  

> He also enjoys Snowboarding / Fencing / Swimming / Kayaking etc.

Odds are that pegging his career and income to them would sap that enjoyment.  It’s different for everyone but it’s something to keep in mind.

If you’re looking at teaching, then speak with university admissions tutors at several institutions offering well rated teacher training degrees and ask them about a candidate’s chances of getting in with a specific BTEC vs specific A-levels.  Also keep in mind that the independent sector doesn’t require any teacher qualifications although more places are trying to demonstrate feature parity with the state sector.

At age 16 my advice would be to do something he enjoys and is really interested in and do that.  Being good at something - anything - being motivated and achieving well is going to lead to more wide ranging personal development and employability than being funnelled down a pathway that switches you off.

Post edited at 19:17