The Parents' Guide to Every School Year

A Parent's Guide To Key Stage 5 (A-Levels)

Year 12/13 (A-Levels)

Year 12 marks the beginning of the end of your child’s school career. A-Levels are the final chapter in your child’s school journey!

The next two years are guaranteed to be an emotional rollercoaster. Your child will be stressed, you’ll be stressed, everyone will be stressed. But that’s all part of the fun!

Your child will start taking their first steps into adulthood. They’ll have the workload of A-Levels, they might have romantic relationships, and they’ll gradually become more and more independent.

This is a lot for you and your child to deal with, so it’s really important that you’re both prepared for what’s to come.

Are A-Levels just like GCSEs?

Yes and no. Sure, A-Levels are like GCSEs in that you study a subject in-depth and are then examined on it.

However, A-Levels go far deeper into a subject than GCSEs. This is why most kids only study 3 subjects!

Your child is also expected to do a lot more independent learning. In other words, they’ll be expected to do some wider reading on their own, and form their own thoughts and opinions on a topic. Teachers aren’t going to spoon-feed your child anymore!

Also, the subject matter of A-Levels is more complex. Your child will find the work much more difficult than they did at GCSEs. Despite studying fewer subjects, they’ll find their workload has increased.

When should my child start A-Level revision?

Much like with their GCSEs, timing is important when it comes to your child’s revision. Too early and your child will grow bored and frustrated. Too late and they’ll be struggling to cram it all in.

Your child will generally be learning new information right up until the Easter Holidays. With exams starting in May, the Easter break provides a great opportunity for your child to start revising.

This gives them a good few months of revision — plenty of time to consolidate everything they’ve learnt without any last-minute cramming.

When are A-Level exams?

While the exact A-Level timetable changes from year to year, the A-Level exam period usually lasts from the middle of May to the middle of June.

How do A-Level grades work?

Unlike the slightly confusing number system for GCSEs, A-Levels return to the simpler letter grading that we’re all familiar with.

A-Levels are graded from A* to E, with A* generally being reserved for the highest-scoring students.

Looking Ahead

Of course, with A-Levels bringing your child’s school education to a close, your thoughts will be venturing forward to what happens next.

There’s a wealth of different options open to your child, including university, apprenticeships, gap years, and full-time employment.

The world is your child’s oyster, and that means they have a lot of important decisions to make.

University

If your child wants to go to university, then they need to start thinking about which universities they want to attend.

Most people submit their university applications by January of Year 13. For Oxbridge or medicine, the hard deadline is as early as October.

That means your child should really start looking at their university options in the later half of Year 12.

We’ve put together a complete university application guide that can help your child through the whole process.

Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are a great option for kids who have a career in mind and are less academically-inclined. Apprenticeships offer a faster route into the workplace, without the debt that university brings.

There are loads of apprenticeships available across a wide range of areas, including engineering, finance, and healthcare.

Each apprenticeship will have its own deadline. UCAS has a list of vacancies for your child to look at. New apprenticeship opportunities are added throughout the year.

Gap Years

Though many parents see them as a big holiday, gap years are a popular option for many students.

Taking a gap year doesn’t mean putting your feet up. While your child will have plenty of opportunity to enjoy themselves in exotic places, they’ll also be able to take on volunteering work, or even paid work.

This gives them amazing experiences that are valued by both universities and employers.

A gap year might also be a great choice if your child still needs some time to decide on a career path.

Full-time Employment

Of course, your child can also simply find a job and enter full-time employment. There are lots of jobs out there that don’t require anything more than A-Levels, and there are even some that don’t need those!

The End of the Journey

Year 13 brings your child’s school journey to a close. It promises to be an emotional time for all involved.

The best advice we can possibly give is this: Enjoy it!

Make the most of it while you still can. Even though your child might hate school now, they’ll look back on it fondly when they’re older.

We hope this guide has helped prepare you for things to come.

Here’s to the future!

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