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My son.. Please can I have advice

(56 Posts)
Happymind Mon 24-Feb-20 00:45:49

This isn't an AIBU, but I know this is one of the busy threads and I need as much advice as possible.

My son is 16 (almost 17) and is six months into his A-levels. He is suffering with depression and anxiety and is currently awaiting therapy sessions. He is finding his A-levels difficult due to the fact that he studying three different subjects and at the moment, it's an effort to get up and dressed for the day let alone find the motivation to study and get his head around his subjects.

After a long chat, we decided that it may be in his best interests to quit and look into studying one subject that he is interested in. I know this isn't possible to do with A Levels, but does anyone else know what is available to someone of his age in terms of studying for a qualification.

I find the whole further study options confusing having not looked into them properly beforehand. If he went into another form of education, would they accept him at this stage? And if he did have to wait until their intakes, would he be allowed to work until then? (I'm not sure seeing as they are meant to be in education until 18).

He is passionate about film studies and originally wanted to get his A levels to enable him to attend film school. If he doesn't do A Levels, is that still possible with another qualification?

Sorry for all the questions, I just feel desperately sorry for him and don't want his to waste his life away but equally don't want to force him to do something that is adding to his mental health issues.

Many thanks in advance.

pumpkinbump Mon 24-Feb-20 00:50:27

Is there a college nearby that does some sort of film course as a stepping stone to studying film at uni?

TheyDoDoThat Mon 24-Feb-20 00:53:18

BTEC or vocational courses at L3 are the equivalent of 3Alevels in terms of UCAS points. The hours will be the same but it will be one subject. (Ish)

The ish is that there will be a number of modules to complete and depending on the course structure if they run side by side of one after another. For example module 1 could be rabbits and module 2 horses. It could be the college structures it sept module 1 October module 2 or Monday module 1 Tuesday module 2 but both last sept Oct.

So it may not just be one thing to focus on if that makes sense.

TheyDoDoThat Mon 24-Feb-20 00:57:36

If it’s film he is interested in it is likely he would be offered L3 Creative Media Production. Most colleges will offer this.

MummytoE Mon 24-Feb-20 00:59:24

Sounds as if this is a really hard time for you guys and I'm hoping his therapy sessions will begin soon. His school should have some kinda careers advisor who could help with your questions or what about speaking directly to the admissions of a uni or college for example. I no where I am from it's possible to leave school at 16 and do highers at college. It's so hard watching our kids suffer but you sound like a great mum x

TheyDoDoThat Mon 24-Feb-20 01:02:19

Also for film school vocational courses are better in the sense that he would be building a practical portfolio of work in different aspects of media production. He will also get more experience using equipment and design and editing software.

R2G Mon 24-Feb-20 01:09:12

He can go to college to do a btec level 3 (level 3 btec is equivalent to gcses) in creative media production. It can be quite good for those suffering depression because it is less academic than a levels in the sense you do and create and are continually assessed. Likewise the college environment might suit him better and they usually have strong pastoral and a counsellor at college to supplement his current treatment.
He won't be able to join college until next September at this stage. A full time job doesn't sound like the right thing with depression.. However if his school careers could maybe help him seek a part time job and some volunteering until September that would give him space to recover as well as some structure. Find out if there is any local opportunities around film

janemaster Mon 24-Feb-20 01:21:52

I wonder if volunteering until he can start a relevant course in September might be the way forward? There might be opportunities in relevant organisations for example. It is also really important with depression that he has some kind of routine and gets out of the house. My biggest worry would be that in the time between leaving what he is doing and starting a new course, that he just stays in the house and gets more depressed.

TheAirbender Mon 24-Feb-20 01:26:37

Just to clarify what another poster said....L2 BTEC is GCSE equivalent. L3 is A Level equivalent and attracts UCAS points for Uni entry. I did a BTEC and loved it.

TheyDoDoThat Mon 24-Feb-20 01:28:22

My biggest worry would be that in the time between leaving what he is doing and starting a new course, that he just stays in the house and gets more depressed

Following on from this The course tutor may be able to set some work or part of the first terms assignment to keep him occupied.

Happymind Mon 24-Feb-20 01:33:09

Thank you all so much for your responses. It's really helpful and a huge relief for me to know there are other options available.

It's so tough watching him try to juggle it all. I'd much rather he do something that makes him happy, whilst also gaining some sort of qualification. I dont see the point of insisting he continues with A levels if its contributing to his depression, and at this rate he will fail any exams. It just seems a waste really.

TheMotherofAllDilemmas Mon 24-Feb-20 01:34:13

Please talk to the school/form tutor or careers advisor to find out what options may be open to him and what funding would be available. An apprenticeship may be another option BUT I would rather he had a break and take all the life changing decisions once he feels better and has a clearer idea of what direction he wants to follow.

Happymind Mon 24-Feb-20 01:35:37

Janemaster- absolutely! He has just spent most of the half term in his room with the blinds down.

He definitely needs a reason to get out of the house if awaiting enrolment for September.

Happymind Mon 24-Feb-20 01:35:58

Thank you all so much

Glitterpearl Mon 24-Feb-20 01:57:21

This is something really small I noticed in your post and I am not saying it to criticise but please don't refer to him stopping A levels as quitting.

Language and the way things are framed is so important, especially for young people and especially for people suffering with depression. Words like quit and fail can be quite loaded. You sound like a lovely mum so I just wanted to suggest that as a small way to help.

It is OK to decide that A levels aren't the right fit, and finding another path is a great idea. How does he feel about trying something different?

AhNowTed Mon 24-Feb-20 02:07:57

OP my daughter who is a brilliant student also suffered panic and anxiety. It's not that unusual given the pressure they are under. She is now at uni on a course of her choice:

Don't throw in the towel just yet.

Speak to his course tutors. Make an appointment and Really engage with them to find out what's going on.

He may be worrying unnecessarily. But you won't know what his possible outcomes are unless you talk to them.

It's very common.

AhNowTed Mon 24-Feb-20 02:22:26

Also my daughter was under immense pressure. Depressed and crying, and like your son holed up in her room.

We were surprised to find that she was skipping one subject (for 3 months - her tutor called us) in favour of another, because the other course tutor was more demanding.

Speak to the school. All is not lost.

I feel for your son. It can be overwhelming.

But don't give up yet.

Aveisenim Mon 24-Feb-20 03:27:55

Yes, they are supposed to stay in education (which frankly I think was silly of the government to put in place and was all about massaging unemployment figures, I remember how spent I felt after my GCSEs! I needed time to recover from all the studying), however after 16 it is legally their responsibility to be in education, not the parent's, they can still find work if they want to. BTECs are available in media studies, maybe he could look at finding voluntary work in the sector he's interested in to gain some experience in the meantime? He's not quitting, just following a different path to achieve his goals

Toomanygerbils Mon 24-Feb-20 03:34:49

Most course start September in college though. Feb is mid year

Littlemeadow123 Mon 24-Feb-20 04:48:29

Could he pull out and restart in september? Especially if his sixth form is made aware of the situation? Or do his subjects over three years instead of two?

erinaceus Mon 24-Feb-20 04:51:27

I agree with others that if his interest is vocational maybe he would be happier taking a different structure of course like a vocational course, but you might be looking at a September start for this.

I am not sure where the law stands on u18s and full-time study, but if he needs to get away from his current situation, would he be able to do anything with the following sorts of ideas:

See if he can find the motivation (not at all easy with anxiety and depression) to make a short film over the summer, stop-motion animation takes a long time and is absorbing or lots and lots of digital tools available.
do some work experience (anything vaguely related: Hospital radio? Social media for a charity? Advertising? Local news? Others may have other suggestions); take some short courses at an adult education college; go abroad to language school, make a video diary.

Sort of depends how bad his depression and anxiety are and also whether you know anyone who knows anyone in a vaguely related area of work with whom you might be able to exchange ideas. Also budget might be a factor.

Best of luck to both of you.

mathanxiety Mon 24-Feb-20 05:13:42

Is there any way you can get him into private treatment/therapy for his depression and anxiety?

I thin you need to address this issue first.

FortunesFave Mon 24-Feb-20 06:17:55

Best thing I did at this age was a Btech in drama....I was SO depressed doing A Levels.

gingersausage Mon 24-Feb-20 06:48:16

My daughter was in the same situation albeit a bit later in the year. She managed to get through her first year of A-levels, and on the day of the last exam (sometime in June I think) she said there was literally no way she was going back.

She had wanted from the beginning to be allowed to only take two A-Levels, as she felt it would be much easier to cope with mental health-wise, but nowhere would allow it. We’d looked into BTECs before she started her A-levels, but there was nothing on offer locally that she wanted to do.

Anyway, she basically quit 6th form and took the summer to get her head together a bit and then took a part time job in the September where she’s now been for three years. The official line is that 16-18 year olds HAVE to be in education or training, but I still don’t know what policies are in place to actually enforce that.

Everyone will tell you not to let him quit and education is the most important thing ever blah blah, but to me my daughter’s health and happiness was way more important. You can be educated at any point in your life.

Standrewsschool Mon 24-Feb-20 06:57:33

film

You may be able to do a Btec. or get an apprenticeship.

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