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BTEC level 3 rather than A levels.

(15 Posts)
VoldemortsNipple Fri 21-Oct-11 07:40:31

DD is doing GCSEs (y11) Last night she went with her friends to look at the community college to see what was on offer for next year. She has done an online survey to see what type of career would suit her, and decided that she would enjoy social work. This is the first career she has ever had an interest in.

The college offer a BTEC level 3 in health and social work (equivalent to 3 A levels) with the option to progress to an extended diploma.

I always assumed she would do A levels. She is old enough and sensible enough to make her own decisions. I don't want to dictate to her what to do. I understand that BTEC courses like this are credible, I did an access course myself. But I do want to support her to make the right choice of course. my main concern is she would limit her career choice if she took a BTEC route.

What advice should I give.

kritur Fri 21-Oct-11 07:59:14

I think the downfall of specialised BTECs is that children specialise too early and end up with qualifications that aren't useful for what they eventually decide they want to do. Your best bet would be to check with universities what their entrance requirements for degrees/diplomas in social work are. The BTEC is probably fine but if she changes her mind and wants to become say a primary school teacher then she might find it harder to get where she wants to go.

Kez100 Fri 21-Oct-11 14:19:59

I agree with Kritur. I have some experiences of this myself.

My daughter knows exactly what she wants to do and will be choosing Btec. She runs the risk of having something less useful if she changes her mind. She says she won't but, if she does, she will do A levels when she is that bit older instead.

I did a Btec myself. 20 years ago. I managed a Distinction in Business and Finance and - through the college network - was offered a training contract was a Chartered Accountant. I qualified a year earlier than my A level/degree mates and am now a partner in my own practice.

My boyfriend at that time was also an A level type student. He wanted to be a Graphic Designer and took Btec. He became a very successful one and now livesand works in Austrailia in that field.

I feel Btec is good if you have an aptitude for the subject and can do well. I have less experience of those who have finished Btec with a low grade. Both my boyfriend and I were Distinction scorers and, by coincidence, came top in our courses.

VoldemortsNipple Fri 21-Oct-11 15:09:32

Thanks for the replies. I agree about BTEC limiting choices. Although the course she is looking at does seem to be able to cover a wide range of careers, and at least it is a area where jobs are always needed. She also brought home info on media studies. She loves producing her own little films but DD is aware its a career she could chasing dreams for years.

I think I will encourage her to apply for both BTEC and A levels. She has another ten months before she decides. But what would universities prefare. The BTEC include 100 hours placement so surely that would give some advantage. Are A level students classed as being academically stronger.

VoldemortsNipple Fri 21-Oct-11 19:58:01

Ive just had a look on a couple of uni websites to see what they require. Can you believe they will consider you with just 5 GCSEs at C or above.

From what I can see, experience and enthusiasm seems to have more pulling power than good grades. One uni asked for 500 hours work experience to be considered. They also said any BTEC extended diploma would be considered, so maybe if DD did take that route and changed her mind about social work, it might not be completly useless.

kritur Fri 21-Oct-11 20:40:24

Social work isn't an academic degree, it's vocational so they tend to be more open to alternative qualifications and place value on work experience. So if she chooses that route, or something similar like nursing then she should be fine against A-level students. She's not in as strong a position if she changes her mind about what she wants to do. That's why A-levels are the most popular courses at post-16, they are a general preparation for further study and lets face it how many of us know at 15/16 what we're going to end up doing, I certainly didn't!

supersalstrawberry Fri 21-Oct-11 20:50:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bullinachinashop Fri 21-Oct-11 20:52:58

I disagree with the ability re limiting choices. I myself have a BTEC in a science subject. I went onto university and did a science degree. I then went on to do something completely different - chartered accountancy. I have to say though - compared with A levels - I have felt all along I have had to "convince" people. Generally I would think A levels are better (sorry)

Minx179 Fri 21-Oct-11 22:11:37

Ds1 did a BTEC in Engineering. He is now doing an apprenticeship and HNC.

Oddly enough one of the apprentices who started at the same time as DS had gone the A level route. However, the company running the apprenticeship scheme, is telling this lad that he needs to do the Level 3 Engineering BTEC, before they will let him do the HNC.

It appears that though he studied maths at a higher level doing A levels, than DS did doing the BTEC route, A levels don't necessarily give individuals the required practical experience that companies (or their training company) want.

If your DD wants to do social work could you look at the option of her doing A levels and getting a part time/voluntary job in the sector that appeals ie care assistant, youth worker etc? She then gets the practical element and experience (maybe some additional NVQ's), while keeping her options open.

VivaLeBeaver Fri 21-Oct-11 22:19:00

MAny years ago I did a btec nat diploma in business and finance instead of a levels. I applied for various deges and iirc correctly got offers for all of them. None were business courses, they were a range of criminology, sociology, and law degrees.

I think I do better with course work rather than exams so thought I'd do better on a btec course than doing a levels.

BuckminsterFullerene Fri 21-Oct-11 22:32:09

Whilst many of the BTEC courses on offer are just as rigorous as more 'traditional' courses, sadly the government are devaluing them with the introduction of the EBacc (at level 2, which is not necessarily a bad thing per se) and by making universities more selective due to funding cuts.

Separate A levels would keep her options more open. I would also reccommend attending a 6th form attached to a secondary school, rather than a college (certainly, I do here, with our local resources

BuckminsterFullerene Fri 21-Oct-11 22:33:08



Kez100 Sat 22-Oct-11 04:58:06

It's often as much down to the student individually. What about a child who isn't a great all rounder BUT is exceptionally good at one area of study? Or one who cannot genuinely find 4 A levels they want to study.

Despite my experiences with BTEC, I also would have liked my daughter to do A levels but she is a C/D borderline student (and works hard to achieve that) but has a real aptitude for this BTEC subject and is completely determined to use it in her career choices. I picked BTEC myself because I couldn't decide on what A levels I wanted to study (apart from Maths).

At the end of the day, the best decision might come from whether the student will ace A levels or will they find one or two (of the four) completely unrewarding.

There is a lot to the decision, and working backwards from Uni requirements is a good start when coupled with students interests and strengths.

VoldemortsNipple Sat 22-Oct-11 08:46:14

Thanks again for the replies.
Kritur I agree about not knowing what you want to do at 16. This is the first time DD has expressed a wish to do any type of career. She usually talks of doing an English degree because she doesn't know what she wants.

Supersal, did your DS know what he wanted to do for a long time? My ds1 (12) talks of joining the army and he has for a while. If he was still saying this at 17, as much as I wouldn't feel happy myself, I'd support him all the way. DD seems to have pulled this from thin air and is running with it.

Bullinachinashop, that's interesting that you have always had to convince others but not surprising.

It's quite frightening, handing over DDs education choices entirely to her (almost.) Is much rather her stay in school and do her A levels, or at least do A levels at college. I just need to give her constructive advice and hope she makes the right choice for her.

cricketballs Sat 22-Oct-11 09:44:11

Whilst I teach a vocational course (and have vocational qualifications myself as well as traditional) I would urge your DD to think about after college.

My DS initially was thinking of doing a BTEC level 3 and the current entry requirements for the uni courses he was also considering stated that they would accept a BTEC at distinction level. I emailed though a top uni in the area he wanted to study to ask if this would still be the case in 2013 and I received a reply straight away with a link to the entry requirements from 2012 onwards....a BTEC will only be accepted if the person also had an A level as well.

I took this information to the college open evenings and the colleges were unaware of this and stated that he would not be able to complete both a BTEC course and an A level course as it would put him over the hours that are funded.

In the end DS decided to do A levels instead (which I was glad about) as this change in requirements really concerned him.

Despite this warning, I would suggest that you allow your DD to make the choice herself (but supply her with guidance) as she will be the one who is completing the course and she needs to be happy with her choice. On another note; if she achieves GCSEs that will allow her to stay on at her current school to do A levels, then the chances are that they will accept her back if at first she doesn't like the BTEC

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