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BTECs starting 2015 - General support thread

(693 Posts)
TeenAndTween Wed 26-Aug-15 16:21:57

Is there anyone else around whose child is starting a BTEC rather than A levels? Should we stay on this board or move to Further Education?

My DD has enrolled for Travel & Tourism.

thunderbird69 Wed 26-Aug-15 17:50:32

Yes me! My DS is doing IT.

He's also changing from school to college, I've had so many people ask if that means he is moving away from home. I think they are confusing college and uni!

Kez100 Wed 26-Aug-15 18:47:02

My DS is going into year 2 IT

TeenAndTween Wed 26-Aug-15 19:25:18

DD doesn't have a burning desire to go into travel or tourism, but it was the BTEC that looked most interesting. And she does like languages, going to new places, and history. So I hope she enjoys it. It will be such a relief not having to worry about exam technique. I've just paid £15 for a trip on day 2 of term.

Kez100 Wed 26-Aug-15 20:01:19

That is a problem with BTEC if you don't have a passion as they are quite focused courses. It's much better than doing A levels if you don't have the high GCSE grades. My son has two friends coming into year 1 of his course because they found A levels too difficult.

Both of my two have loved their BTEC (DD finished last year and she is at Uni now).

I loved mine too - I did Business and Finance in the early 80s then went on to become a Chartered Accountant.

TeenAndTween Wed 26-Aug-15 20:28:48

The T&T course seems to develop quite transferable skills and knowledge, I hope. So customer care, marketing, business, as well as specifics about various destinations etc. But it is very difficult to really understand what she will be doing, and how hard it will all be.

I found it hard to get a straight answer from the tutors. They are all at pains to say that BTECs aren't an easy option. But ultimately they do tend to be done by the less academic, so something about them must be easier than A levels, mustn't it?

Kez100 Wed 26-Aug-15 22:04:55

They are completely different. To that extent it's a pity they are compared.

They must be academically easier but it depends where you want to go with it.

If you want to go to Cambridge - forget it.
If you want to do a commercial creative degree (like my daughter) A level students are advised to take a foundation year whereas her BTEC nailed her an unconditional degree offer.
My experience - I wanted to be a lawyer after the first law unit and was advised I'd need to change to A levels, decided instead (after unit 2) to be an accountant and the course got me into work and onto a training contract!

It really depends on so much. But there is absolutely no point in taking A levels to simply stand a 99 percent chance of failure if you aren't academic.

Are they hard? The highest distinction grades are a lot of work. My DD worked all her free hours and most weekends to get her grades. (16 distinctions and 2 merits).

yolofish Wed 26-Aug-15 23:13:43

DD2 is doing double dance BTEC come Sept. I think BTECs are fantastic qualifications, they are very practical, very work/industry-focussed, and they do require a lot of independent thought and work. Shame they are under-valued by some...
teen the travel & tourism course seems to be very good, hope your DD enjoys it.

thunderbird69 Thu 27-Aug-15 08:52:00

Kez100 - what course did your DD do and what is she studying at Uni?

My DS has visions on getting distinctions, but I can't see him working hard at weekends to get them. He is hoping to get a part time job, maybe it would be best to leave that till the long sumemr break they get?

Kez100 Thu 27-Aug-15 10:18:11

Photography and, at University, Commercial Photography. I think that Art disciplines are notoriously time consuming.

My son is doing IT and managed 9 distinctions in first year with less work than his sister - he would have coped with a part time job. Quite what year 2 will be like I don't know.

cricketballs Thu 27-Aug-15 11:40:45

finally more people on MN who value BTEC without sneering at them grin

I teach BTEC Level 3 Business and the range of experience, knowledge, skills etc that students develop from the course I think gives students a huge step up in terms of preparation for uni/work than A levels.

For new students, I would advise them to be fully conversant with the assessment procedures (they have recently changed), the submission dates and not to be afraid to ask for advise from their teachers!

It is a continuous assessment qualification, so they need to be organised with their time, but with my discipline the work load is manageable during college hours, so part time work can be undertaken.

My own son undertook this qualification (at a different provider!) after failing AS levels as he didn't make any effort at all, but that's another story! He didn't know what he wanted to do with his life so I suggested my subject as it does cover a wide range from economics, marketing, HR, law, accounting etc. He found his passion with marketing and has just finished his 1st year at a highly rated uni for this subject. His final award even gave him an academic excellence bursery from the uni

thunderbird69 Thu 27-Aug-15 12:09:09

Thanks Cricket - that's really useful and encouraging

Kez100 Thu 27-Aug-15 12:36:21

That's sort of why I did Business and Finance diploma, Cricketballs - back when dinosaurs were roaming the earth. I was an A level candidate by profile but only wanted to study Maths at A level nothing else. One A level was going to be no use to me, so I looked for interesting full time courses at a college about 15 miles away. Luckily I knew about them because my boyfriend at the time was studying one (he was very clever but also an extremely good graphic artist as that's what he had chosen).

Thunderbird - I know your DS is doing IT - I've been really impressed by my sons first year and for second year they offered him two different streams so he could pick the one that he thought most interesting. It looks pretty difficult so we wait to see how he does. I'm sure he will work hard as he is already buzzing to go back.

Runningtokeepstill Thu 27-Aug-15 22:54:34

I think it's horses for courses. DS1 went down the AS/A2 route as he enjoyed academic study and knew he wanted to do Physics at a Uni that wanted high A level grades. DS2 was also academically able and was recommended to do AS/A2 courses by some of his subject teachers but as his great love is, and always has been, Art he wanted to take a BTEC specialising in illustration. He was sure that he wanted to work in this field so the vocational course made more sense. Both boys worked very hard and got into their first choice university. DS3 is about to start his IT BTEC. He's not sure that he wants to go university but is sure this is an area he'd like to work in, so again a vocational course make sense for him.

There will always be parents who imply that only A level courses are of any value and that anything else is just for students who "don't make the grade" but personally I'm not concerned about that. Young people have to choose the course that works best for them. Comparisons aren't helpful.

nicoleshitzinger Thu 27-Aug-15 23:40:53

My dd is going to do a level 3 BTEC Health and Social Care. She was offered an apprenticeship with Pret a Manger but has decided to go to college instead. Managed to get her onto a course with just 2 B grade GCSE passes (English and drama) by pleading with the admissions tutors. shock

She will be great, and she'll love the course.

Quite excited for her!

yolofish Fri 28-Aug-15 13:34:20

brilliant news nicole well done that girl! (and well done her mummy too!)

Kez100 Fri 28-Aug-15 14:34:49

Well done Little Miss Nicole!

TeenAndTween Fri 28-Aug-15 17:04:20

Well done Nicole 's DD. Apprenticeship offer and a BTEC offer.
Hope she enjoys it.

FifiandDD Sun 30-Aug-15 15:19:06

Hi can I join in? My DD is also starting a BTEC this September. Having gone down the traditional route myself, "O" levels and then "A" levels, I really don't feel that I know that much about them. I have looked on the Edexcell website, but feel none the wiser. Anyway, hopefully she will be well advised by college and enjoy doing just the one subject which she loves.

lemon888 Mon 31-Aug-15 22:27:15

Thanks TeenAndTween for posting this thread. It s soooooo nice and relaxing to know that even in mumsnet not every dc s got a place from Oxbridge or 13A*s in GCSEs or A levels As and A*s. Although my dd s only in year 8 already I have been doing some research in Food Technology in Btec or HND courses. Just in case if she doesnt have enough passes. I thought i m going mad.

EllenJanethickerknickers Tue 01-Sep-15 00:00:43

I'm a year behind you all, but my DS2 is going into Y11 and I'm definitely looking at BTECs for him for next year. His talents are in IT, but there are so many IT options, we're at a bit of a loss. There's software development including games and apps, system support, interactive games design, forensic computing...

He has ASD and is not good at social skills but gets very absorbed by computing. His GCSEs include one in computing and one in ICT and so far he's doing very well in ICT, not quite so well in computing. I can't see him being very helpful in a system support role! grin

It's new to me, I did traditional A levels as Fifi above then university and DS1 is heading down that route. I feel I can advise him (not that it's wanted!) but have less idea about the college route. DS2 works well if interested, not so well if not and finds revision difficult to organise. Dreading GCSE year, TBH.

TeenAndTween Tue 01-Sep-15 07:56:46

Thing is lemon I don't think it is just about enough passes, it is what is most suitable too.

DD passed all her GCSEs, and would be accepted onto A levels. But generally she did way better on course work than exams for essay work, and although she did well in maths and science exams that was because she had a personal 1-1 tutor throughout revision (me). She couldn't have done it independently.

I am hoping that the BTEC with its emphasis on steady hard work, time to mull things over, and more clarity in requirements will suit her much better.

I also think that a good vocational qualification is better than say 3Ds or lower at A level.

If you look around there are loads of different vocational courses (at least there are round here). At least you have given yourself loads of time. And your DD might surprise you with her academics anyway smile

lemon888 Tue 01-Sep-15 08:22:26

cricketball may I ask you if you know where i can find a list of btec and hnd courses and colleges? I dont think dd will want to do catering. But she alway like food technology, biology and chemistry so i think FT Btec is her thing plus she dosent have burning desire to go to uni. I think some thing more vocational and practical will suit her better.

TeenAndTween Tue 01-Sep-15 08:30:51

These two colleges near Southampton have quite a good range to give you an idea.



But the site below has a very comprehensive list



lemon888 Tue 01-Sep-15 08:40:45

TeenandTween my dd s very good with bio, chem,eng lan, art, ict, food t and ok at maths. She can write very well but not a keen reader. She s not competitive but good at time managemet, reliable so i think something vocational will suit her. But my dh is the snobbish one he worships A levels and unis. So I am expecting a very difficult argument with dh in a few years time. That s why i started to prepare myself with all the info now.

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