Parents’ Area
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Parents’ Area

As parents and carers, we can only offer quality advice on topics we know a bit about. Otherwise, without knowledge, we’re just providing uninformed opinions.


We don’t try and push people towards higher education; we just want them to understand what it’s all about. Then, they can make their own minds up about whether it’s something they should consider

- Next Steps South West

When it comes to making big decisions, such as choosing GCSEs, A-levels, or whether to take the route of an apprenticeship or a degree, offering guidance can be difficult, leaving many of us feeling helpless. However, as a key influencer in their lives, the guidance that you do provide will have a significant impact on their educational achievement and their long-term future.

Through our website and our activities, we simplify the minefield of information that’s out there so that you can support your child in making informed decisions about their futures.

Changing times

Today’s world is very different from what it was ten or twenty years ago, and it will continue to change. Jobs that previously existed have disappeared and, in many cases, been replaced. Changes in technology have created new industries and different methods of doing things, and the concept of a job for life has long gone for most of us. In fact, many young people today will be employed in jobs in the future that don’t even exist yet.

This leaves us in a situation where individuals will need to be adaptable and resilient to change and is part of the reason why so many young people choose higher education – to develop the skills that enable these abilities.

The issue that we at Next Steps South West are trying to change is the fact that most of those who go to university come from families where someone has already been.

That’s because they are able to draw on that person’s experience and recognise the benefits higher education brings and all the other factors, including what it’s like, how to finance it, and how to choose a course. This also ensures that they make decisions during their school years that will set them up for later.

How we can help you

Planning any journey is always going to be difficult if you’re not sure of the destination. The same can be said when planning for the future. For the few young people that know where they want to end up, the planning is logical; for those that don’t, it’s not.

One thing that can really help a young person to plan and focus while at school is to encourage them to learn as much as possible about the diverse range of careers that exist. The ‘Find Your Career section of this site can be a great place to start!

Find your career

The reality of what many jobs entail on a day-to-day basis is often very different from what we imagine. This is why it’s important to find out what’s really involved, what skills are required, and what are the working conditions and environment like. Does the job involve getting out and about in the local area, or travelling nationally or abroad? Is it office or factory-based? How would the job role change after a few years of experience has been gained?

It can take time to create a shortlist of possible careers – and it’s never too early or late to start – but once a few have been highlighted, it’s then possible to see what qualifications are needed to enter those professions.

For example, if a young person found the job of a land surveyor interesting, they would see that a ‘relevant’ degree is required. In a situation like this, A-levels (or equivalent) would be needed in order to progress on to university, so you would be asking questions like ‘What degrees are relevant to land surveying and what A-levels might serve as a good foundation?’.

Depending on the age of the young person, they could apply the same principles to choosing their GCSEs, though don’t fret if they haven’t identified any possible careers at that stage of their journey – they won’t be alone.

If it looks likely that a qualification, such as a degree, is going to be required, and you’d like to find out more about how the higher education system works, these additional sections will help you develop the knowledge you’ll need in order to support your child:


This area of the site addresses the questions and concerns that we frequently come across when working with young people, their teachers, and their parents and carers.

Sites we like

There are lots of websites that inspire young people to achieve their potential. Here, we’ve highlighted a few of the ones which we think do it really well.

Be Inspired

We can learn a lot from people who have been there and done that. This section hosts videos of real people talking about their own journeys through higher education and beyond.

Video: The data we collect and how we use it.