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PUPILS PREPARE FOR THEIR GCSE RESULTS; Time for students to consider the options.

Byline: CLAIRE STOKER

THOUSANDS of young people across Merseyside will be suffering a sleepless night tonight.

And while cynics claim it is becoming more and more difficult to fail GCSE exams, waiting for results can still be a nerve-racking experience.

This is because their results could affect the rest of their lives.

But whatever your results, there is a variety of options to consider, from A-levels to vocational courses, or a modern apprenticeship.

If your results are not what you were expecting, re-sits can be taken by staying on at school or going to a sixth form college.

Pam Foy, deputy headteacher of New Heys comprehensive, Allerton, said: ``At school, staff have known pupils for five years so will know their strengths and weaknesses and be able to monitor and support them closely.

``Because pupils staying on will be the oldest in the school, they will be able to experience roles of responsibility that perhaps wouldn't be available in a college situation.''

But Frank Gill, assistant principal at Knowsley community college, believes there are alternative benefits by going to college.

He said: ``Colleges offer a wider range of courses with more vocational options to choose from.

``If pupils feel by the age of 16 that they are ready to change to a different, more adult environment, college can be the best option.''

Alternatively, modern apprenticeships can give young people the opportunity to work and learn at the same time, helping them gain qualifications plus job experience.

There are two types of modern apprenticeships, foundation and advanced.

Foundation modern apprenticeships take 12 months to complete and are carried out while the pupil is doing paid work, or in an unpaid work placement with a weekly training allowance.

Advanced apprenticeships are for technical, supervisory or junior management roles and last two years; they can be used as a stepping stone for university.

But whichever route you decide to follow, speak to your school careers advisors first and make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Peter values `proper job' experience

PETER Collerin opted to go for the modern apprenticeship route.

The 16-year-old, from Old Roan, is completing an NVQ level two in the installation and support of IT systems with Asset Training in Bootle.

He also gets pounds 50 a week and an expenses allowance for a work placement at Computer Solutions in Southport, and spends three days a week in the office and two days at college.

Peter said: ``I like working with computers, so I came to Asset Training and they gave me the placement.

``It's much better to do it this way because I get more experience and it's interesting to be in a proper job.

``I think I will end up further down the career route than someone who has gone to college because I'll be more experienced.''

Heather is glad she stayed on at school

HEATHER Owens, 18, from Allerton, gained 10 GCSEs at New Heys comprehensive and has completed A-levels in maths, physics and chemistry.

She said she followed in the footsteps of her brother, who had also stayed on at the Allerton school.

Heather explained: ``I knew all the teachers and got on with them, plus I had friends at New Heys so I didn't see the point in moving anywhere else.

``Staying on was better than I thought because I had more freedom and the teachers treat you as if you are more mature.''

Heather knows school is not for everyone, but she said: ``One of my friends went to college, but left after the first year and came back to school.

``Maybe school is more disciplined, and that suits some.

``You need to decide where you would be happiest, plus where you would learn the best. For me that was school.''

Katie's quicker route to job she wants

KATIE Hopley, 17, from Kirkby, left Ruffwood comprehensive for Knowsley community college after finishing her GCSEs last year.

She is now half way through a health and social care vocational certificate of education, a VCE.

She said: ``I always wanted to be a nurse, so I thought the best way to go about it was to find a course that would give me what I needed straight away.

``After I leave college I can either go to university or immediately apply for a job as a nurse and do their 10-week training programme.''

Katie's course is split into subjects with essays or exams.

She has also completed two week's work experience in a primary school.

The VCE is the equivalent to two Alevels, but Katie said she is glad she chose a different route because she thinks A-levels would be harder.

She said: ``If you want to get into a job quicker, go for the vocational training, but only if you're sure about the specific job you want to do.''
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 21, 2002
Words:811
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