The Careers Adviser

'How do I get into teaching children? How can I help my daughter choose her A-levels?'
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The Independent Online

Primary concern

I have a BSc in psychology and criminology and I'm looking to get into teaching. I went to Prague to teach English but it didn't go well. I'm considering going abroad again to teach children, but my first experience has put me off. I would consider something to do with my degree but don't know where to look.

Do you really want to teach? You say it all went wrong in Prague. Was that because of the teaching, or for other reasons? If so, it's worth remembering that teaching is not easy to do without training, so what happened may not be an accurate assessment of your interest. It also sounds as if you were teaching adults, but would prefer to work with children. Your subject background isn't suited to secondary-school teaching, but you could consider primary or post-16. Your best bet might be to contact local primary schools to arrange to go in to observe. If you do decide to apply for teacher training, you won't be considered without classroom experience, and this should also help you decide whether this career appeals to you. You could check entry routes into teaching at www.tda.gov.uk, and training courses at www.gttr.ac.uk. For career options directly related to your subjects, or areas where they might come in useful, look up www.prospects.ac.uk/links/signposts. But many graduates use their degree as a level of entry regardless of their subject, proving that they have certain learning, understanding, analytical and problem-solving skills. This approach could give you a much wider range of career ideas to consider, and you could check out options at www.prospects.ac.uk, where you'll find a careers software programme that tries to match your skills and interests to jobs. You need to do the research to find out what might appeal.

Advanced choices

My daughter is doing a range of subjects including additional maths, double science, Latin, Greek, French and PE at GCSE. She is finding it impossible to narrow down her choices for A-level, though the current short list is physics, chemistry, maths, history, French and Greek. How can we help her?

Keeping options open is useful at this age, and picking the top three subjects from your daughter's list opens up a good range of science-related degree courses, including engineering. These courses don't commit you to a related career: they would also be helpful for various branches of the law as well as jobs in the City, for example, with relevant graduate training. Richard Leathes of the educational consultants Gabbitas ( www.gabbitas.co.uk), which offers in-depth guidance on university studies and careers, also recommends anyone with good linguistic skills to take their aptitude further. He points out that whatever she chooses as her main field of study, your daughter should take advantage of any opportunity to combine it with a foreign language, or could improve her language skills on a gap year or a course that offers a year abroad. He also advises at least considering the International Baccalaureate (IB), a well- regarded alternative to A-levels and a good option for all-rounders. Information is available from the IB website (www.ibo.org ) or from participating schools. As soon as your daughter finishes her GSCEs, she should aim for a variety of work experience, to help her decide on future options and gain the practical and personal skills graduate employers look for in addition to academic qualifications.

Careers adviser: Nan Sherrard, careers consultant, Graduate Prospects. Send your queries to Caroline Haydon at 'The Independent', Education Desk, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; or fax 020-7005 2143; or e-mail to chaydon @blueyonder.co.uk

chaydon@blueyonder.co.uk

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