Choosing school subjects

Reading time: About 4 mins

If your child is in S2 then they’ll soon need to make their subject choices.

It’s a big decision because the subjects they pick will have an impact on which careers are open to them when they leave school.

How can you give the best advice so they can make good choices?

Here are some top tips.

1. Start thinking early

Make sure they, and you, have plenty of time to think it over. There’s lots of advice available but you will need time to look at the information, investigate the different options and talk it over.

Every school and local authority has a different approach, so check the school website, attend information sessions and talk to the teachers.

2. Be open-minded

Listen to what your child is saying and their reasons for picking the subjects before you comment so that they feel they are in control. 

Encourage them to use our Strengths quiz to focus on what they’re naturally good at. In fact, doing the quiz together is a positive way you and your child to start talking and sharing thoughts about what they do well, enjoy and most of all, what gives them energy.

3. Get informed about the subjects and careers

You can get useful materials from the school, and go to parents’ evenings and information events to hear more. Ask questions about the different subjects and qualifications. There’s a guide on how modern qualifications compare to older ones on the SCQF website

Your child probably already likes some subjects.

They can use the subject choices tool to get an idea of what careers their favourite subjects could lead to. You can try different combinations of subjects to see what the impact would be on their future career options. 

The industry pages, which you'll find through My career options, also give you information about which roles will be in demand in the future.

4. Check what subjects are available in the school

There’s only so much time in a day so it’s likely that the school timetable means some subject combinations won’t be offered.

Have a look at the timetable to see what subjects are in which column.

Are there any clashes? Are they subjects your child wants to do?

If there is something that your child really wants to do, talk to the school and see if there’s any way that they can.

It's also important to find out what additional options are there. Some schools will offer subjects in conjunction with local colleges at senior phase. Others may offer Foundation Apprenticeships, which allow your child to get experience of the world of work. 

5. Keep talking and listening!

Professor Ewan Gillon, clinical director of First Psychology Scotland explains, ‘Research shows that the best kind of relationship between parents and their children is one that supports the child to make his or her own choices and decisions, and not feel pushed into a particular direction by the aspirations or wishes of the parent.’ 

Make sure you keep the conversation going. Tools like Strengths can help you both explore the possibilities.