Choosing school subjects – advice for parents and carers

About 4 mins

Is your child thinking about their subject choices? This is an important decision that will influence the career opportunities open to them in the future.  

Whether your child knows what subjects they want to choose, or they haven’t really given it much thought, it’s important that they keep their options open

We've got some useful tips and a webinar session to show you how you can help your child make the best decision for them. 

Subject choices webinar

Our careers advisers Gemma and Joan hosted a subject choices information session full of advice to help you feel more confident supporting your child.

The webinar focussed on S2/S3 subject choices and covered:

  • The role of careers advisers and how we can help
  • Top tips and things to think about

You can watch the full recording of the webinar here.

Subject choices top tips

Here are some top tips to help you and your child:

1. Start thinking early

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

Every school and local authority has a different approach, so check the school website, attend information sessions where possible and talk to the teachers and careers adviser. Get in touch with the school to find out more.

In the run-up to making their subject choices, your child will:

  • Have support from a Skills Development Scotland (SDS) careers adviser to help them think through the decisions they’re about to make 
  • Get the opportunity for you and your child to have a conversation with a careers adviser

Where government guidelines or local restrictions don’t permit you to participate in person, we’ll seek to make alternative arrangements by phone or video conference. Get in touch with the school to find out more.

Have a look at our Future Me Subject Choices magazine for more information and advice.

2. Understand where subjects can take you

Use our Subject Choices tool with your child to get an idea of what careers certain subjects could lead to. You can try different combinations of subjects to see what the impact would be on their future career options. The tool also includes Foundation Apprenticeships from SCQF Levels 4 – 6 which could be a good option for your child if they’re thinking about S4 – S6 subject choices.

You can get useful materials from the school, and possibly attend virtual parents’ evenings and information events to hear more. Get in touch with your child's school to find out 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.

3. 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 work through the tools on My World of Work. The Strengths tool will help them to focus on what they’re naturally good at. In fact, doing the quiz together is a positive way for you and your child to start talking and sharing thoughts about what they do well, enjoy and most of all, what gives them energy.

There's an About Me and Skills Explorer tool too. Discovering more about their interests and what they’re good at can help your child think about what subjects might suit them.

They’ll need to register for a My World of Work account first. You can register and try the tools too.

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 the subjects your child wants to do?

If there is a combination of subjects that your child really wants to do, but doesn’t look possible on the timetable, 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 industry knowledge and experience of the world of work.

Use the Subject Choices tool