Help for parents
Subject choices are an important decision for your child. They have an impact on what courses they can study at college or university. They can also affect what careers are open to them when they leave school.
Sometime between October and March, your child will pick subjects for their Nationals or Highers. But it's a good idea to start thinking about them earlier, to help support your child in the best way possible.
For parents, with recent changes to the curriculum, one of the first challenges is understanding how these qualifications compare to the ones they may be more familiar with. Luckily, the SCQF has put together a guide on this. You can also watch the video, which we produced with SQA, to explain some of the differences.
To help your child prepare for their choice, you could look through the guidance here on My World of Work on Choosing my subjects. This includes our new subject choices tool. This lets them find out which jobs their subjects could lead to.
We've also developed the guide below for parents, which gives you some pointers on how to support them through the process.
Finding the right career
How My World of Work can help
We've designed My World of Work to make it easy for your child to explore, and find out about, careers that might suit them. It helps them to build career management skills, so that they can make the best decisions about what's right for them.
This guide introduces you to some of the features of the site, and how you can use them with your child.
Starting an account will help your child make the most of My World of Work. You can support your child as they complete the tools and sections in their account.
Each element works with the information in My career options, to show your child jobs, Modern Apprenticeships, and industries that suit them.
Ambition lets them add a goal to work towards – and helps them explore other, related careers. For example, if their dream is to be a footballer, we can show them lots of other jobs in sport they might also have an interest in
Education helps them keep a track of their qualifications. As well as showing what jobs these could lead to, these are pulled in to the CV builder automatically, making it easy for them to create a CV
Learning about jobs, skills in demand and the world of work
My career options lets your child start exploring the world of work. This is the part of the site where you'll find information about how to get in to different jobs, what skills are involved, and where the opportunities of the future will be.
There are two ways to use the search on My career options. First, your child can start completing their My World of Work account and get career suggestions based on their results.
Or, they can simply start searching. So, if your child is interested in being a police officer, a dental nurse, an engineer, a forensic scientist – they can use the search box and find relevant content.
Whichever way they access it, they'll find detailed information about careers.
- Our job profiles contain all the information your child needs to start exploring different jobs. From the latest salary information to the qualifications and skills needed for the job, vacancies, volunteering opportunities and related careers
- Industries show what careers are linked to Scotland's growth industries. Your child can find out the key facts, see where the jobs will be, keep up with the latest news, find vacancies and Modern Apprenticeship opportunities
- Types of Modern Apprenticeships help you child discover new routes into the world of work. There are more than 80 types of Modern Apprenticeship in all sorts of industries
Real people stories, which you'll find on our job profiles and industry pages, show what it's really like to do that particular job or work in that sector.
Each also comes with a timeline which shows what jobs and courses led the person to their current position. This gives your child an idea of different routes they may be able to take into this job.
Here are a few examples.
The articles below keep you up-to-date on key dates for things happening for your child as they move through school. These are a guide, but for specific information you can contact your child's school or visit the school website.
We'll also highlight events that might be of interest to you.
Applying for courses
Whatever your child decides to do after leaving school, it helps if you understand the application process.
We've developed a guide for them (and you!) on applying for college and university. This includes information on UCAS, personal statements, application forms and college interviews.
You might also find this UCAS guide for parents and guardians useful if your child is applying to university.
If your child is applying to study law, medicine or dentistry, there are aptitude tests they'll have to sit. You can find out about some of these at:
If your child is starting a course, or other learning, they could be entitled to funding to help them with the costs.
To help you - and them - understand what's available, we've brought together information on the funding available in Scotland. This includes details on Skills Development Scotland Individual Learning Accounts, which could see them eligible for £200 towards the costs of learning.
The SAAS website also has a lot of helpful guides on what is available, and when.
Another tip is to check in with the college or university that your child hopes to attend. Often, they'll have information on their website, or may be able to answer questions at open days and information evenings.
Applying for jobs
Taking the first step onto the career ladder can be difficult. Your child may come to you for advice.
They can also find out about aptitude tests, which are becoming an increasingly popular part of the recruitment process.
There are a couple of tools which you could look at together:
- The CV builder in their account will help you both understand what information employers are looking for
- My Interview lets them practice their interview skills and find out some good techniques for answering competency-based questions
We've also put together some expert advice just for parents on how to help them prepare for interviews, and complete application forms.
Whether they're still studying, or are leaving college or university, volunteering can give your child the chance to develop essential work skills, as well as helping a cause they care about.
Long summer and winter holidays, and weekends, are good times to help out. And some programmes give young people experience during the working week.
Whatever they decide to do, here are some of the benefits of giving up their free time:
- Learn new skils. Volunteering helps young people develop work-based skills such as organisation, leadership, research and teamworking. They might even get a qualification from it
- Build confidence. Trying something new, and achieving things, can be a big boost to confidence
- Try out a career. Volunteering might give an insight to work in a particular field, which could help your child when deciding if a career is right for them
- Make contacts. It's an excellent way for them to meet people they might not otherwise, and grow their network. These people could help with letting them know about job opportunities, or be a referee on their CV
- Experience for their CV. Volunteering gives them real-life experience which could impress future employers
How My World of Work can help
There are some restrictions on what your child can do, when. For example, under 14s can't work for a profit-making organisation, even if they're unpaid. Check Your rights in work for more information on this.
Leaving school – what next?
Getting ready to leave school can be a tricky time. There are lot of options open to your child – but what will work best for them? As a parent, it helps to understand what those options are, so that you can support them in their decision.
We've developed a guide for parents, along with information about Modern Apprenticeships, and preparing for the transition if your child has additional support needs.
Exam results stress
If you're supporting your child through their exams, it can be difficult to know what to say.
This handy guide from SQA lets you know what to expect during the exam period, and includes timetables and past papers so that you can understand each step of the process.
Once the exams are over, the advisors on our Exam Results helpline, which runs every year on the same day their results arrive, can help.
We've also developed the guide below for parents on helping your child on results day.
Our careers service in schools
Our professionally qualified careers advisers offer career information, advice and guidance (CIAG) in every state secondary school in Scotland.
Our comprehensive service helps your child to develop their career management skills and can include:
- Intensive one-to-one career guidance through a coaching approach
- Group sessions
- Drop-in clinics
- Availability at school events like parents’ evenings
And we’re here to help you too. You can:
- Talk to your child’s school careers adviser at parents’ nights or school events
- Attend a subject choice one-to-one with your child and their careers adviser
Have a look at our school services table which provides an overview of the help on offer at each stage.
Once they've left school, your child can continue to access support from SDS advisers through our careers centres across the country. They can drop in for free, impartial advice, or book an appointment.
Find out more about career education
If you want to understand more about how career education is delivered to your child, these resources could help.
A world of possibilities
The National Parent Forum of Scotland leaflet, Career Education: A world of possibilities, gives more detail on when and how your child will learn about careers throughout their education.
The Career Education Standard (3-18)
The Career Education Standard sets out what teachers, parents and Skills Development Scotland can do to help young people understand the link between their lives and the world of work.
It's aimed at helping young people to be better prepared for work.
Within the standard, there are expectations about what you can do as a parent or carer to support what's happening in school.
The Career Education Standard was developed by Education Scotland and key partners including Skills Development Scotland.