Many parents prioritise the classic academic subjects - particularly maths, English and the sciences - when encouraging their children to continue their education. But while it can be relatively easy to find somewhere to study these subjects, it can be much harder to find access to more niche subjects in mainstream educational institutions.
However, niche training can be an important component in helping young people to prepare for work, particularly if they are keen to go into a specific discipline that requires knowledge and expertise from the outset. For those who cannot find access to private tuition or to mainstream teaching of niche subjects, you might imagine that general careers guidance could provide an important bridging of the gap. However, a recently published Ofsted report highlights the extent to which mainstream schools are failing on careers advice.
Three in four are failing
In a survey of 60 educational institutions, Ofsted found a massive three quarters were not working well enough in terms of their careers guidance for pupils at a crucial stage in their development, between the ages of 14 and 16. The Ofsted inspectors looked at how good the advice that was given to pupils was - including its impartiality - and found widespread poor awareness of how to even go about providing such a service.
As a consequence, external sources were being underused in all but a handful of cases, and very few schools had the expertise and skills that would be required in order to provide an adequate careers service. This is a top-down problem - and Ofsted also found that the guidance given to schools on how to run a careers service is insufficient, while employer engagement is also poor.
Overall, the Ofsted report is fairly scathing, and could leave many parents wondering how to support their children with ambitions of going into a specific and niche discipline, but without access to study the subjects they need in mainstream education, or to careers guidance to help fill the gap.
Home tutors can provide access to expert tuition for talented children who are not being supported by what's on offer in mainstream education. When you access private tuition, you open up the full range of potential topics to study, broadening your reach beyond the classic subjects like maths and into more focused disciplines like accountancy or bookkeeping.
You can even access coaching on entry into the Armed Forces, providing a different career path for young people who are passionate about the prospect of serving their country, and want to get off to the best possible start in their service career.
Scientific disciplines can be as focused on such as immunology and microbiology, rather than general biology or chemistry curricula, again preparing individuals who have a clear idea of which discipline they want to work in for the long term.
While it can be difficult to gain specific workplace experience - particularly in niche industries where placement opportunities might be extremely limited - studying focused subjects and gaining the correct qualifications can help to provide a different kind of head start for academically minded students, while overcoming the potential failings of the mainstream schooling system.
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