Alternative education routes for students

For students across Chichester, and thousands of nervous parents, today marks the end of a long, anxious wait for GCSE results.

Last week it was the turn of A-levels, and I was delighted to hear that for many of our local schools it was their best year of results so far.

Chichester College was able to boast a 99 per cent pass rate, and many students are now embarking on their next step as they begin preparations to go to university and/or consider career options.

There are many more choices available nowadays with 49 per cent of young people studying for degrees compared to just 19 per cent in 1990.

I know when I was leaving school in the eighties the figure was in the single digits.

There are also more young people from working class backgrounds taking up this option (17 per cent), which is good to see.

Chichester University has a great tradition of supporting people from disadvantaged backgrounds, making up 36 per cent of their intake, and this year the first lucky students will have the opportunity to study at the brilliant new Technology campus in Bognor Regis.

University is a wonderful opportunity for many young people but I am concerned that other options are less well communicated and, therefore, not fully understood.

I’m sure I won’t be the only one championing alternative options to going to university or straight into a job, but I speak from personal experience as the only degree-level apprentice in the House of Commons.

Good quality apprenticeships are a great alternative if you want to gain practical experience whilst studying at the same time or if your exam results didn’t go quite to plan and you are looking for options other than full time studies.

I will never forget going to school to pick up my GCSE results with my school friends in Liverpool.

On the walk back my best friend was disappointed to have received only one GCSE, a grade C in sociology.

It seemed like all decent career options were lost but 30 years later my best friend has two degrees and is the manager of a major cancer hospital, a job that she loves, demonstrating that there are many routes to get on in life.