School and College

No Comments

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Education page

Coleg y Cymoedd

Careers Wales Education

Pupil Voice Wales

Studential Offers advice to students aged 16+ on all aspects of their education

Meic  The advocacy, advice and information helpline for children and young people in Wales —Instant Message, Freephone: 080880 23456, Text: 84001

Starting Secondary School

Starting secondary school can be a very exciting, although slightly daunting prospect. You’ll be in a new class with people you don’t know, with new buildings to find your way around and new systems and timetables to understand.

Here are some tips to help you:

  • In year six of primary school you will probably get the chance to go on a visit to your new secondary school. If you do, make sure you go as it will help you to know what to expect and find your way around on your first day.
  • Your new school will likely be a lot bigger than your primary school and you will have to learn where everything is – don‘t worry, you will soon find your way around and everyone else in Year seven will be in the same It might be worth asking a teacher if there’s a map of the school available to help you get your bearings for the first few days.
  • There will be lots of older and bigger pupils at the school and you may feel like a kitten caught in a stampede on the African plain at times, but you will soon get used to them.
  • You will have to get used to having a timetable and different teachers taking different subjects. It’s important to be organised!
  • The main thing to remember is that all year seven pupils are in the same situation as you and are probably feeling many of the same feelings and share the same worries and reservations.
  • Contrary to what you may have heard, nobody flushes your head down the toilet.

Settling In

  • Firstly, allow yourself time to adjust – you’re not expected to feel at home right away and your teachers will understand this. It takes a lot of people at least the first half term to start feeling comfortable. If you are still having problems settling in your new school after your first term, try to discuss your feelings with your parents or guardians, or teachers.
  • It’s a fact of life that people are more inclined to some subjects more than others. Everyone learns differently and your skills might lie in different areas than your friends. But, for the sake of your education it‘s important to try your best in all subject areas until you reach an age where you can start making educational choices to suit your skills and areas of interest.
  • If you begin to have problems with pupils and this develops into you being bullied then it’s very important that you discuss this with someone. Click here to see our section on bullying and how to deal with it.

‘10 Tips for Starting School’ video


Family Lives’ tips on starting secondary school



Qualifications prove that you‘ve gained knowledge and developed your skills, and can help you to get a job, enter into higher education or gain a place on a training course.

Some qualifications are awarded when you sit a final exam, whilst others are assessment based and your work will be graded as you go along. Moreover, some qualifications are a combination of coursework, assessments and exams.

There is a lot of advice available to help you find something to suit your abilities and interests. You could study for academic qualifications such as A-levels or a degree, or you could choose a qualification that’s related to a specific interest that you have or job that you’d like to do.

Certain jobs and careers require specific qualifications, for example medicine and law require a degree qualification, as well as experience and training. Some qualifications can be worked towards while you work and gain experience, for example youth work qualifications.

You will find that many jobs advertised will ask for certain qualifications from the people applying. You may also need certain qualifications to apply for a particular training course.

Confused about qualifications?

Career Wales’ complete guide to qualifications

If you need more information or have any questions about your education, you can contact Meic, the advocacy, advice and information helpline for children and young people in Wales — Instant Message, Freephone: 080880 23456, Text: 84001

Year 9 Choices

Choosing your subjects in Year 9 is an important decision for your future.

You might already know which subjects you enjoy or have some career ideas, but make sure you choose carefully.

These choices could affect what you do in the future so discuss what you would like to do with your parents or guardians, teachers and/or careers advisor before you start focusing on some subjects and drop others forever. You can also get in touch with the Youth Engagement Officer based in your school if you’d like some advice on making your choices. If you’re not sure who that is, drop us a line on

The Careers Wales website has a variety of information and advice to help you with your Year 9 Choices. 

Post 16 Education

Once you reach the age of 16 in Year 11, it’s time to decide whether you want to stay in education to get further qualifications, whether at school or college, or leave to get a job, an apprenticeship or receive professional training. If you’re having trouble deciding what to do next, discuss it with your parents or guardians, teacher and/or careers advisor.

Many students looking to apply to university will choose to study A Levels or their equivalent. There are around 80 subjects that you can study at A Level, and schools and colleges will usually offer the most popular subjects. You might have to search for some of the more niche or specialist subjects.

There are other qualifications such as applied A-Levels and NVQ‘s, which have a more practical and vocational structure, this means studying some of the more practical subjects for a specific job.

Your options at 16

Choosing the right A levels

Info on apprenticeships

UCAS’s Post-16 Options


Exclusion from school means that the school orders that you cannot attend school anymore. A pupil who breaks an important school rule or commits a criminal offence in school can be excluded by the Head teacher.

The decision to exclude a pupil is taken very seriously and usually used only as a last resort, when allowing the pupil to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the pupil or others in the school.

Although some people may think that being ordered not to attend school is a dream come true, exclusion is actually a very serious thing to have on your record. Being excluded can mean you miss out on your education and it can hinder your chances when applying for a job or course elsewhere in the future.

There are two types of exclusion:

  • Fixed term – when a pupil is barred from attending school for a set period of time. This maybe certain days of the week or for a set number of days, weeks or months. The total length of fixed exclusions must not be for more than 45 school days in a school year.
  • Permanent – when a pupil is barred from attending that school ever again.

There is a national standard list of reasons for exclusion which includes:

  • Physical assault
  • Verbal abuse
  • Bullying
  • Racist abuse
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Drug, alcohol or substance abuse
  • Damage
  • Theft
  • Continuing bad behaviour or breaking of school rules

One-off cases of truancy, forgetting homework, wearing jewellery or breaking school uniform rules are not reasons for exclusion.


There are Government guidelines that set out what should happen when someone is excluded:

  • The Head teacher must carry out a full investigation of the incident that has lead to exclusion
  • Your parents or guardians must be told immediately
  • Your parents or guardians should receive a letter from the head teacher explaining the reasons for exclusion, if it is permanent or how long it will last and how they can appeal against it if they feel the exclusion is unjust
  • On appeal the school governors can approve the exclusion or order that you can re-attend school
  • A further appeal can be made to a local panel
  • It is important to appeal as soon as possible and within the time set out in the letter
  • All pupils aged 11 and above also have the right to appeal against exclusion
  • All excluded pupils’ views have a right to be heard at the Governing Body’s Pupil Disciplinary Committee and Independent Appeal hearings. This may be in person, in writing or any other practical format
  • Current guidance documents state that the pupil and parents or guardians are entitled to attend a hearing of the Independent Appeal Panel and present their case, either in writing or in person

If you are excluded from school the Local Education Authority must make arrangements for your education to continue, either through services that provide alternatives or by placing you with another school.

If you’ve been excluded from school, Snap Cymru is an organisation that can offer you support and guidance. Helpline- 0845 120 3730

The Government’s guidelines to appealing an exclusion

Welsh Government’s Pupil Referral Units

Study Skills

Study skills are important as they can help with things like homework, exam preparation, essay writing and revision. Study skills can include things like managing your time, making sure you take notes clearly and simply, planning your revision, working in a group and making the most of resources such as books and websites. There are different things that can be developed to help your ability to learn and to help you feel more confident with studying and taking exams.

Revision, ahh that dreaded word, means checking back through the work you have done over the year to make sure that you understand and remember things before taking an exam. You‘ve heard it all before, but revision efforts are important when preparing for exams and will make a difference to your final grade. It’s vital to prepare and to give yourself the best chance you can of passing your exams.

“It’s just not sinking in!!!” – REVISION TIPS

It’s normal to feel reluctant about revision when you could be spending your time doing something more interesting, but there are things you can do to make revising that little bit easier:

  • Find a quiet place to work with no distractions. If you have the space, keep all your books and information in one place so you can find them easily
  • There are mixed views on whether listening to music helps you concentrate. If it works for you, keep it low and in the background so you‘re not distracted or tempted to sing along. We don’t recommend Dubstep, either
  • Time Management – Use your time effectively and plan ahead. Goconqr have a revision timetable you can download and customise
  • Have a think about what‘s the best way of revising for you. Do you find revising by yourself more effective than with a friend? Do you prefer doing lots of short revision sessions or longer sessions? Do whatever works for you.
  • Take regular breaks
  • Make rough notes and practice re-writing what you‘ve learnt in your own words. Focus on understanding things rather than trying to learn them parrot fashion
  • It‘s good to write yourself reminders, make notes and highlight important facts when you are revising
  • Try putting your notes up somewhere you can see them, e.g. the fridge, in your bedroom or even in the bathroom! You can tell your parents or guardians that we told you to do it! The more you look at them, the more you should be able to remember the information
  • Summarise different subjects onto cards or on A4 sheets of paper
  • You could also try recording information and playing it back to yourself – good times to listen back are when you’re in bed just before you go to sleep or whilst travelling
  • If you have someone willing to help you like a friend or family member give them a list of key subject points or themes and have them quiz you. This will help you to pull together information that you have learnt on the subject and think how to structure answers in your exams questions


Exam period can be a very stressful and worrying time for many people. It’s a perfectly natural reaction to the thought of being tested and put on the spot – you’re not on your own!

You can help yourself by trying to keep calm and preparing well. Good preparation will help you to feel a lot more confident in the situation. It can help to view the situation as a challenge – you’ve been learning about a subject for the past few years and the exam is a chance to demonstrate your knowledge and prove how much you’ve learned.

Learning how to cope with stressful situations like exams by preparing well will benefit you in the future when it comes to job interviews and the world of work.

Here are some tips that can help you deal with exam stress:

  • Read our section on revision
  • Plan ahead – leave yourself plenty of time to revise
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Eat properly
  • Take time out – get some exercise and fresh air every day
  • If you are feeling stressed talk to someone – parents, friends, brother or sister – don‘t bottle things up, they might be able to help you with your revision
  • On the day of your exam make sure you have everything you need – pens, pencils, drink, hankie etc
  • Use the toilet before going into the exam

Remember, although exams are important, if you fail an exam it’s not the be all and end all – It doesn‘t mean you are a failure as a person! It’s ok to feel disappointed if you didn‘t get the grades you expected, but try to learn from the situation.

You can always re-sit or look at other options for achieving your goals and aspirations – there are always alternatives.

BBC’s GCSE Bitesize

How to Study

Test Taking Tips

The Student Room’s Revision Tips

The Mix’s Study and Exam Tips

School Councils/Pupil Participation

An important right outlined in the UNCRC says young people have a right to have a say in things that affect them and that they should be listened to and respected when decisions are made.

You can contact the Youth Engagement Officer based in your school for further information on your school’s council. If you’re not sure who that is, drop us a line on For more information, click here (link) to check out our page on pupil participation in the Your Rights section.