School and College

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Starting secondary school can be a very exciting, although slightly daunting prospect. In this sections you’ll find tips on how to help you settle in.

Here are some tips to help you:

    • In year 6 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. 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.
    • 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 7 pupils are in the same situation as you and are probably feeling many of the same feelings and share the same worries and reservations.

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, it‘s important to try your best in all subject areas!
    • 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.

For more information about school and college, you can check out these organisations that offer Support, Advice, and Guidance: Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Education, Coleg y CymoeddCareers Wales Education, Studential, Meic and Family Lives.


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. Also, 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.

For more information about qualifications, you can check out these pages that offer Support, Advice, and Guidance: Careers WalesCareer Wales’ – Guide to Qualifications and Meic

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 YEPS worker based in your school if you’d like some advice on making your choices.

If you’re unsure who your YEPS worker is, check out our Activities page and the interactive map. Find your school and your YEPS workers details will be found on that page.

The Careers Wales website also 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.

For more information about leaving school and your options, you can check out these pages that offer Support, Advice, and Guidance: Your Options at 16, Choosing the Right A levels, Apprenticeships and UCAS’s Post-16 Options.

Revision Tips

It’s normal to feel stressed 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.
  • Time Management – Use your time effectively and plan ahead.
  • 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.
  • 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 subjects 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.


The 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!

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.

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.

For more information about leaving revision and exams, you can check out these pages that offer Support, Advice, and Guidance: BBC’s GCSE Bitesize, How to Study, Test Taking Tips, The Student Room – Revision Tips and The Mix – 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.

If you’d like to find out more about the UNCRC, or even what is means, click HERE.

You can also contact the YEPS worker based in your school for further information on your school’s council or visit our Have Your Say page.


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 a 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

If you’ve been excluded from school, Snap Cymru is an organisation that can offer you support and guidance. Also check out these pages for more information: Appealing an Exclusion and Pupil Referral Units.