A Parents’ Guide to BTEC Qualifications

My son is sitting his GCSEs this year, 8 “normal” GCSEs and a BTEC in Sport and then at college, he wants to study a BTEC in Sales and Marketing. I must admit I was really confused to start off with, was he going backward? Why are BTEC’s offered at 2 levels and what are they worth in comparison to more traditional exams (GCSEs and A’Levels)? BTEC qualifications are vocational courses that can be studied in place of GCSEs at level 2, A levels at level 3 and can be studied all the way to level 7. They are an alternative route for those who prefer coursework and offer students access to many of the same opportunities. If you’re not familiar with BTEC’s, this guide which we’ve created with the help of a sixth form college in London provides a brief overview.

A Parents' Guide to BTEC Qualifications

A Parents’ Guide to BTEC Qualifications:

How Are They Graded?

The grading structure is very different from what you and your child are perhaps used to. The grades that can be achieved in order from lowest to highest are:

  • Pass (P)
  • Merit (M)
  • Distinction (D)

At level 3 there’s also a (N), or near pass that is awarded to those who do not pass.

Can You Go to University with BTECs?

More and more universities are recognising the value of vocational education. Before choosing a course however, it is important that your child does their research to ensure that the choice they are making will allow them to enter the course/career they are interested in.

Are BTECs Easier Than GCSEs and A Levels?

BTECs are a great alternative for those who struggle with exams as they mostly involve coursework and practicals. While there are fewer exams, however, BTEC’s can be just as challenging as there are coursework requirements for pupils to meet. 

Must They Be Studied Full Time?

BTECs can be studied either full time or part time, allowing for greater flexibility and for students to also earn whilst they learn via an apprenticeship or any other form of employment. 

Will A BTEC Limit My Child’s Career Prospects?

There are a wide range of BTEC courses to choose from and they offer phenomenal career opportunities. However, it is important to be mindful of their longer-term goals. Depending on the career they wish to pursue, to move up the career ladder within their profession your child may need to carry out specific studies and that will be dependent on whether they have the right entry requirements. 

These are just a few key points and pieces of advice to bear in mind when helping your child make the decision that’s right for them. There is a wealth of resources that you should also review to learn about what each course entails. A prospectus is an excellent way to gain an overview and it can be just as helpful to speak to teachers who can make recommendations based on your child’s ability.

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