Help & advice

Is your child interested in science? How can you encourage this? What can a parent or carer do to make the most of a growing curiosity about how things work and a young person’s wonder at the world around them?

Encouraging secondary school students

  • Encourage them to find and question people who work in the area of science or engineering which interests them.
  • Encourage them to talk to you on how you use STEM in your daily lives as well as in your workplace to enhance your career. This will help them to give STEM subjects a purpose outside the classroom.
  • Young people with a specific interest may enjoy going to talks and events held by local societies. There are often astronomical and geological societies or engineering institutions and, for example, the Institute of Physics and the Royal Society of Chemistry all have local organisations.
  • You may want to start supporting your child in his or her research into university courses which may be of interest. Take the search from your child’s particular interest and investigate the courses available in those subjects.
  • The ‘Your Daughter’s Future’ guide developed by the National Careers Service is a useful resource for parents to help support their children making decisions about their future. It offers advice for parents with children aged 12-16 on areas such as deciding on GCSEs and A Levels, managing exam stress and encouraging confidence. Although aimed at girls, it can be relevant for both genders, and has tailored information for different ages.
  • There are residential opportunities at universities which give a taste of university life (e.g Headstart).
  • The UCAS website is a good place to start for the information about the process of applying to university and there is a helpful section for parents.
  • The careers room at school will also be a good source of information.

You may also find some of the tips in the pages for primary school level children are relevant for younger secondary school children.

What to ask about university courses

These might be some of the questions to ask at a university open day, to help your son or daughter make the right decision:

  • How is the learning organised? What project work is involved?
  • Are there opportunities to get involved with the new developments in the area to be studied?
  • What have successful students gone on to do after completing this course?
  • What research do the lecturers on the course do?

You may also find it useful to look at our guide to applying to Higher Education.