• Question: What GCSEs did you take and did you get any further education and was that eduction related to your job? What subjects did you most enjoy at school as well? Is the job that you have at the moment the one that you wanted at school?

    Asked by Trippy clapham on 8 Mar 2019.
    • Photo: Aileen Baird

      Aileen Baird answered on 8 Mar 2019:

      For my GCSEs I studied: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, English Lit, English Lang, Maths, French, Graphic Design, History & Music!
      I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was doing my GCSEs so I made sure I had a big variety of subjects, which I think is a really good tactic at GCSE level. After GCSEs I went onto do A levels, and I chose Biology, Chemistry, & French. Biology was my favourite, I chose Chemistry because I thought it was important for my biology studies (which it was!), and then french because I wanted to have a bit of diversity and not only be studying science.
      I originally though I wanted to study medicine, but after investigating the huge range of university courses available, I decided that a degree in biology would suit me much more- and I’m really glad I made that decision! I would strongly encourage anyone to do some research into the wide range of university courses/ higher education courses/ apprenticeships/ jobs because there are so many options!

    • Photo: Abbie Jordan

      Abbie Jordan answered on 8 Mar 2019:

      I took dual science, English Lit, English Lang, French, German, RE, History, Maths and something that is now alluding me! I loved English Lit and History most of all. I then went on to do English Lit, French and Chemistry (plus A level psychology at nightschool). My school did not offer it. I changed to English Litm French and History in my first year of A Levels. I then dropped French (was not loving it) as got an A in Psychology in my first year. So had one A Level already. Finished with English Lit, History and Psychology in the end!

      I wanted to be a journalist so English Lit was always my focus at school. I went to do a English Lit degree but swapped to Psychology. As you can see, I was uncertain but psychology won out. I love it and can see that was where I was always meant to be headed.

    • Photo: Nathan Hook

      Nathan Hook answered on 8 Mar 2019:


      I took 11 GCSEs across a wide range of subjects; I did GCSE statistics (separate to maths) as an extra on top of the school taught and GCSE Latin as an after-school club.

      I enjoyed a range of subjects, including Computer Science, English literature and Religious Studies.

      I did Computer Science at a traditional university, then Psychology with the Open University part-time. If you mean ‘Further Education’ as in adult education not at university level, my employer also put me on statistics qualifications offered by the Royal Statistical Society.

      When I was at school Psychology was not a subject (it’s now a very popular A-level) so I didn’t think about that in the same way and ‘data science’ also wasn’t a field. I’m not sure I had fixed idea about what job I wanted when I was at school, and the world and the jobs that exist has changed so much since then.

    • Photo: Natasha Myhill

      Natasha Myhill answered on 8 Mar 2019:

      I took English Lit, English Lang, Maths, Further Maths, Double science, German, Geography, Music, Art and Latin. When I was doing my GCSEs, I didn’t know that I wanted a career in science – I really enjoyed Biology, but I was also big into my music so I thought I might pursue that. It was only when I did a Chemistry camp one year (think it was year 9?) that I thought that a career in science could be an option.

      I then did Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Art A-levels, which I enjoyed. I enjoyed lots of different subjects in school, nearly all of my GCSE subjects (apart from Physics!!) so it was really hard to decide what to narrow it down to and what I might want to take further after school.

      When I was in school, I didn’t even know that my job existed! I feel like there are a lot of jobs out there in science that you just don’t learn about at school, and sometimes not even until the end of uni. The most important thing is to study something you really enjoy learning about, because wherever that leads you, you are bound to have a good career!

    • Photo: Eleanor Sherwen

      Eleanor Sherwen answered on 8 Mar 2019:

      Hi, I did GCSEs in English & English Lit, Maths, Double Science, History, Geography, Art, Resistant Materials (Design & Technology), German, and RE. I did A levels in Product Design, Maths, Chemisty, and History, and I went on to do a degree in Product Design Engineering. I now work as a mechanical design engineer, so that was education directly related to my job.

      My favourite subjects were maths and design & technology. I didn’t know quite what kind of job I wanted until I was about 17, although I knew I wanted something partly science-y and partly creative. I realised I had the most fun when I was making things in the workshop and I wanted to keep doing that. The job I have now is definitely what I wanted; it makes a difference and it’s really good fun, today I am taking apart electric bicycle motors so I can tinker with them.

    • Photo: Martin Coath

      Martin Coath answered on 8 Mar 2019:

      Hi all – what a lot of names! I did English, Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Geology. Then Maths, Chemistry and Biology at ‘A’ Level.

      As you can see I concentrated mostly on science stuff in lessons. But I also played in the school orchestra, did drama productions, and played a bit of rugby (I wasn’t very good I just enjoyed getting muddy) in after school clubs. So my school life was more than just science and I enjoyed all of it, most of the time, regardless of what I was doing.

      The thing about being a scientist is that you keep learning *all the time*. And most of what I have learned has been useful to me.

      I was never really sure what I wanted to do when I left school. Some people are just like that. I had to wait until I was a bit older before I had any idea what I wanted.

    • Photo: Tim Millar

      Tim Millar answered on 8 Mar 2019:

      I’m going to have to admit to being the last year of O levels but also took something called the 16+ which became GCSEs. I took 9 Maths, Eng Lang, Eng Lit, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Commerce, Computer studies and German. Then three A levels, Biology, Chemistry and Physics and I’m a lecturer in a biological subject and a research biologist, so yes it is related to my job.

      I enjoyed Biology and English at school. As for the job, well partly yes. I would like to do more science than the organising of my teaching but that is part of what i do. It does allow me to travel around the world and be lucky to think up new things to research. I have a lot of freedom and that is the advice I give to my own children, put yourself in the position with education to be able to make the choice of what you do rather than letting someone else choose for you

    • Photo: Tom Rooney

      Tom Rooney answered on 8 Mar 2019:

      I did GCSEs in Maths, English, Physics, Technology, Design & Communication and Information Technology. At school my favourite subject was actually biology but I knew I wanted to be an engineer in the Royal Navy so selected Physics as my science option as this was a requirement for the job. I use the things I learnt in most of my GCSEs daily, esp physics, maths and English.

      My further education was completed in the Navy – instead of A-levels I did HNC in engineering, and later in my career completed 2 further academic courses including teacher training.

      I have since left the Navy and work for a technology company specialising in underwater positioning and communication systems.

    • Photo: Tom Rooney

      Tom Rooney answered on 8 Mar 2019:

      I completed GCSEs in Maths, English, Physics, Technology, CDT Design & Communication and Information technology. I also attained a Cuty & Guilds ONC on day release to college under a scheme my school was offering. My favourite subject was actually Biology but I opted for Physics instead as this was a requirement to join the Royal Navy as an engineer. Having got good grades I was accepted into the navy and completed a 4-year apprenticeship achieving a C&G HNC. During my career in the navy I completed a number of academic and other courses.

      I have since left the Navy but still find I use things I learnt in my GCSEs daily, especially Maths, English and Physics.

    • Photo: Hayley Pincott

      Hayley Pincott answered on 8 Mar 2019:

      I took 7 GCSE’s and only manged C in 4 of my subjects. I wasn’t very academic at school so I loved Art and Dance, I absolutely hated science. I always got the lowest grades in my year so I felt really disengaged. As my grandad always encouraged me to learn science and maths, and I wasn’t sure what career I wanted but I felt drawn towards a career in healthcare. So I decided to do a GNVQ in Science. I went to a different school for 6th form but a new environment to study in saw my confidence grow, I started to enjoy studying science. I think it had a lot to do with my one teacher Mrs Williams. She was incredible and was always so encouraging and full of praise. At the end of my GNVQ I wanted to go to Uni, I still wasn’t sure of a career to chose human biology as I thought it wouild give me quite a wide scope of career choice. I fell ill at Uni, missed a few months and had to repeat my first year, but something didn’t feel right. I don’t know what it was but I knew full time Uni wasn’t for me.

      My grandad organised a visit for me to the pathology lab at my local hospital and I knew instantly that it was what I wanted to do so I started working voluntary in histology. I since moved to Cardiff and completed my HNC in Biomedical Science which meant that I could progress from a lab assistant to an associate practitioner. I’d love to be a Biomedical Scientist but I need to complete an IBMS accredited degree which I’m looking into.

      So to answer you questions: I did have to take further education to get this position in the lab, which is strange because I hated science at school, and in a way I wanted to work in healthcare which is what I do now (even if I wasn’t sure what exactly) I work in a lab where we help to diagnose a patients condition.

    • Photo: Ry Cutter

      Ry Cutter answered on 8 Mar 2019:

      Hi Trippy,

      I took 10 GCSEs:

      English language ,English literature, German, Drama, Food-Tech, Maths, General Science, Philosophy, ICT, and Astronomy (as an after school course)

      My clear strengths were in Maths and Science. So I decided to pursuit those further at A-level (Chemistry, Physics, and Maths I was only allowed to do 3). I was never really sure what I wanted to be, but I knew it would involve analytical thinking and probably computers. As they were the things I enjoyed doing and were good at.

      Those subjects are definitely related to my job now, but at the time I didn’t realise it.

      I finally did my degree/masters at university after A-levels. At that point I knew I wanted to do research, which really helped me focus on my studies.

      Hope that helps,


    • Photo: Emma Crawford

      Emma Crawford answered on 8 Mar 2019:

      GCSEs: English Language, English Lit, Maths, Statistics, Double Science Award, Spanish, Geography, Music, Textiles
      AS levels: Spanish, Further Maths, Music
      A levels: Chemistry, Maths
      Degrees: BSc Mathematics, MSc Medical Statistics

      I really enjoyed maths and music at school. I continued to study maths at uni, and kept music as a hobby. I never knew my job existed at school, I wasn’t aware my role existed until I did a placement year as part of my BSc degree. I needed my MSc to get my job.

    • Photo: Agnes Wojtusiak

      Agnes Wojtusiak answered on 11 Mar 2019:

      GCSEs: all the compulsory ones we had + ‘Triple Science’ (Biology, Chemistry, Physics), Geography, French and Polish (I’m Polish, so just did the exam with some study at home!)
      I had a problem at school – I sort of enjoyed EVERYTHING, so my A-levels and degree were hard to pick! I decided to focus on science because I could see a really cool link between science and everything else. So the A-levels I ended up doing were Physics, Maths, Chemistry (and, again, Polish), but I also did AS Geography and Further Maths, as well as about a month of Biology (which I dropped because 5 subjects at once was way too much…).
      I ended up studying Physics at university, as I thought that was the most ‘general’ science and could be applied to biology and chemistry. Right now I’m still a student, but I’m on a year out doing a work placement at STFC as a LASER scientist – that is NOT a job I even thought existed when I was at school, but I’m super happy to be here!! 😀

    • Photo: Sophie Louth

      Sophie Louth answered on 12 Mar 2019:

      Hi Trippy,

      I took: maths, biology, chemistry, physics, english lit, english lang, and french which were all compulsory at my school. Then I chose: spanish, latin, DT, geography. I also did GCSE german in my first year of sixth form – this probably wasn’t the best idea, I like the idea of being able to speak lots of languages but I am not very good at learning them.
      Since GCSEs I stayed at school and studied for A-levels in science and maths before studying engineering at University. I then got a job as a medical engineer – developing new hip replacements. I have now gone back to university to study for a phd in medical engineering.
      I didn’t know medical engineering was a thing until part way through my degree so no it wasn’t something I picked out while I was at school but I knew I wanted to do something with science.

    • Photo: K-Jo O'Flynn

      K-Jo O'Flynn answered on 13 Mar 2019:

      Hi:D My GCSE’s were very different to my apprenticeship at the moment! I took Dance, Music and Resistant Materials. As my schools was an arts school, engineering didn’t really take part. I was about to do A-levels when I realised I wanted to do an apprenticeship instead as I wanted more experience within the exciting world of engineering. I then ended up finding an apprenticeship with Oxford Space Systems, however, I had no engineering background so all was very new to me but I wanted to know about the world of engineering so I took the opportunity on and now I love what I do. I am now in my second year of my apprenticeship and loving it. I really enjoyed physics, dance, music and chemistry. When I was at school, I wanted to either do dance or music, however, I realised I loved the physics and I was very fortunate with my physics teacher as he supported me a lot. So by year 11, I finally decided I wanted to do engineering and six months later I got a job with space technologies and with my education being paid for.

    • Photo: Jordan Moir

      Jordan Moir answered on 5 Apr 2019:

      I am from Scotland but our equivalent of GCSEs I did – English, Maths, History, Chemistry, French, Biology, Computing and Music. I was not sure what career I wanted to do at this point so I did a large variety of subjects to leave my options open and for my highers and advanced highers (A level equivalent) I did more specialised subjects. I then applied through UCAS and went on to study for a batchelor of science honours degree in Applied Biomedical Science at Glasgow Caledonian University. For this degree you complete a placement and the course is accredited which allows you to work in the NHS when you graduate, however beware as in the UK many universities offer the biomedical science degree but they are not accredited so you will struggle to find a job at the end of studying. I really enjoyed biology at school, I love learning how things work and that is why I really enjoy my current job. At school I wanted to do forensic science but there is not much jobs for this in the UK each year and when I was really young I wanted to be an astronaut so totally different from what I do now!