Selling your subject – option choices

optionsPick me, pick me – what every secondary teacher is currently screaming at the top of their lungs. With subject choices at the end of S2, S3, S4 and S5 teachers in every subject (except Maths and English) are campaigning to try and make sure pupils choose their subject.

The reduction in the number of subjects that pupils study has made the selling of your subject more and more important. But how to do that? Here are some important things to keep in mind and to promote when marketing your subject at options time.

1. Can pupils come back to your subject later? – in all subjects this is doable. Even in languages it is possible to take it up again further down the line. Never say never.

2. Can pupils take up your subject even if they haven’t done it before? – this should always be an option if a pupil is willing to work hard.

3. What advantages does your subject give pupils? – let them know the skills that they will gain by doing your subject

4. What jobs can your subject lead to? – give real life examples that they can aspire to. If possible see if there is a careers fair to attend.

5. What does the course look like? – letting pupils know what the outline of the course is vital to helping them decide. If it connects to the work they have done already it may help them feel more comfortable about it.

6. What progression is there? – if they choose it at different stages make sure they know what learning paths are open to them.

7. Which teacher will they have? – knowing what teacher they will have can make a huge difference both before and after the options process. In a single teacher subject like mine then it is quite easy.

8. Have you made an effort grab them early? – sometimes we only start thinking about the options process when it is actually happening but mentioning it as early as possible including in first year will set the seed in pupils’ minds from the outset. Learning conversations about their progress and how they are feeling about your subject every term from S1 onwards will help you gauge which pupils are going to stay.

9. Celebrate success – show pupils that they are being successful in your subject.. Every pupil has their strengths make sure they know it. It will make them more likely to take your subject.

And finally

10. Keep your lessons fun and engaging right to the end of the year. Even after the options process is pupils can still change their minds and switch into or out of your class.

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