All students have to stay on in education, training or employment with training until they are 18. If any students do not achieve a grade 4 or above in GCSE Maths or English they will also be required to carry on studying these subjects at school, college or as an apprentice.
After GCSEs, students can choose:
- Full time education at a sixth form or college
- An apprenticeship
- Employment or voluntary work (minimum 20 hours) with part-time education or training
Sixth Forms and Colleges
There are two main types of qualification: academic and vocational. Academic qualifications prepare students for higher education or employment. Students usually need to obtain at least 4 or 5 GCSEs grade C or above to study A-levels, although there may be exceptions. Most sixth forms or colleges expect students to choose to study 3 or 4 AS or A-level subjects. AS levels take one year to complete. Students taking A-levels will study the subject for two years and reach a higher level. Recent changes mean that AS qualifications will not count towards A-level results, but A-level students may still sit AS level exams after the first year to obtain the qualification and monitor their progress.
It is important that students choose A-levels that will allow them to follow the career or university course of their choice. They can explore University courses and find out entry requirements using the UCAS website.
As many students are unsure about their long-term career aspirations, it is wise to choose A-level subjects that will keep their options open. Students who have the potential to progress on to some of the most highly regarded universities may need to take care to choose the more traditional A-level subjects. Academic students who want to keep their options open are encouraged to study at least 2 of the following subjects: Maths/Further Maths, English, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geography, History, Modern and Classical Languages. (These are known as facilitating subjects and they are highly regarded by employers and Universities) The Russell Group of Universities gives advice about course choices on their website.
Vocational qualifications usually take one or two years and suit students who want to learn more about a particular area of work or train for a particular industry. They combine classroom learning with research and practical activities. The majority of vocational qualifications are offered at colleges and are available at different levels. The entry requirements depend on the college, subject and level.
An apprenticeship combines working and earning money with training at a college to obtain qualifications. There are over 250 different types of apprenticeship available ranging from hairdressing to accountancy. At age 16, students can do an apprenticeship at Level 2 (Intermediate) or Level 3 (Advanced). An apprenticeship can lead on to a Higher Apprenticeship or a Degree-level Apprenticeship.
Students can find out more and search for apprenticeships on the government apprenticeships website.
Please see our apprenticeships section for further information on available apprenticeship opportunities.