All young people must be in some form of education or recognised training until they are 18. The main post 16 options for young people are…

  • Full time education at a school or college e.g. A Levels or Vocational Qualifications;
  • A ‘T Level’ – new two year Level 3 qualifications – equivalent to 3 x A levels, delivered in college and related to a job role
  • An apprenticeship
  • Part time education or training – this must be in addition to employment, self-employment or volunteering for a minimum of 20 hours per week.

The Government have provided a useful summary of all the options including guidelines on the type and amount of learning which is required alongside working or volunteering.

Why study after 16?

Pursuing additional qualifications beyond the age of 16 proves beneficial as it broadens job opportunities. Consequently, young people are more inclined to secure employment aligned with their interests rather than resorting to unskilled labour. Enhanced qualifications offer your child the prospect of higher earnings and, according to research, increased job satisfaction.


Qualifications are essential for creating opportunities as they’re typically necessary for most jobs. Employers often seek at least basic proficiency in maths and English for entry-level positions. Qualifications generally fall into two categories: academic and vocational, with options including A-levels, BTECs, Applied Vocational CTECs, and the latest addition, T-levels.

Different levels explained

If you’re pursuing Level 2 qualifications and manage to attain 5 GCSEs at grades 4 and higher, you’ve completed your Level 2 studies. This achievement opens up the opportunity to progress to Level 3, which is comparable to A-levels. However, if you don’t achieve your GCSEs as desired, don’t worry, there are still numerous options available, allowing you to study at the level that best suits your needs.

Options After Y11

School Sixth Form / Sixth Form College

Some schools have a Sixth Form within them. Staying at your current sixth form school may appeal to you due to the familiar environment you’ve experienced over five years. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that the sixth form might be situated separately within the school premises, with a potentially more formal atmosphere than college. Specific dress codes, like business attire, could also apply. Moreover, expect to encounter a broader range of subjects, including some that are new to you. Thorough research into these subjects is essential. If the school’s sixth form isn’t appealing, consider exploring Sixth Form Colleges dedicated to year 12 and year 13 students as another viable option.

FE College

Further Education Colleges offer diverse courses tailored to future job growth, ranging from academic to vocational and professional. They utilise Labour Market Information and local employer relationships to align qualifications with market demands. Attended by individuals aged 16 and above, though predominantly between 16 and 18, these colleges vary in size and specialisation. They provide courses at all levels, from entry to higher qualifications like HNC/HND and degrees. Unlike school, FE colleges foster a more adult environment, where students typically address teachers by their first names and are encouraged to be independent. However, they remain supportive and structured, often involving parents in events like parents’ evenings. Full-time courses typically require 16+ hours per week, allowing students to balance part-time jobs alongside coursework. Those needing to retake English and maths may have additional hours.

An Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship combines earning and learning by offering a full-time job within a particular sector while simultaneously working towards a qualification in that field. The duration of apprenticeships can vary, typically ranging from 1 to 4 years.

Employment with accredited training voluntary work with training

You have the option to seek employment, whether it’s through traditional employment or self-employment, or engage in voluntary work for a minimum of 20 hours per week. However, it’s important to note that you must simultaneously pursue studies towards an accredited, nationally recognised qualification. For additional details, please refer to the further education section on the website.

Y11 - Calendar To-Do list

In the Autumn term

(September to December)

  • Research courses, attend open days, and review entry requirements.
  • Determine application processes and seek guidance from a careers adviser.
  • Create a professional email and stay organised.
  • Attend post-16 sessions for option discussions.
  • Stay updated on deadlines, especially for A-level courses.
  • Prepare a personal statement and CV section.
  • Be ready for interviews to assess suitability.
  • Develop Plan A and Plan B for alternatives.

In the spring term

(January to April)

  • Check emails regularly for interview invitations and confirm promptly.
  • Submit enough applications and have a backup plan in case of changes.
  • Ensure grades are on target; communicate with teachers for support if needed.
  • Submit applications to Further Education colleges promptly.
  • Craft a CV, particularly for apprenticeship pursuits, and watch for increasing vacancies.
  • Attend apprenticeship events to network with employers and discuss career goals.Top of Form

Summer term

(April – July)

  • Seek advice from your careers adviser if you haven’t applied yet.
  • Stay vigilant with your email and confirm your choices to secure your place.
  • Consider work experience or volunteering; consult a teacher or careers adviser for guidance.

Checklist action points

  • Whatever path you decide to explore you don’t have to make all these decisions on your own, Speak to those around you
  • Your team tutors, teachers, and mentors possess valuable subject-specific insights about you. Schedule a careers interview with your adviser, even if you’re unsure about your direction; they’ll provide guidance to kickstart your journey.
  • Seek input from your family, especially older siblings who’ve navigated similar paths.
  • Utilise online career portals for research and learn about application processes for various options. Applying to multiple places allows flexibility in decision-making.
  • Explore Further Education websites, attend open evenings, and participate in taster sessions for firsthand experiences. Thorough research enhances your decision-making ability.
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