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Post 16 Opportunities

Post 16 Opportunities - Information for students, parents, carers and teachers.

The Government has increased the age to which all young people in England must continue in education or training (Raising of the Participation Age – RPA). All pupils will need to continue in some form of education, training or work with training until their 18th birthday. This does not necessarily mean staying in school; young people have a choice about how they continue in education or training Post-16, which could be through:

  • Full-time study in a school or college (also known as sixth form) or with a training provider.
  • At least 20 hours per week working or volunteering combined with part-time accredited education or training.
  • An Apprenticeship.
  • A Traineeship.

For further information visit the website

College or Sixth Form

College or Sixth Form is still the most popular option for Year 11 school leavers. There are a vast number of different courses available and many colleges or sixth forms offer courses for every level of ability.

Option 1: A Levels and AS Levels are often known as ‘academic qualifications’. They can prepare young people for university, work or apprenticeships. A student would normally pick 3 A level subjects and possibly one AS level to study (please check with each establishment) that:

  •  interests them
  • relates to a specific career
  • allows them to keep their options open and be flexible.

The New A level is linear, with all assessments being done at the end of two years of study.  Assessment is mainly by exam, with other types of assessment used only where they are needed to test essential skills, these non-exam assessments will account for no more than 20% of your final grade. 

The New AS Level will be a high quality standalone qualification and will be the equivalent to 40% of an A level. AS assessments will take place at the end of the first year and AS level results will NO LONGER COUNT towards an A level in the way they have done in previous years.

To study A levels, students will need at least 5 GCSEs grades 9 to 5/4 including English, maths and science in some cases. Be aware that because of the new number GCSE grading system some colleges are asking for grades 9 to 5 and others are asking for grades 9 to 4 – please check with each establishment. Some subjects will require a higher grade for example a grade 9 to 6 at GCSE for maths or science subjects.

Important things to consider when choosing A levels:

1.         This option will always have an external exam as PART OF or ALL of the assessment process. Some subjects will be 100% exam; others will be 80% exam and 20% non-exam. It is important to check when visiting the colleges/sixth forms.  

                2.         Students must be able to perform well in exam situations, be able to work independently and revise

Option 2: Vocational or Technical (some examples include BTECs and CTECs) qualifications. They are practical work-related courses which give students the skills they need for a certain industry or even a particular job or career. These qualifications are nationally recognised, valued by employers and universities and they offer a clear route into employment, apprenticeships and higher education.

Students would usually only choose one course, although some colleges/sixth forms offer the chance to do a mixture of technical qualifications or to do a mix of A levels and technical qualifications – please check with each establishment. This qualification is offered at a range of levels 1, 2 or 3. Which one students start on will depend on their GCSE results and previous experience. As a general rule the following applies:

•           Level 3 requires a minimum of 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 5/4 including English, maths and sometimes science – please check with the college/sixth form.

•           Level 2 requires mainly grade 3 across all GCSEs.

•           Level 1 requires mainly grades 2 to 1 across all GCSEs.

Courses on offer can include Animal Care, Business, Art & Design (different types available), Health & Social Care, Engineering (different branches available), Sport, Outdoor Education, Travel & Tourism, Hospitality & Catering, Public Services, Applied Science are just a few. Check with each college/sixth form to see what’s on offer.     

Option 3: NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications) are very hands-on, practical courses with regular and relevant work experience. These can be in areas such as the construction trades, catering, engineering and hair or beauty. Examples you might study at college:

  • City & Guilds Diploma in Professional Cookery or
  • VRQ Diploma in Hairdressing or
  • City & Guilds Diploma in Plastering

With NVQs there are 3 levels and most people start on Level 1 then progress to Level 3. Sometimes people will complete Level 1 and /or 2 and then complete a Level 3 through an apprenticeship.

Note: With Options 1, 2 or 3 if you don’t achieve your Maths and/or English GCSEs at Grade 4 the first time, then the college or sixth form will expect students to resit these again in addition to their other course(s). This is compulsory and not an option. The college or sixth form will discuss how this will work with potential students.

Please see further information regarding Post 16 opportunities in the attachment below: