This section of the website is focused on further education, it covers:
Routes available to you after GCSEs
How to decide what to do
Get started below.
You must stay in some type of education until you are 18 years old. There are three main routes you can take after your GCSEs. These are vocational, apprenticeship-based and A levels.
A-levels are the main academic route. They are achieved after two years of study and there are lots of different subjects to choose from. You can take A Levels at a sixth form in a school (if you are 16 years old) or at a local further education college (you can be older than 16 years old when you start). You can also take A-levels alongside vocational qualifications. Most people take A-levels if they want to go to university but these are not the only qualifications that can lead you to a degree course.
A traineeship is a course with work experience that gets you ready for work or an apprenticeship. It can last up to 6 months.
You can apply if you’re:
Eligible to work in England
Unemployed and have little or no work experience
Aged 16 to 24 and don’t have A Levels or the equivalent
You don’t get paid but you can get expenses for travel costs.
When you do an apprenticeship you’re out in the workplace four or five days a week and earn a wage, but some of your time is also spent working towards professional qualifications. Certain types of apprenticeships can also lead to university qualifications.
You can also opt to take vocational qualifications offered by a sixth form or local college. Vocational qualifications are qualifications related to a specific area of employment, e.g. if you want to do care work, you could take Health and Social Care.
Vocational qualifications start at different levels. For example, if you want to enter the world of construction trades, you will probably have to start at a slightly lower level because you need to get all the hand skills required.
They’re much more hands-on: you could be in a studio, workshop or on a farm. From September 2020, there is a new type of vocational qualification available in England – T-levels. They are two-year courses, equivalent to three A-levels, where you spend 80% of your time in classroom-based learning and 20% on industry placement(s).
How to decide what to do…
If you’re interested in a certain career, but to get there you need to take subjects that you don’t like, think about it carefully! Why not start with the subjects you really enjoy, and take it from there?
Whatever you decide, remember: this is your life! Don’t be influenced by where your friends are going. Ask yourself: what do I enjoy? What would I like to do? And what do I want to get out of my life?
Also, think about how you enjoy learning new things: is it in a classroom, passing exams and writing essays? Or is it doing more practical activities?
And don’t forget to talk to teachers, career advisors and your support worker if you have one – they have lots of knowledge and wisdom to share!
Funding - 16 to 19 Bursary Fund
You could get a bursary to help with education-related costs if you’re aged 16 to 19 and studying at a publicly funded school or college in England - not a university or on a training course, including unpaid work experience. A publicly-funded school is one that does not charge you for attending it.
If you’re 19 and over you could also get a bursary if you either are continuing on a course you started aged 16 to 18 (known as being a ’19+ continuer’) or have an Education, Health and Care Plan.
A bursary is money that you, or your education or training provider, can use to pay for things like: clothing, books and other equipment for your course or transport and lunch on days you study or train.
There are certain rules to applying and the amount you get varies depending on things such as how many hours you study and your expenses.
To get the bursary you need to apply to your school, college or training provider.
LET’S RECAP ON WHAT WE HAVE COVERED
COURSES - You have to stay in education after GCSEs but there are lots of options. Look at all of them and pick the one that suits you best.
FUNDING - Try and get some funding to help pay for living expenses.