Post 16 Options

Choices after GCSE  

The choices after completing GCSEs qualifications are dependent on a number of different factors including ambitions, the opportunities offered locally (LMI Labour market information), and the grades achieved. These choices will allow you to tailor education and study towards subjects you feel passionate about and allow you to gain the knowledge and experience needed to progress into your desired career path. 

After school you need to stay in some form of education or training until your 18th birthday. School leavers have a range of choices:  

  1. To stay in full-time education working towards, A-levels, BTEC, NVQ, T levels or an alternative level 1/2/3 qualification at a local college or sixth form. 
  2. An apprenticeship 
  3. A traineeship with the idea of progressing onto an apprenticeship or education 
  4. Employment or Volunteering of 20 hours a week whilst working towards an accredited qualification part time. 

Sixth Form  

Young people who feel they work and learn best in a classroom environment are likely to be interested in moving into Sixth Form where the most common qualifications are A-levels. A-levels are offered in a wide range of subjects – from academic subjects like English, Maths, History, Biology etc. to more work-based subjects like Health and Social Care, sport and exercise and business studies. Entry requirements for A-levels are usually at least 5 GCSEs at grade 4 or above.  

Further Education Colleges  

The courses offered at FE colleges are mostly vocational, learning skills with a more practical approach to learning.  

Entry level Qualifications – Designed to support students who received no GCSE grades and need support with basic Maths and English.  

Level 1 NVQ – Designed to support students who may have left with some GCSE grades but at a low level (E- G), student likely to focus on one specific subject  

Level 2 NVQ – Likely to be offered to students who achieved grades D/E and as above students will focus on one specific subject. Level 1 BTEC Introductory Diplomas and Certificates – This gives you basic knowledge and skills to show you can do a certain job.  

Level 2 BTEC First Diplomas and Certificates – Equivalent to GCSEs in a specific subject and are generally offered to students who achieve C/D/E’s at GCSE or above.  

Level 3 BTEC National Diploma – Equivalent to two a-levels and can be used as a pathway to university. It is likely to be in one specific subject Level 3 BTEC Extended National Diploma – Equivalent to 3 full A-levels and widely accepted by universities as an alternative to A-levels for degree courses.  

T-levels – equivalent to 3 A-levels, a two–year course with a mixture of classroom and work-based learning. Technical programmes, designed with employers, to give young people the skills that industries need. The ‘T’ stands for technical and from 2020, T Levels will give 16 to 19 -year old’s a technical alternative to A levels.  


Apprenticeship and Traineeships are becoming a real alternative route for those leaving school as it allows them to gain real life work experience, study towards a relevant qualification in that industry field and receive a wage currently £4.30 per hour ( correct at Jan 2022). Apprenticeships are stereotyped as a ‘second rate’ option but this couldn’t be more misguided; there are many subject options which allow an apprentice to study to degree level, same as what they would receive at university and get the benefit of combining these qualifications with years of practical experience.