College/Sixth Form (Further Education)
Colleges and sixth forms offer a broad range of academic and vocational courses. Courses range from level 1 through to level 3. Which level you start on depends upon your GCSE results. The idea is that you can progress through the levels, progression criteria applies so this must be checked. Most courses are full time (2-3 days spread over five). Please speak to your careers adviser for specific details on colleges and available courses.
As employees, apprentices earn a wage and work alongside experienced staff to gain job-specific skills. Off the job, usually on a day-release basis, apprentices receive training to work towards nationally recognised qualifications. Apprenticeships can take between one and four years to complete depending on the level of Apprenticeship, the apprentices’ ability and the industry sector. The minimum salary is £2.50 per hour; however, many apprentices earn significantly more.
Entry requirements depend on the training provider and the vocational area you wish to pursue. It must be noted that in order to have an apprenticeship you must have a job! In today’s climate this may prove difficult so it is essential that you discuss full time back up options with your careers adviser.
Employment is an option for school leavers. However, options are limited and remember there is a big difference between a job and a career!
There are some financial implications for you and you parents to consider with this option. It is always advisable to have a full time back up option in place as there are no guarantees that you will secure worthwhile employment. If you decide that seeking employment is your first option upon leaving school please speak to your careers adviser who can support you with this.
There are two main types of qualifications
These are more commonly known as A-levels and are academically based. You will need five GCSE grades A-C to secure an A-level programme, including English and maths. Some A-levels will require a GCSE grade C or above in a particular subject, it is advised that you contact the college of your choice for specifics. Usually they continue on from subjects studied at school. They take two years to complete. You choose four subjects to study within the first year (known as AS-levels). You then take three of the four subjects onto the second year (known as A2 – full A-level). A-levels are level 3 qualifications. They are assessed by annual examinations and are a route into university.
Some colleges/sixth forms also offer GCSE resits as a part of an A-level programme (and in some cases as a full time resit programme). Entry requirements for GCSE resits differ with each college. It is advised that you speak to your careers adviser for further details.
these are more commonly known as BTECs and NVQs/apprenticeships and are designed to reflect a vocational/industry area, such as sport and leisure or health. They come in three levels.
BTEC National offers come in four different guises; National Certificates (1 AS-level) National Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma (1 A2-level), National Level 3 Diploma (2 A2-levels) and National Level 3 Extended Diploma (3 A2- levels), each taking two years to complete. Each has a different value for university entry.
University entry is also dependant upon how well you pass the qualification. BTEC Nationals require four GCSE grades A-C for entry, including English and maths. Some will require grades C or above in particular subjects it is advised that you contact the local colleges for specifics. They are usually assessed by the way of practical assessments and assignments. Again they are a route into university.
(There is a significant difference between an academic subject and its vocational alternative. For example an A-level in media will look at current political influences within media and look at large media organisations, whereas a BTEC in media will look at practical media production such as producing films. This must be taken into consideration when looking at your options.)
You could also undertake one of the new 14-19 Diplomas however, Diploma subjects are currently limited. Their titles can also be misleading, for instance the IT diploma involves looking at IT within business and business development, rather than looking at hardware or software. Diploma subjects include sport, public services, IT, creative/media, society, health and development and travel and tourism. If you are interested in this option it is advisable that you research it thoroughly and speak to your careers adviser and local colleges.
Apprenticeships are also and option at this level (although it is likely that you will start on a level 2 programme and work towards level 3).
BTEC level 2 or BTEC First Diplomas. These level 2 courses usually require four GCSEs at grade D or above, including English and maths. They are usually assessed by the way of practical assessments and assignments and last for one year.
Again apprenticeships are available at this level – please see above for details.
Most colleges/sixth forms offer level 1 courses across all of their subject areas (excluding A-levels). They are known by many different names such as BTEC level 1, BTEC introductory diplomas, NVQ 1 (this is not an apprenticeship) and foundation learning. The titles of level 1 courses constantly change so you will need to discuss this with your careers adviser. Entry requirements will also differ with each college/sixth form but usually ask for 3-4 GCSE grades E-G.
Common Application Process (CAP)
The CAP is an online system which the school will use to allow you to research and apply for post 16 options. You will be given a unique username and password and will be able to access the system on any computer or device with internet connection. You will be given time in year 11 to use the site and to apply for courses etc. You are also encouraged to use the site at home.