When thinking about the future, your next steps are an exciting part of your journey. There are lots of options available, so you need to do some research. Not everybody knows what they want to do, and this is quite normal, so you need to take the time to speak to your teachers, parents / carers and Careers Adviser to gain support.
It is a legal requirement to stay in full time education until you are 18 and you have 4 key options that you can look at going into:
- Full time education at your current school (sixth form), an external sixth form or a further education college
- you could look out gaining an apprenticeship or traineeship
- or your other option is to look at employment or volunteering with training
Deciding what to study and where, really depends on how you like to learn and what has motivated you over the last few years. You could look at academic qualifications such as A-levels or vocational qualifications such as BTECS.
A levels are academic qualifications studied over 2 years and you would normally choose to study 3 or occasionally 4 subjects.
A levels are exam based however in some subjects there may still be some coursework
To be able to study A levels you will normally need 5 GCSES including Math and English at grades 5 and above (some subjects may require a higher GCSE grade so make sure you check with the school or college)
How to choose your A levels
Things to think about
- choose subjects that you feel you are good at and will enjoy, think about your strength’s
- Research the content of the course, some subjects may not be what you think so it’s important to look at the modules and see if they are what you expected.
- Do you have a particular job or university course in mind for which you require specific A levels?
If you are thinking about going onto University (Higher Education), some courses will require you to have specific A level subjects, this may also be the same with you GCSE’s, so make sure you do your research when picking your course. Speak to your teachers and Careers Adviser to help support your choices.
BTEC qualifications are vocational and are often based on an area of study such as Health & Social Care, Engineering, Catering & Hospitality… This type of study is mainly practical and ‘hands-on’ in nature and features assignments and practical tasks for assessment (some courses will still have exams). There are lots of different BTECS at various levels, so there will be one to suit you. If you are unsure whether to take A levels or BTECs some sixth form colleges will allow you to mix both A levels and BTECs together.
Cambridge Technicals are also a vocational qualification and you can study them at level 2 and level 3. They are work related qualifications. They are flexible in the units studied so if you want to specialise in a particular area, you can choose a unit on that area. Make sure to explore this type of qualification fully.
What are T levels?
T levels are a new post 16 qualification, these qualifications have been designed alongside employers and business to enable students to gain both theory and industry-based experience. They are the equivalent to 3 A levels and take 2 years of full-time study.
These qualifications are available to study at some schools sixth forms, sixth form colleges and Further Education establishments
How do they work
Students spend 80% of their time in the classroom and 20% of their time on an industry-based placement. This equates to 45 days within the workplace during which time you will develop the skills required to work within that industry.
T Levels are not currently available in all subject areas so you need to research which schools and colleges offer which courses.From 2023 and over the coming years more subjects and sectors will be available. As these qualifications have been designed alongside employers and business, the skills and the industry placement you engage with should help you gain easier access into the workplace.
Sixth form is quite a popular choice. Depending on the type of sixth form (some are based in schools and some at colleges), you can study a blend of academic A levels and more vocational BTECS. Most sixth forms have a wide variety of subjects that you can study, with a great extra-curricular programme. Sixth form colleges are usually more informal than sixth form schools.