So, your GCSEs are over and you’re still not sure what you want to do next. Most of your friends have chosen to go to college or sixth form to take the A-Level subjects they need to get into university… but is that really what you want to be doing for the next two years?
For those of you who are looking to do something slightly different over the next two years – fear not! There are plenty of different options available to you, and choosing a different educational path is only continuing to grow in popularity, year on year.
And if you’d prefer to stay at your school’s sixth form, don’t worry – this article takes you through everything you need to know before you embark on your journey to university.
Route 1 – Full-time Study
If you want to stay in full-time education, you have a couple of different options.
Instead of attending a traditional sixth form or college, you may wish to approach a training provider in order to access a different type of full-time study. Training providers across the UK offer qualifications such as:
- Cambridge Technicals
If you find that you prefer hands-on learning, (learning with an emphasis on practicality rather than theoretics) you may wish to pursue this line of study.
The courses offered by different training providers will vary, but most will involve specialist training for particular jobs, sectors, or subject areas. Some will lead to additional training programmes, and many offer chances to progress beyond further education to employment and university.
A-Level education (and equivalents)
After your GCSEs, you may want to continue your education at a sixth form or college. Here, you’ll be able to choose subjects to study for the next two years, at A-Level, International Baccalaureate (IB) and Cambridge Pre-U level.
Most of the students that choose this option will select subjects to study based on the university course they are looking at.
Typically, studying at this level requires you to have achieved at least five GCSE’s at the new standard pass grade of 4, which is equivalent to the old GCSE pass threshold of 5 subjects graded A*-C.
Some schools and colleges may ask for a specific GCSE grade in the subject you want to study at A-Level – for example, students wishing to take Mathematics for A-Level are typically asked to have achieved an A at GCSE.
Route 2 – Full-time work (with study)
For those of you wanting to jump straight into work, you may want to undertake an apprenticeship, traineeship, or supported internship after finishing your GCSEs.
As an apprentice, you’ll connect with a training provider offering the course of your choice. The government’s apprenticeship programme is growing yearly, with more employers offering different courses than ever before.
Interested in hairdressing? There’s an apprenticeship for that. Marketing? Nursing? Joinery? We guarantee you’ll be able to find an apprenticeship course for the subject that you’re interested in. The selling point for apprenticeships has always been the fact that you get to ‘earn as you learn’.
If your GCSEs didn’t go as planned or you’re not ready to jump straight into full-time work, you can take a traineeship first. They’re designed to prepare you for entering the world of work, and typically teach students literacy and numeracy skills alongside work experience training.
Students with learning difficulties can apply for a supported internship in order to prepare themselves for work.
These courses are unpaid and last for at least six months. Students are supported through a curriculum comprising of work experience and related study. Usually, supported internships are offered by employers, meaning that at the end the student has a chance to interview for an apprenticeship or job role within the company.
Route 3 – Part-time study, Part-time work
At 16, life can be hectic. If you’d prefer to get a taste for work whilst continuing your studies, you may want to look at combining training or studying with work or volunteering.
Doing so may broaden your horizons a little, and means you don’t have to compromise on either qualifications or work experience in favour of the other.
Many colleges and training providers offer a wide range of part-time courses, including BTECs, NVQs, and A-Levels. Finding a part time job will be up to you, but it’s important to let your employer know that you’re still in education so that they don’t request too much of your time.
Some part-time students prefer volunteering, whether it be as work experience or vocationally at a charity or shelter.
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