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opportunities after school

Opportunities After School

What education, employment and training options are available when I leave school?

Pupils leave year 11 at one of four levels:

  • Below level 1 (fewer than 5 E-G grades, including no qualifications)
  • Level 1 (5 or more E grades)
  • Level 2 (5 or more D grades)
  • Level 3 (5 or more A* - C grades)

The most suitable post 16 route may depend on GCSE qualifications gained.

Three main options exist for school leavers: Education, Employment and Training.


  • School leavers can usually progress to courses run by schools (6th forms) or colleges. Applications can be made to any school or college, even if it is out of county. However, you need to be aware that in most cases funding will not be available to provide transport.
  • School 6th forms usually provide a range of level 2 and level 3 courses. Level 2 courses may be a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) or another course such as a BTEC First Diploma. Level 3 courses are usually A/AS levels.
  • Colleges provide a wide range of courses from pre level 1 up to level 3. These often include NVQs, BTEC 1st Diplomas (level2) and BTEC National Diplomas (level 3). BTEC 1st Diplomas are equivalent to 5 GCSEs at A*-C and BTEC National Diplomas are equivalent to up to 3 A levels (depending on final grade achieved). College campuses also allow progression onto university level courses for suitably qualified students.

To view information showing how courses and apprenticeships relate in terms of academic levels click here (opens a separate window).


Students can access part-time employment whilst in Education. However, full-time employment is accessable for students post 18. Although employment appears a popular option for some school leavers it is an option young people should be wary of. The job market had changed dramatically over the past couple of decades and the skill set required by employers is increasingly demanding. Many of these skills require further or higher education. Other issues concern low wages, limited training and few opportunities for career progression.


Training is usually in the form of an apprenticeship (also known as Worked Based Learning). Apprenticeships are usually at one of three levels:

  • Foundation apprenticeship at level 2 and Advanced apprenticeship at level 3

Students may start on a one year foundation apprenticeship before progressing to a two year advanced apprenticeship. Alternatively, some apprenticeships will allow you to start at advanced level if you have the required experience and/or grades (usually 4 or 5 GCSEs at C or above). Entry requirement vary from depending on the chosen career and/or employer.

  •  Higher Level Apprenticeship at Level 4 and above

This level of apprencticeship usually requires Level 3 qualifications as an entry and will allow students to persue a Foundation Degree or higher within an apprenticeship scheme.

Apprenticeships usually consist of 4 days a week in a job and 1 day a week at college or a training centre working towards an NVQ qualification (NVQ2 for foundation apprenticeships and NVQ3 for advanced apprenticeships). However there are many variations on how apprenticeships are organised.

There is no one set process for applying for an apprenticeship. Applications vary depending on the chosen career path and other factors such as the college or training centre affiliated with the employer. Most colleges offer their own apprenticeships.


Many students decide to persue studies through Higher Education and this can be done through the University route, exploring options in Undergraduate courses. Students can use websites such as UCAS www.ucas.com and Which University  http://university.which.co.uk/ to support their research and plan to find suitable courses that meet their Level 3 qualification grades.


The White Horse Federation

Swindon Schools

Wiltshire Schools

Gloucestershire Schools

Oxfordshire Schools

Berkshire Schools

The White Horse Federation