Education for students aged 16 and over

Currently this level of study is optional in the UK; however come 2015 this will become the new minimum compulsory study. A level 3 qualification according to the NQF framework will be the new minimum.

There are many options and courses available when it comes to post-secondary study.  These will be the qualifications that determine the direction your working life will take. Further education for post 16’s is divided into 2 main categories, academic and vocational.

  • Academic:
    Academic study is geared towards students who are looking to continue their education into the higher levels. These would serve as entry qualifications for higher education and university.

  • Vocational:
    A vocational qualification is for individuals who do not wish to continue into higher education. This sort of qualification provides practical skills and certification in order to peruse a trade career or a specific job in industry.

Further Education, or FE for short, is the name given to the next level of study you can take after you finish your GCSEs at school.

Further Education study boosts career prospects and future earning potential, but also prepares for further study or Higher Education, such as university. This level of study can be quite flexible so once it’s thought about what the child wants to study; it’s also worth considering which learning environment would be best suited. There is a choice of: 

  • School sixth form,

  • Sixth form college,

  • Further education college or

  • A specialist college.

Each of these learning environments has its own structure and atmosphere, and will offer a different range of subjects and courses.

If a student has a disability or conditions that require extra help or special needs, there are educational establishments that are specifically geared towards the education of such children. However, most schools, colleges and universities are able to offer extra help and support to students who require it.

Education after 16 doesn’t just mean staying at school full-time: a child can stay at school, go to college, or take up an apprenticeship or a part-time training course. They can earn money and learn new skills at the same time if they want to.

The main qualifications available are: 

  • Diplomas: providing the background for a range of careers

  • Vocational Qualifications: for young people who already know what career they want to follow and need training for specific jobs

  • A Levels: offered as specific mainly academic subjects

  • International Baccalaureate:  offering a wider range of subjects than A levels

  • Functional Skills: This qualification can continue to form part of the Diploma, Foundation Learning and included in some Apprenticeship frameworks

  • Foundation Learning: has been developed for low attaining 14-19 year olds to help raise participation, attainment and progress

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