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Post-16 Qualifications

Further Education colleges and sixth form colleges offer two main types of qualifications

  • A levels
  • Vocational qualifications eg. BTEC

plus anyone who doesn’t have at least grade 4 in Maths and English will have to continue studying towards their GCSE until they pass both or finish their college course.

A levels

Like GCSEs an A level covers one subject in depth and is assessed through exams at the end of a two year course. Most people pick 3 subjects but others may only do 2, if they have to resit their Maths or English GCSE.

Each college sets its own entry requirements but generally they are looking for a minimum of five “good” GCSE passes, usually at grade 4 or above. In addition some subjects might have their own requirement eg. a college may ask for a minimum of grade 6 in Maths for you to take A level Maths.

Vocational qualifications

If you choose a vocational quualification you study a variety of topics within one area of work such as engineering, catering or childcare. Vocational qualifications are usually more hands on than A levels, with a mix of both practical and theory.  They are usually assessed through a mixture of coursework  and assessments/exams.

There are vocational qualifications at different levels, with level 3 being equivalent to A levels.

Level 3 qualifications are equivalent to UCAS points and are accepted by universities- but if you have a specific degree/university in mind please check before deciding whether to take vocational qualifications or A levels.

Further information on UCAS points and the application process for university can be found on the UCAS website .

Technical qualifications: T-Levels

T Levels are new courses which follow GCSEs and are equivalent to 3 A levels. These 2-year courses, which launched September 2020, have been developed in collaboration with employers and businesses so that the content meets the needs of industry and prepares students for work, further training or study.

T Levels offer students a mixture of classroom learning and ‘on-the-job’ experience during an industry placement of at least 315 hours (approximately 45 days).

The first 3 T Levels are now available at selected colleges, schools and other providers across England.

A further 7 T Levels will be available in September 2021 with the remaining courses starting in either 2022 or 2023.

We have published a list of the providers who are offering T Level courses up to September 2022.

More information is available here

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