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Careers Leader: Penny Hudson
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Post 16 Qualification – Longfield

Further Education colleges, school sixth forms, and sixth form colleges offer two main types of qualifications:
  • A levels
  • Vocational qualifications e.g. BTEC, Cambridge Technicals

In addition, anyone who doesn’t have at least a 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, although some do have a coursework element.

Most students 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 4/5 or above. In addition, some subjects might have their own requirement, for example, a college may ask for a minimum of grade 7 in maths in order to enrol in A Level maths.

Vocational qualifications

If students choose a vocational qualification, they will 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 usually attract UCAS points and are accepted by universities. However, if students have a specific degree / university in mind, we strongly advise they 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 in 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).

T Levels are now available at selected colleges, schools, and other providers across England. Use this link to Find a T Level. More information is available here.

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