During year 11 all students will be support by the school in making their choices about their post-16 pathway. So what are the options open to students at Post-16?
What is an A-Level?
A-levels, short for advanced level are the traditional qualifications offered by school and colleges for students aged 16-19, and studied over two years. They usually focus on academic subjects, unlike vocational qualifications such as BTEC’s which are more vocational. A-levels are valued by universities and employers alike, and as such can open pathways to further study and career opportunities.
How are A-levels structured?
Students will be required to study a minimum of 3 A-levels (some students study more). Most A-levels will be linear as opposed to modular. What does that mean? It means that whilst there may be some coursework involved the majority of assessment will take place as exams at the end of the two-year course, rather than being assessed after each module. It is always best to check the sixth form providers prospectus for more details about each A-level.
What are the entry requirements for A-Levels?
The entry requirements for individual A-levels will vary from provider to provider and from subject to subject, generally you will need at least 5 GCSE at level 4-9, and subject specific entry requirements.
For example at St Benedict’s, if you wish to study any of the Sciences or Maths at A-level you will require a level 7 at GCSE, whereas if you were looking to study History, Geography or a Language you would require a level 5 at GCSE.
What are A-Levels equivalent to?
A-levels are level 3 qualifications and equivalent to a T-levels and BTEC level 3 Extended Diploma, and will allow students to progress on to university, higher level apprenticeships or the work place.
What subjects can I study at A-Level?
There are many subjects that you can study at A-level; these will vary from provider to provider.
Which A-levels give you the most options post-18?
Some A-level subjects really help to keep your options open; these are known as facilitating A-levels. The more of these you choose the more university courses you will have open to you. These can be especially useful if you are undecided on a particular degree or career pathway.
Physics, Biology and Chemistry
How are A-levels different from GCSE’s?
There is a big leap between GCSE's and A-levels, you may well find that a subject you think you have mastered will suddenly become way more complex. You will be studying subjects in more detail, and you will find that there will be a great emphasis on independent study, reading, and engagement when compared to GCSE’s.
It is important to remember that not all A-levels are created equal; some subjects are much harder than others are.
What is a T-Level?
T-levels are new qualifications that started in September 2020. They were designed with employers to give young people the technical and vocational skills that industries need.
How is a T-level Structured?
T-level students will spend 80% of their time on the course in the classroom, and 20% of the time learning the skills that employers need. Each T-level will include an industry-based placement of at least 45 days, allowing students to gain valuable work-based experience.
What are the entry requirements for a T-Level?
The entry requirements for a T-level can vary from provider to provider and from subject to subject. As an absolute minimum, expect them to require at least 5 GCSE’s at level 4 or above, to include Maths and English and Science.
Currently, the entry requirements for the Education and Childcare T-level at the West Suffolk College requires students to have 5 GCSE’s at level 4 or above, including Maths, English and Science, whereas the Science T-level requires students to have 5 GCSE’s at grade 6 or above, including Maths, English and Science.
What is a T-Level equivalent to?
T-levels are equivalent to 3 A-levels or a BTEC level 3 Extended Diploma, and allow students to progress on to university, skilled employment, of higher level apprenticeships.
What subjects can I study as a T-Level?
T-levels were phased in to selected schools and colleges in September 2020, with more courses becoming available in 2022 and 2023. By 2023 there will be more than 20 T-levels available for students to study.
- Building Services Engineering for Construction
- Design, Surveying and Planning for Construction
- Digital Business Services
- Digital Production, Design and Development
- Digital Support Services
- Education and Childcare
- Healthcare Services
- Onsite Construction
T-levels added from 2022:
- Design Development for Engineering and Manufacturing
- Engineering, Manufacturing, Processing and Control
- Maintenance, Installation and Repair for Engineering and Manufacturing
- Management and Administration
T-levels added from 2023:
- Agriculture, Land Management and Production
- Animal Care and Management
- Craft and Design
- Hair, Beauty and Aesthetics
- Media, Broadcast and Production
To find out more about T-levels - https://www.tlevels.gov.uk/
College - BTEC's
What is a BTEC?
BTEC standards for Business and Technology Education Council, BTEC’s are specialised work-related qualifications. They combine practical/vocational learning with subject and theory content.
BTEC qualifications are a good option for students with a clear idea of the type of career that they would like to move in to.
How are BTEC’s structured?
BTEC’s will be modular as opposed to linear. What does that mean? It means that whilst there may be some exams (some courses will not have any) the majority of assessment will continuous in the form of assignments, and presentations after each module. It is always best to check the provider’s website for more details about each BTEC and how they are assessed. Many BTEC courses will also come with the opportunity to gain work experience.
What are the entry requirements for BTEC’s?
The entry requirements for BTEC’s will vary from provider to provider and from subject to subject. For a BTEC Level 3 Extended diploma generally you will need at least 4/5 GCSE at level 4-9, including Maths, English, and depending on the subject, Science.
If you do not meet the entry requirements for a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma, most providers will offer BTEC courses at Level 2, Level 1 and Entry Level. Again, the entry requirements can vary and can be flexible depending on the outcome of the interview with staff. If you were to, for example, successfully complete a Level 2 BTEC it would allow progression on to the Level 3.
What are BTEC’s equivalent to?
BTEC Extended Diploma are level 3 qualifications and equivalent to three A-levels and T-levels, and will allow students to progress on to university, higher-level apprenticeships or the work place.
Some providers will also offer the opportunity to study BTEC Diplomas, which are equivalent to two A-levels, and BTEC Certificates, equivalent to one A-level. For example at St Benedict’s students can study for a BTEC certificate in Applied Science, Health & Social Care or Business alongside A-Levels.
What subjects can I study a BTEC in?
There are over 2,000 BTEC qualifications across 16 sectors, including.
- Applied science
- Art and design
- Health and social care
- Performing arts
- Public services
- Travel and tourism
What is an apprenticeship?
If you have a specific career in mind then an apprenticeship may be for you. On an apprenticeship, you are employed by a business to do a real job, whilst studying for a formal qualification such as an NVQ or BTEC. You will also be paid whilst on an apprenticeship,
How are Apprenticeships structured?
With most apprenticeships, you will be working for 80% of the time, and spend 20% of your time studying for your formal qualification at a college or training provider.
What are the entry requirements for an apprenticeship?
The entry requirements for an apprenticeship will vary depending on the level, and may well vary from employer to employer. However, as a general guide expect:
Level 2 apprenticeship - Most employers will want to see that you have proficient English and Maths skills. This means having your Maths and English GCSEs passed is a big advantage. If you don’t have your Maths and English GCSEs, your employer will ask you to complete a basic numeracy and literacy test, and you will likely be required to complete further English and Maths proficiency as part of your training. Many intermediate apprenticeships will not require you to have lots of formal qualifications, and previous experience (even a part-time job) might be enough to get you started on the right path
Level 3 apprenticeship – Employers will be looking for roughly 5 GCSE’s at level 4 or above, to include Maths and English, or successful completion of a level 2 apprenticeship.
What levels of apprenticeships are available?
Students taking up an apprenticeship post-16 will be either on a Level 2/Intermediate apprenticeship, which is equivalent to 5 good GCSE passes, or a Level 3/advanced apprenticeship, which is equivalent to two good A-levels.
Apprenticeship can also be studied at level 4 and 5, equivalent to a foundation degree, Level 6, equivalent to a bachelor’s degree, and level 7, equivalent to a master’s degree.
What employment sectors offer apprenticeships?
Actually, most job sectors across the UK offer apprenticeships, with a wide range of roles on offer within each.
- IT, technology, and telecoms: BT, Microsoft, Google, Virgin Media, IBM, Accenture, Capgemini, Fujitsu
- Financial services: Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland Group, HSBC, Aviva, Lloyd’s of London, Aon, Deloitte, PwC
- Engineering, manufacturing and construction: Rolls Royce, BAE Systems, Siemens, GlaxoSmithKline, Unilever UK Limited, Nestle, Mars UK, Balfour Beatty, Carillion
- Energy and utilities: British Gas, E.ON, npower, National Grid, EE
- Creative and media: ITV, Sky, the BBC, Ginger Nut Media
- Health, public services and care: NHS services, local authorities, the Police Service, HM Forces
- Leisure, travel and tourism: Places for People Leisure, DC Leisure, Thomas Cook, Ryan Air, Easy Jet, British Airways
- Hospitality and catering: Hilton Worldwide, Premier Inn, McDonald’s, Jamie Oliver, Pizza Express, TGI Fridays
- Retail and logistics: Boots, John Lewis, ASOS, George, Marks and Spencer, Asda, Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Royal Mail, Smiths News
- Vehicles and transport: BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, Vauxhall, Kwik-Fit, RAC, Network Rail, Stagecoach UK Bus, Servisair.
Where can you find out more about apprenticeships?
You can find out more about apprenticeship opportunities using the following websites:
- www.getingofar.gov.uk The National Apprenticeship Service website contains information on what apprenticeships are and how they work, films of apprentices’ experiences and tips for what employers look for when taking on an apprentice. There is a section for parents with handy tips on how to support your child into an apprenticeship. Current apprenticeship opportunities can be found by following the ‘Find an Apprenticeship’ link – this will redirect you to www.findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsearch where you can search for current vacancies by job role, occupation type, apprenticeship level or location.
- www.apprenticeshipguide.co.uk The Apprenticeship Guide contains brief summaries of every apprenticeship offered in England, general careers advice, real life case studies, employer advertising and a directory of training providers,
- www.allaboutschoolleavers.co.uk The AllAboutSchoolLeavers website contains information on apprenticeships, employers and industries offering apprenticeships, career opportunities, current apprenticeship vacancies, a Parent’s Guide to Apprenticeships, and a school leavers jobs advice and news section.
- www.ratemyapprenticeship.co.uk The RateMyApprenticeship website contains information on apprenticeships, employers offering apprenticeships, industry guides, current apprenticeship vacancies, apprenticeship reviews and an advice hub with resources for parents and students.
- www.notgoingtouni.co.uk The Not Going to Uni website contains information on apprenticeships, apprenticeship providers, current apprenticeship vacancies, career profiles, industry profiles, an Apprenticeship Guide 2017 and an advice centre.
For information on apprenticeship opportunities in other nations of the UK, see
What is a Traineeship?
A Traineeship is an education and training programme that helps prepare young people for their future careers by helping them to become “work ready”.
Designed for people aged 16 to 24 who are motivated to enter the workplace do not yet have the skills or experience needed. Traineeships provide the essential work preparation training, English, maths and work experience needed to secure an apprenticeship or employment.
What is included in a Traineeship?
Traineeships have three core elements to them:
- A high-quality work experience placement with an employer.
- Work preparation training, provided by the training organisation.
- English and maths support, if required, provided by the training organisation.
How long does a Traineeship last?
Traineeship can last up to 6 months, the content of the Traineeship will be tailored to meet the needs of the business and the individual.
What is the difference between a Traineeship and an Apprenticeship?
The difference between a traineeship and an apprenticeship is that a traineeship can either be a full-time or part-time employment based training arrangement, usually for around 12 months (apprenticeships usually last for three to four years) and is generally in a non-trade related area.
Unlike with an apprenticeship, Employers are not required to pay trainees whilst they are on work placement.
Where can you find out more about Traineeships?