Leaving school and deciding upon your next steps can be daunting. With different pathways to choose from at various colleges, sixth forms and providers it can be difficult understanding what is available and which is the right route for you.
The main pathways available are:
A Levels are subject based academic qualifications that can lead to university, further study, training or work. You can normally study three or more A Levels over two years. They are usually assessed by exams.
Every A Level provider will have their own entry requirements but you should be aiming for at least 5 GCSEs at grade 5 or above including English and Maths. Individual subjects will also have specific requirements and may require grade 6 in a related GCSE subject. For example, A Level Biology often requires GCSE Biology or GCSE Double Science at grade 6, A Level Spanish may require GCSE Spanish at grade 6, A Level Psychology may require GCSE Science and Maths at grade 5.
You can study A Levels at either a school sixth form or a further education college. It’s recommended that you do attend open evenings at various providers as each one is different; from the size of classes, the buildings and facilities to courses they deliver. Some providers will only allow you to study A Levels whilst others you can mix with a vocational subject. You need to find the right environment that supports your way of learning and will help you achieve the best results to continue you on your career journey.
When choosing your A Level subjects consider what job or career you are aiming for, which subjects are relevant or transferable and also if planning to go to university, what are their entry requirements as some courses require specific subjects. If you are not sure what career or job you want to do, studying a selection of A Levels can be a good way of keeping your options open.
A Level Providers
From Holy Trinity students have access to a wide range of providers who offer A levels.
Here are just a few of the main providers* our students have progressed to for A Level courses:
You can also search for the subjects you are interested in and find out where you can study using UCAS Progress
*Other sixth forms are available
Vocational / Technical Levels
If you know what job or job sector you want to go into you may want to study a vocational qualification.
There are many different types of vocational qualifications in a wide range of subjects at all levels, from Entry Level to Level 3. Your GCSE results will determine which level you start at.
Vocational courses are designed to help you learn in a practical way, providing hands on learning in real situations for a specific career pathway. They can help you get the skills you need to start a job, progress in a career or go on to higher education.
Assessment is mainly by course work but you may also need to sit some assessments.
There are a wide range of vocational courses available including business, catering, hair and beauty, engineering, construction, media, sport plus lots more. Check out all local colleges’ course guides and websites for more information.
Technical Levels (T Levels)
These are new qualifications which have been developed by universities, industry and professional associations to help address the national skills shortages. They will give students the opportunity to develop specific knowledge and practical transferable skills, with the Level 3 courses aiming to be as challenging as academic ones. There are lots of new courses in areas such as Video Games Arts and Animation and Cyber Security.
Post 16 Providers
Holy Trinity is ideally located for access to a wide range of post 16 providers.
Here are just a few of the main providers* our students have progressed to for vocational courses:
You can also search for the courses you are interested in and find out where you can study using UCAS Progress
*Other sixth forms are available
Apprenticeships are offered by employers, who will train you to do a specific job in their company. There are apprenticeships covering most industries. You’ll be employed to do a real job, spending most of your time in the workplace gaining job-specific skills, but you will also spend time, usually one day a week, working towards relevant qualifications at a College or training provider.
At the end of your apprenticeship, hopefully you will have gained the skills and knowledge needed to either secure permanent employment in your chosen career or progress onto the next apprenticeship level.
School leavers tend to start their training at Level 2 and progress to Level 3 with each level taking 1-2 years to complete.
There are increasing opportunities to take your study further into higher or degree apprenticeships, meaning you could gain a Level 6 qualification whilst you work with no university fees (these are paid for by your employer).
You’ll also be constantly developing your transferable skills, which are highly valued by employers. These include communication, teamwork and problem solving, as well as knowledge of IT and the application of numbers.
As you will be employed, apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage. This applies to all apprentices aged 16-18, or those in the first year of their course. Once you’ve progressed past this level, you’ll be entitled to the minimum wage rate for your age. However, some employers may pay you a higher wage.
Your working hours will vary depending on your employer, but you won’t be able to work more than 40 hours per week or any fewer than 30. Typically, you’ll work between 35 and 37.5 hours per week.
An apprenticeship is employment, you will have to apply, be shortlisted and attend an interview – the employer may receive lots of applications, yours needs to stand out. If you need support with this please see Miss Hardcastle.
National Apprenticeship Service
The National Apprenticeship Service is a government website for you to research and apply for apprenticeship vacancies. If you are interested in an apprenticeship, you should register online to be notified when employers advertise their vacancies in the career area you are interested in. Applications can usually be made through this site.
National Apprenticeship Service
If you would like support accessing this, Miss Hardcastle is on hand to help you write a CV and complete applications.
Post 16 Applications/Timeline
Applications to post 16 providers usually open from October for Year 11 students to submit their application forms either online or on paper.
Prior to making an application, you should have:
- Researched your career options – see Miss Hardcastle for a careers appointment
- Attended open days
- Explored all options/pathways – Vocational, A Levels, Apprenticeships
- Looked at the entry requirements for the course you want, are you currently on track to meet these grades, are there any specific subjects you need
If you are unsure where you want to study, you can apply to more than one provider (college, sixth form or training), usually for more than one subject and narrow your choices down after your interview.
Some providers may have closing dates so please check this carefully when doing your research.
Most post 16 providers will invite you in for an interview, which is a chat with the tutor of the course you are interested in. Here you will have the opportunity to ask questions about the course such as what will you study, where have students progressed to, what equipment will I need etc. You will also be asked to take a copy of your last STEPs report.
Following the interview, you will hopefully be offered a ‘Conditional’ place, which is subject to you meeting the entry requirements they specify. If you don’t receive an offer, please see Miss Hardcastle to explore alternative options.
You may be invited to attend taster days with your chosen provider. These are a chance to experience first-hand what the course will be like and to potentially meet other students.
For full-time courses, you will be invited by the provider to ‘Enrolment’. This usually takes place after your receive your GCSE Results in August. Make sure you pick up your GCSE Results!
Apprenticeships can start at various times of the year.
Year 11 students should visit colleges and sixth forms on their open days to find out more information about the courses on offer, the entry requirements, meet the tutors and see the facilities. This will help them to make their decisions on where they want to progress to after Holy Trinity.