Post-16 and Post-18 Routes
There are a number of different routes open to students after they finish Year 11, please find more details of each of the following below.
- A Levels
- T levels
- Higher Education
What are A levels?
A levels are Level 3 subject-based 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 a series of exams.
What grades do I need to take A levels?
You normally need:
- At least five GCSEs at grade 9 to 4
- At least grade 6 in the specific subjects you want to study
The specific requirements needed to study A levels will vary across schools and colleges. You can check what you will need with the school or college you are hoping to study at.
Who are A levels for?
- If you are thinking about going to university, most higher education courses require specific A levels or combinations of A levels (or other Level 3 qualifications, such as T Levels)
- If you aren’t 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, and some jobs may require A levels
How should I choose A level subjects?
The most important things to think about when you are deciding which subjects to take at A level are:
1. What are you good at?
2. Are there are particular subjects and/or grades that you may need for a specific career, job or further study?
3. How open do you want to leave your options for future study and career choices?
For more information about A levels please see:
BTECs (The Business Technology Education Council)
BTECs are specialist work-related qualifications which combine practical learning with subject and theory content. They are designed for young people who are interested in a particular sector or industry but who are not yet sure what job they would like to do.
These qualifications are flexible – you can take one alongside (or instead of) GCSEs and A Levels in schools and colleges. They are divided into units which cover specific areas of knowledge, skills and understanding required by the particular sector or industry.
BTECs are broken down in to three main levels:
1. BTEC Firsts – similar standard to GCSEs
2. BTEC Nationals – similar standard to A Levels
3. BTEC Apprenticeships – available at Levels 2-5
For more information about BTECs please see:
CTECs (Cambridge Technicals)
CTECs are equivalent to BTECs in almost every way except that they are offered by the exam board OCR rather than Pearson, who run BTECs. They are offered at Level 2 and 3 and designed for students who are aged between 16 and 19.
For more information about CTECs please see https://thinkstudent.co.uk/what-is-a-ctec/
What is a T Level?
T Levels are two-year courses which are taken after GCSEs and are broadly equivalent to three A Levels. T Levels were launched in September 2020 and have been developed in collaboration with employers and education providers so that the content meets the needs of industry and prepares students for entry into skilled employment, apprenticeships, higher technical qualifications or university.
T Levels are a combination of practical and knowledge-based learning at school or college, and on the job experience through an industry placement of at least 315 hours, approximately 45 days.
T Levels differ from Apprenticeships. They are to prepare students for work, further training or further study. Employers and providers work together to develop each T Level and to ensure that students taking T Levels will develop the technical knowledge and skills required by employers in that industry.
What T Level subjects are available?
T Levels are available in:
- Agriculture, land management and production
- Animal care and management
- Building services and engineering for construction
- Craft and design
- Design and development for engineering and manufacturing
- Design, surveying and planning for construction
- Digital business services
- Digital production, design and development
- Digital support and services
- Education and childcare
- Engineering, manufacturing, processing and control
- Hair, beauty and aesthetics
- Healthcare science
- Legal services
- Maintenance, installation and repair for engineering and manufacturing
- Management and administration
- Media, broadcast and production
- Onsite construction
How are T Levels assessed?
Assessment is through a combination of examinations for the core skills and practical skills tests for the occupational specialisms.
Students who complete a T Level will receive an overall grade of pass, merit, distinction or distinction* and will be awarded with a nationally recognised certificate showing a breakdown of what they’ve achieved. It will also confirm that a student has met the minimum requirements for Maths and English qualifications.
T Levels are equivalent to three A Levels, and you can gain UCAS points from them for entry into university.
For more information about T Levels, please see:
What is Higher Education?
Higher Education (HE) is the continuation of study after the age of 18. It takes place at Universities and Further Education colleges. HE gives you the opportunity to study a subject you are interested in more closely and can boost your career prospects and earning potential. There are many different types of higher education qualifications, including:
Your choice of career might be a key factor when you are deciding whether to go on to HE, and what course to take. Some careers, including medicine, dentistry, chartered engineering and architecture require you to have a degree. Other professions, such as law and speech therapy, require you to have a postgraduate qualification on top of your degree before you can practise.
Or, you may just want to study a subject that really interests you or helps you broaden your knowledge in a certain area! Although it can be helpful to have a career path in mind before choosing a course to study, a higher education qualification helps you develop skills and qualities that all employers value, such as problem-solving and communication.
Contextual Offers for HE
A contextual offer is an offer from a university where the personal circumstances of a potential student have been taken into account. Usually, this is done to accommodate and even to attract students who have had to deal with difficult circumstances.
Universities have different criteria for who they will consider for contextual offers, and so the eligibility factors will change depending on where you are applying, but some of the most common requirements are:
- You are a first-generation HE student (the first in your family to attend university)
- You come from a low socio-economic group
- You attend a school with low progression rates
- You live in a low-participation neighbourhood or postcode area
- You have participated in an access to university or widening participation programme for a particular university for example
- You have a disability or learning difficulty
- You are a young carer
- Your school or college is eligible for contextual offers
- You are entitled to free school meals or discretionary payments
- You are a refugee or an asylum seeker
- You have spent time in care
Not all universities offer contextual offers for students, but it is unlikely that you will find any that don’t offer contextual offers in some form. If you are interested in applying to a particular university, and you would like to find out whether you are eligible for a contextual offer, you should check on their website.
Funding for HE
The cost of higher education can vary depending on where you study and the length of course.
TThere is a wide range of financial support available to students which can help pay tuition fees and support students through their study including bursaries and scholarships – which you do not have to pay back. You might get extra money on top of this, for example if you’re on a low income, are disabled or have children. Please see the government guide to student finance here.
For more information about Higher Education please see:
- Search and compare undergraduate courses in the UK
- Search for courses and requirements
- Information about applying for HE courses
- Next Steps South West is an outreach programme based in the South West providing impartial information about HE
What is an apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship is a real job where you learn, gain experience and get paid. You’re an employee with a contract of employment and holiday leave. By the end of the apprenticeship, you’ll have the right skills and knowledge needed for your chosen career.
It can take between one and six years to complete an apprenticeship depending on which one you choose, what level it is, and your previous experience. It is funded from contributions made by the government and your employer.
What can an apprenticeship lead to?
Many employers consider apprenticeships to be a long-term investment in an employee. Often an apprenticeship can lead to a permanent job with the same employer, or give better opportunities when applying elsewhere for a permanent job. Sometimes apprenticeships can be extended allowing the young person to continue working a studying for a higher level apprenticeship.
At the end of your apprenticeship, you’ll achieve the equivalent education level:
4,5,6 and 7
Foundation degree and above
6 and 7
Bachelor’s or Master’s degree
What do I need to apply?
To become an apprentice you must:
- Be 16 or over
- Not already be in full time education
- Live in England
You can start an apprenticeship at any level.
Depending on the level, some apprenticeships may:
- Require previous qualifications such as an English or Maths GCSE
- Give extra training in the English or Maths skills needed so you're at the right level
What can I earn?
What you earn will depend on the industry, location and type of apprenticeship you choose.
If you’re aged 16 to 18 or in the first year of your apprenticeship you’re entitled to the apprentice rate.
If you’re 19 or over and have completed the first year of your apprenticeship you’ll earn the National Minimum Wage.
This is the minimum you will earn – many employers pay a lot more and offer their apprentices a competitive salary.
Apprenticeships are funded from contributions made by the government and your employer. This means you will not have any student loans or tuition fees.
You just need to cover the cost of your day-to-day expenses, such as lunch and travel.
If you’re 16 to 24 and a care leaver, you’ll receive a £1,000 bursary payment to support the first year of your apprenticeship.
For more information about Apprenticeships please see:
- A national database of apprenticeship opportunities
- Advice about applying for apprenticeships
- Apprenticeships at Bridgwater and Taunton College
- Apprenticeships at Weston College
- Apprenticeships at Strode College
- Apprenticeships at Yeovil College
- Apprenticeships at Bath College