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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

What options are available for students after their GCSEs?

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Apprenticeships, Exams and qualifications, Further education, GCSE results, T Levels

After young people have completed their GCSEs there are a range of possibilities open to them including continuing education by taking A levels or going down one of several technical education routes now available to them, including T Levels.

Here, we provide some of the exciting options for post-16 education.

A levels

A levels or Advanced Levels are two-year subject-based qualifications for students aged 16 or older who plan to go to university or want much deeper knowledge of a study area.

A levels are often provided by schools with sixth form colleges, dedicated Sixth Form colleges and Further Education colleges. There is a wide range of subjects for students to choose from – depending on what their school or college offers.

There are also one year AS level qualifications in most subjects for which there are A levels. The AS is a standalone qualification and marks do not count towards the final A level grade.

T Levels

Our ground-breaking new qualifications, T Levels which are broadly equivalent in size to three A Levels are proving hugely popular.

They combine study in a learning environment with a substantial industry placement so that students gain the skills and experience they need to progress into work, an apprenticeship or higher study.

Students spend 80% of their time in the classroom and 20% on a minimum 9-week placement with an employer.

There are 10 subjects available now in England, including digital, science, construction, and health.

More subjects are coming in September 2022 and others will be introduced over the next few years.

To explore more on your choices when you reach 16/17 check out the Get the Jump pages on the National Careers Service website: Get the Jump: explore your education and training choices | National Careers Service.

Or why not chat to a Careers Adviser who may be able to help with any questions on future pathways: Contact us | National Careers Service.


Apprenticeships are a brilliant option for people of all ages to launch their careers in a huge range of exciting industries or upskill at various levels.

There are thousands of apprenticeship vacancies on offer, with more than 640 high-quality apprenticeships approved for use by employers – meaning someone could pursue a career in anything from space engineering to advertising.

We have also just launched Career Starter Apprenticeships which are a great opportunity for those with limited work experience.

With an apprenticeship, students can earn while they learn, and they include high quality training.

For those who are considering an apprenticeship, check out Five reasons why you should consider an apprenticeship - The Education Hub (

Higher Education

Some students may go to university or into another type of higher education earlier than 18 years old.

Students can often study flexibly at their own pace by learning online or part-time. Courses are usually taught in universities, colleges or specialist institutions like art schools.

There are many different types of higher education qualifications, including: diplomas; Bachelor’s degrees; foundation degrees and foundation years and degree level apprenticeships.

Our Higher education | National Careers Service section on our Get the jump campaign provides all you need to know on post-16 higher education options.

Level 3 VTQs

Vocational technical qualifications (VTQs) are practical qualifications designed with the workplace in mind.

They're designed to help students get the skills they need to start their career or go on to higher levels of education.

VTQs are available in a range of subject areas and course sizes, ranging from equivalent to an A/S level up to equivalent to 3 A levels.


Please note, the traineeship programme has now ended.

Traineeships are courses for 16-to-19-year-olds that last from 6 weeks up to 1 year. They include a work placement that help young people prepare for an apprenticeship or a job.

A traineeship provides students with work experience, help with next steps and support to improve maths and English skills.

Students will spend at least 70 hours in a work placement with the rest of the time in college or at a training centre.

Visit Find a traineeship - GOV.UK ( for more information.

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