Post 16 Choices Information-How to find your next step in education

After GCSEs there are three main pathways to choose from and making the decision between the different pathways needs careful thought. Don’t forget, you are entitled to free education until you are 19 (if you started the course at the beginning of year 13) so think carefully about the route you select.


A Levels are taught in schools, Sixth Form Colleges and some FE Colleges. You will normally select 3 A Level courses.  A Levels are an academic qualification and most schools/colleges will require you to gain a grade 6 at GCSE for the course you wish to study. You will also have to have passed your Maths and English at 4/5 or above. In some schools/colleges, you can combine A Levels with a BTEC qualification – for example, 2 A Levels and Level 3 BTEC.

Vocational Courses eg BTEC & IBCP

These are courses that are job-related and will be focused on a general area such as business or on a specific job such as hairdressing or engineering.  The most common vocational course is called a BTEC.  BTECs can be studied in some schools but most commonly in Sixth Form Colleges or FE Colleges. The BTEC is examined by coursework and exams but with a higher emphasis on coursework.  BTECs are offered at different levels depending on your GCSE results and they can be studied as a one or two-year course depending on your level and the school/college. You can study BTECs in conjunction with A’Levels. Higher Level BTEC courses will give you UCAS points and you can apply to university with a BTEC.

Here are at Etham Hill School we offer the IBCP which is a career-related programme designed by the International Baccalaureate (IB). The benefit of this course is that it is tailored to students who wish to focus on career-related learning in the last two years of school. It combines academic rigour and employment-related competencies to provide the student with a range of vital skills and knowledge required for the modern workforce. To gain a place on the IBCP you will need 5 or more GCSE’s at grade 4 or above.


Earn while you learn with most of the training on the job with an employer but you will spend one day per week at a local college studying a qualification that relates to your apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are great for students who wish to ‘get on with work”. They can help you increase your confidence and work skills. They are normally 12 months long but this will depend on your employer.  There is no guarantee of employment once your apprenticeship has ended but many apprentices do gain employment.  There are different levels of apprenticeships but if you leave school at 16 you will probably take an Intermediate Apprenticeship which is the equivalent to 5 GCSE passes.  Please note that you can apply for an apprenticeship at any point after the end of year 11 so you might want to consider further study at school/college before you progress to an apprenticeship.

There are also opportunities for young people to work or volunteer for 20 hours a week as long as they are also working towards a qualification – check this out with your school or college.

The pathway you choose will be based on the following:

  • What GCSE grades you have achieved.
  • How you like to learn.
  • Where and what you would like to study later.
  • What job/career you would like in the future.Where is it best for me to study in Year 12 & 13?You have several options for post 16 study:1)    You can remain here at Eltham Hill School and study one of our many A Levels or IB BTEC courses.

    2)    You can opt for another school with Sixth Form provision.  You can select a school in a different borough and there are a range of specialist sixth forms if you have a particular interest such as drama or technology.

    3)    You can apply for a Sixth Form College – A Sixth Form College such as Christ the King or Shooters Hill College only takes students aged 16-19. You will be able to study A Levels, BTECs or functional skills courses.  Sixth Form Colleges don’t tend to wear uniforms and are often very large. They are often able to provide a wide range of courses over 1-2 years.

    4)    You can apply to an FE College – Further Education Colleges tend to offer mostly vocational courses – so courses that will help you learn about specific professions.  FE Colleges are open to students of all ages so you are likely to have older learners on your course too. FE Colleges are often good at finding students apprenticeships once they have finished their studies and often have good employer contacts to help you find work.

    To find out more about all the different choices you need to consider for your post 16 pathway please refer to the comprehensive notes:

    Here at Eltham Hill, we can offer you a wide range of post 16 qualifications which will enable you to progress into your chosen field.

    We will guide you through the decision-making process and provide you with all the information you need to make the best decision for you.