Why study after 16
With more qualifications you will have more choice about what job you want to do, so you’re more likely to find a job you enjoy rather than get stuck in a rut doing unskilled work. Also, research shows that better qualifications can give you a chance to earn more money - and make you happier!
Gaining good qualifications will help you
- Move on to your next stage of learning.
- Broaden your career choices.
- Get a better-paid and more interesting job in the long term.
- Be more in control of your life.
- Become interested in learning new things throughout your life.
Good to know...
Many employers welcome people with the higher-level skills that higher education qualifications develop, irrespective of the subject studied. So, the A-Level / Applied Vocational Qualification route to university can be a good way to carry on learning and developing higher-level skills, even if you are not absolutely sure what job or career you want to do in the future
Some careers require a specific degree such as medicine or architecture so you will need to have the right qualifications to gain entry to that degree course. More importantly, many employers now will favor candidates who have studied beyond GCSE level.
All pathways at 16 offer opportunities for higher education study and training at 18. If your thinking about going on to higher education – for example doing a university degree – most courses require specific A levels at particular grades. (Universities will also often accept other qualifications, such as BTECs.)
If they are not sure what to do next, A levels are a good way of gaining widely recognised qualifications while you explore your options.
Where can I study at 16?
Sixth form or College?
Sixth forms and further education colleges tend to have different cultures and teaching approaches.
- At a school sixth form students may still have to wear uniform, attend assemblies and work to a structured timetable.
- Further education colleges tend to be less formal and expect students to take more responsibility for their learning.
- Sixth form colleges (not attached to a school) are often a middle ground between the two.
You need to think about what suits you and your learning style. Do you like the idea of staying in a familiar and more structured setting, with teachers and classmates you know, or do you feel ready for a bit more independence – and if so, have you got the self-discipline and maturity to thrive in a college environment?
Researching study options
You might decide to continue your education in the sixth form of your current school. However, if you want to explore alternatives, looking at school and college websites and sending off for prospectuses will help you get a picture of the courses available and the culture and approach of different institutions. However, the best way to get a feel for whether a school or college is right for you is to see it for yourselves at an open event.
Click here to see what Post-16 Educational Institutions exist across Lincolnshire
These can take place in the evening or daytime, and schools/ colleges will advertise the dates on their websites. Some may offer more than one date. Ask your teacher/career lead or parent/carer to to help you with the research.
Good to know...
You can apply to more than one school or college and make a final decision when you get your GCSE results. But it’s a good idea to apply and receive offers as early as possible during Year 11 so you know what your options are. Sixth forms and college application deadlines vary. They are likely to fall somewhere between December and February for the next September intake, but it’s important to check with individual schools/colleges and make a note of the deadlines so that you and your parent/carer can apply in good time. Some sixth forms and colleges may invite prospective students for an interview
SUPPORTING YOUR CHILD MAKING THE MOST OF SIXTH FORM/COLLEGE OPEN EVENTS
It’s worth going along to open events as soon as you can during Year 11, as it will help your child to make up their mind about what to do next. Next September may seem a long way away, but the time will pass quickly during this busy year. Many schools and colleges hold open events in the autumn and spring terms for courses starting the following September.
DO SOME RESEARCH BEFOREHAND
Encourage your child to explore the school/college website or prospectus before the visit, and suggest they think about any questions they’d like to ask. Do the same yourself. As well as looking at the courses on offer, it’s also a good idea to consider practicalities such as how your child would get to the school/college, how long the journey would take every day and how much it would cost, as this will all contribute to their decision. If you are given a programme or guide when you arrive on the day, have a quick look through it together straight away to make sure you don’t miss anything.
The open event is likely to include activities such as talks, tours and ‘hands-on’ introductory practical sessions in different subject areas. Encourage your child to get involved so that they gain as much information as possible and get a feel for the place.
TALK TO STAFF AND STUDENTS
You’ll have the chance to ask staff any questions you have about the courses and facilities on offer. Encourage your child to talk directly to staff too. If they feel shy about approaching people, having some pre-prepared questions can help. Encourage them to talk to current students too. Even if the students aren’t doing the course your child is interested in, they can offer invaluable insights about school or college life and how it differs from pre-16 education.
Some schools/colleges offer taster sessions or workshops, often lasting for one or two hours, which give potential students the chance to experience a practical learning session, check out the facilities and talk to staff in more depth. These are usually free but places are likely to be limited. If your child is interested it’s worth booking a place as soon as possible.
Have a chat with your child about what they thought of the school/college and the options on offer. If they have made a decision, they should apply straight away. If they’re still not sure what to do, they can contact the college or sixth form direct to ask more questions, talk to a careers adviser or do some more research online.