What awaits your students post-16?

By Stephen Burrowes posted 19-10-2021 10:46


Are you aware of the current offer when your students complete their GCSEs and move on to the next stage? In addition to flagging up potential carriers, are you in a position to include appropriate post 16 qualification information in your lessons?

If a student is 16 by the end of the summer holidays they have the following options

  • full-time education at a school, sixth form college or further education college
  • apprenticeship or traineeship
  • spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering while also doing part-time education or training


A Levels

These are 2 year courses, keep options open and lead to University or college courses, higher and degree apprenticeships and work. The entry requirements are typically 5 GCSEs Grade 9-4, usually including English and maths.

T Levels

These are 2 year courses, have a focus on a particular career area such as healthcare science or digital and there is a very significant 45 day industry workplace placement. They have been designed in partnership with employers and are equivalent to 3 A Levels. They lead to work, higher and degree apprenticeships, college and university courses. The entry requirements are course dependent.

T levels are the new kids on the block and are being rolled out in a phased programme which started in September 2020. From September 2024, the full set of 24 T levels will be available to be delivered by all providers delivering 16 to 19 study programmes. Information about the background, consultations and roll out are available on the links below.

Review of post-16 qualifications at level 3 in England: Second Stage Summary document – what does this mean for me? 23/10/20

Review of vocational education: the Wolf report (2011)

Report of the Independent Panel on Technical Education (the ‘Sainsbury Review’) 2016

Review of post-16 qualifications at level 3 in England Government consultation response July 2021

What you need to know from the government’s response to the level 3 qualification review 14/7/21

Clearer choice of high-quality post-16 qualifications - Sector Reaction 14/7/21

Applied qualifications

These are level 3 and offer a broad overview of working in a specific sector such as engineering, science and technology. Classroom-based learning is combined with practical skill development. Entry requirements are course dependent. They lead on to university/college, apprenticeship or work.

Technical and vocational qualifications take one or more years and are Level 1+. They cover practical skills and knowledge for a particular area of employment and an element of work experience is included in the course. The entry requirements are course dependent. They lead on to apprenticeship, work, college or university.


These courses offer work placement, maths and English skill development. A minimum of 70 hours is spent in a work placement with the rest of the time in college or a training centre. They last from 6 weeks to 1 year. The entry requirements are that the student needs to be aged between 16 to 24 or up to 25 with an Education Health and Care Plan and with no higher than a level 3 qualification They lead to apprenticeship, further education or work.

Supported internships

Supported internships are for young people with learning difficulties or learning disabilities, who need extra support to get a job. Most of the time is spent on placements with an employer, learning skills for work. In college or from a specialist provider there is also get help from a tutor and a job coach. They last for a minimum of 6 months. The young person should be aged 16-24 with an Education Health and Care Plan. GCSE English and maths are needed and they lead on to work, traineeship or apprenticeship



Intermediate, advanced higher and degree apprenticeships combine practical on-the-job skills training with off-the-job learning. You'll get training that is relevant to your job and be paid a salary. S 80% of the time is spent in the workplace and 20% off-the-job with some study in a college, training centre or Institute of Technology (IoT). They last a minimum of 1 year and entry requirements are industry dependent. This leads qualifications such as an apprenticeship certificate, diploma, degree and masters depending on level. They lead to work, next level of apprenticeship, further education or higher education

School leaver schemes

These offer a chance to learn and train with a large company while earning a wage. They are similar to graduate employment schemes and run over a longer period of time, typically from 3-7 years. In addition to work experience they can include distance learning or time in college or university. The entry requirements are usually high grade A levels or equivalent and a keen interest in the sector. They lead to a university degree and/or professional qualification.