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BLOG: After School Options

Students in England must stay in some kind of education until the age of 18. If you’re leaving school in the foreseeable future, make sure you’ve researched all your available options!

According to the UK Government website, you must do one of the following until you’re 18:

  • stay in full-time education, for example at a college
  • start an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training


If you’re interested in earning and learning at the same time, an apprenticeship could be for you. Apprenticeships offer you the opportunity to gain the skills, experience and qualifications necessary to succeed in your chosen career. Apprenticeships are now offered in a variety of different careers from Veterinary Nursing to Marketing to Accounting.  

Apprenticeships last typically between 1 and 4 years and come in 3 different levels: Intermediate, Advanced and Higher. Intermediate apprenticeships are equivalent to 5 GCSEs and work towards achieving a NVQ Level 2. Advanced apprenticeships are equivalent to 2 A Levels and work towards achieving a NVQ Level 3. Higher apprenticeships work towards a NVQ Level 4 and in some cases a Foundation degree. 

To search and apply for apprenticeships visit https://www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship.


A traineeship is a mixture of education and training, aiming to give essential work experience that prepares you for your future and helping you become work ready. Traineeships typically last from 6 weeks to 6 months and provide work preparation training, English and Maths skills and work experience, all of which will help towards getting an apprenticeship or a job.

If you’re unsure of what you’d like to do in the future or don’t feel ready for an apprenticeship or college, a traineeship is a great way to try out different careers and gain some relevant skills.

To search and apply for traineeships visit https://www.gov.uk/find-traineeship.

A Levels

Some university degrees and jobs require A Levels in a certain subject. Depending on what you’d like to do in the future, A Levels may be for you. When choosing your A Levels, it is always a good idea to think about subjects that you enjoy and are good at, as higher grades will give you more options afterwards. You should also consider what subjects work well together such as maths and physics, biology and PE or biology and psychology.

If you’re unsure about your future, try and keep your options open by choosing broad subjects that give you a range of skills. For example, history will give you research and essay writing skills; RE will teach you to think through abstract problems; computer science, maths and languages will give you practical skills.

Find details of university courses at www.ucas.com and get careers information from the Job Profiles on the National Careers Service website - https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk

Vocational Courses

Sixth Form and college aren’t just for A Levels. Most colleges and Sixth Forms offer vocational courses as well in a range of areas such as Hairdressing, Hospitality, IT and Business. Vocational courses are designed to help you learn through practical exercises about a specific job area.

Instead of studying the subject like with A Levels, vocational courses are a mix of practical learning and studying. They give you the skills you need to start a job, progress in a career or get into higher education. Vocational courses can progress onto university the same way A Levels can.

To search for vocational courses, visit your local or chosen college’s or sixth form’s website and see what they have on offer.