Your choices after 16

Your choices after 16

What options you have for education or training after year 11, what qualifications you can get

There are three main choices after year 11:

  • continue to study full time
  • get an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • work or volunteer while studying part time

This education and training is free if you start before you turn 18.

Study full time

Where to study

You can stay at your current school or move to a sixth form at a different school, a sixth form college, a further education college or another college.

See a list of sixth forms and sixth form colleges.

What qualifications you can get

Subject based qualifications such as:

  • A levels: two year courses with some coursework or practical assessments followed by an exam
  • The international baccalaureate: a two year study programme that covers a range of subjects

You normally need:

  • at least five GSCEs at grades 4 to 9 (or an equivalent), and
  • strong GCSE grades in the subjects you want to study

Work related qualifications such as:

  • BTEC: one or two year courses that focus on a particular type of work or industry
  • T levels (from September 2020): two year courses that include an industry placement. Find out more about T levels on GOV.UK

Work or volunteer while studying part-time

You can study a part time course at a college or training provider, while volunteering or working, including being self-employed.

You'll need to work or volunteer for 20 hours a week or more while in part-time education or training.

Courses you can study part time include A levels, BTECs and NVQs.

Get an apprenticeship or start a traineeship

Apprenticeships

An apprenticeship means you work, get paid a wage and are trained at the same time. You can gain a qualification as part of your apprenticeship.

There are apprenticeships in many different kinds of work, from engineering and agriculture to media and tourism.

You can do apprenticeships at:

  • intermediate level (GCSE equivalent)
  • advanced level (A level equivalent) 
  • higher level (foundation degree equivalent)
  • degree level (bachelor's or master's degree equivalent)

Find out more about apprenticeships on GOV.UK.

Traineeships

A traineeship is a training course that includes work experience and can help you get the skills and experience you need to do an apprenticeship. It lasts up to 6 months.

Find out more about traineeships on GOV.UK.

Volunteer

If you're not in employment, education or training (NEET) you can get work experience and learn new skills through volunteering. Find out more about volunteering on GOV.UK.

Get help understanding your options