Your choices after 16

There are three main choices after year 11: continue to study full time, get an apprenticeship or traineeship, or 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 or further education college, or another college. See a list of sixth forms and sixth form colleges

What qualifications you can get

  • A levels and other subject-based qualifications like international baccalaureate, especially if you’d like to go to university
  • work-related courses like NVQs and BTECs, if you want to gain skills in practical areas

What qualifications you need

You normally need

  • at least five GSCEs at grades A* to C (or an equivalent) and
  • Bs in the subjects you want to study.

If you haven’t got qualifications

You can do foundation learning to gain the knowledge and skills to start GCSEs or BTECs or go into apprenticeships or work. See a list of places where you can get foundation learning

Get an apprenticeship or start a traineeship


An apprenticeship means you work, get paid a wage and are trained at the same time. 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) and higher level (Foundation Degree equivalent).

Find out more about apprenticeships on the website.


If you can’t get a job, a traineeship can help you get skills and experience.

A traineeship is a training course that includes work experience, and it puts you in a better position to get an apprenticeship or job.

You won’t get paid a wage on a traineeship.

Find out more about how to get a traineeship on the website.

Work or volunteer while studying part-time

You can take a wide range of part-time training courses at colleges and training providers, including A levels, BTECs and NVQs.

While you’re doing a course you can volunteer part-time with a charity or on a project, or get work experience in an area of work you’re interested in.