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You need to follow a programme of full or part-time education until you are 18.

Discover your options

When you turn 16 you can choose to study:

  • A levels
  • BTEC or other vocational courses
  • a combination of vocational and academic courses
  • a foundation pathway, for students not taking a substantial level 2 or 3 qualification.

You must also study English and maths to GCSE grades 9 to 4, if you haven't already.

Study pathways

Choose the option that matches your qualifications to find your study pathway.

  • You can do entry level qualifications or level 1 qualification plus continue to study English and maths.

    You could then move on to a level 2 course, a traineeship, a pre-apprenticeship or employment.

  • You can do level 1 qualifications plus continue to study English and maths or you can do a traineeship. This can lead to level 2 qualifications or employment, including level 2 apprenticeship.

    You could then progress to a level 3 course, a traineeship, an intermediate apprenticeship or employment.

  • You can do level 2 BTEC diploma or certificate plus continue to study English and maths where appropriate, or you can do a traineeship.

    BTECS and other vocational qualifications involve a number of units around a core subject. Units are assessed through presentations, coursework and online assessments. BTECS are available at Level 1, 2 and 3. The qualification you get depends on how many units you do - for example, the Level 3 Extended Diploma is equivalent to 3 A levels.

    Next steps could include a level 3 course, an advanced apprenticeship or employment.

  • You can do a level 3 BTEC qualification plus continue to study English and maths where appropriate, or you can do an apprenticeship.

    BTECS and other vocational qualifications involve a number of units around a core subject. Units are assessed through presentations, coursework and online assessments. BTECS are available at Level 1, 2 and 3. The qualification you get depends on how many units you do - for example, the Level 3 Extended Diploma is equivalent to 3 A levels.

    Next, you could progress to university, a higher apprenticeship or employment, with opportunities for professional qualifications.

  • You can do an A level plus BTEC mix (for example 2 A levels and diploma or subsidiary diploma), or you can do an advanced apprenticeship.

    BTECS and other vocational qualifications involve a number of units around a core subject. Units are assessed through presentations, coursework and online assessments. BTECS are available at Level 1, 2 and 3. The qualification you get depends on how many units you do - for example, the Level 3 Extended Diploma is equivalent to 3 A levels.

    You could then move on to university, a higher apprenticeship or employment, with opportunities for professional qualifications.

  • You can do an International Baccalaureate (IB), up to four A levels, an extended diploma or an advanced apprenticeship. A level and IB courses generally take two years to complete.

    This can lead to higher education or employment, with opportunities for professional qualifications, or advanced or higher level apprenticeship.

Find a course

You can usually apply for sixth form from June of the year before you're due to start. Before you apply, read about the admissions process.

Contact your chosen post 16 centre to apply for the course you're interested in.

Search courses

Planning for university

You need specific results and grades to apply to some university courses.

If you want to attend a Russell Group university, you'll need A level passes at grades of AAB or better, or applied or vocational courses at Distinction.

Read guidance from TheUniGuide for more information.