Options after Year 11

Once you finish your GCSEs you will move onto the next step in your career.  It’s important to pick something you will enjoy and do well at.  You have two options…


Continuing in full-time education at a sixth form or college, where you could study a wide range of subjects depending on your grades and interests

Things to consider…

  • Where do you want to study?  Sixth forms and colleges have different atmospheres and offer different courses.
  • What subjects are you interested in?  You need to be enthusiastic about what you’re doing.
  • Which qualifications will suit your learning style?  Consider your grades, skills and strengths.

It’s vital you match your options with your grades.  The higher your grades the more options you will have, but it’s most important that you pick a course/courses you can succeed at.

Looking at sixth form/college websites and going to open evenings will help you find out more.  You can also find out who offers which subjects in your area here.


Heading into the workplace with an apprenticeship, where you earn whilst you learn; doing a real job with training and qualifications alongside

Things to consider…

  • Where do you want to work?  You might have a specific type of employer in mind or wait and see what opportunities arise.
  • What would you like to do?  It’s important to find an apprenticeship you can be enthusiastic about.
  • Which skills would you like to use?  Think about what you’re good at and enjoy doing.

It’s vital that you have a back-up plan.  There is never a guarantee someone will get an apprenticeship, so you need to apply for college or sixth form as well.

You can also try getting work experience in order to find out more about different jobs.  Read more about apprenticeships here.

Understanding qualifications

You will be taking some sort of qualifications until at least the age of 18, but there are a lot of different types of qualification on offer.

At 6th form or college you might be able to do A Levels or Full-time courses:

About A Levels

  • Lots of theory and classroom learning
  • Mostly exams, some coursework in certain subjects
  • Study a variety of subjects (normally 3)
  • Normally need grade 5 or above
  • Can sometimes be combined with single BTEC/CTEC courses at some
    sixth forms/colleges

About Full-time Courses

  • Might be called BTECs, CTECs, NVQs, City & Guilds etc.
  • Applies learning to industry; practical and theory content
  • Mostly coursework, some exams in certain subjects
  • Normally studied on its own (only 1 subject)
  • The grades you need depend on the qualification level

As an apprentice you will be doing vocational qualifications:

  • Might be called NVQs, City & Guilds etc.
  • Trains you for a particular job; practical learning
  • Coursework, with some tests
  • Full-time (you only study one subject)
  • The grades you need depend on the type of apprenticeship

General questions to consider

  • How do learn best?
  • What assessment style suits me best?
  • What am I really interested in?
  • What am I good at?
  • How far am I willing to travel?
  • What facilities are important to me?
  • What do I hope for in my future?
  • How do I move towards what I want?

Future thinking

Whilst it’s not vital you have a future job all mapped out, it is worth considering where these different routes could take you.  If you do have ideas for the future, be sure to research them carefully so you make sensible choices for your life after Year 11.

Research your job ideas on these websites:

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