To get the most out of studying after the age of 16 (sometimes known as ‘further education’), it’s important to take time to choose the right courses and qualifications. Ask yourself:

  • what you are good at, and what you enjoy – most people do better when they study a subject they like
  • whether you want to learn something new – for many courses, you may not need any previous experience
  • what course structure will suit you – do you prefer end-of-year exams, continual assessment, or a mixture of both?
  • what learning style will suit you – do you prefer lectures, classroom discussions, or practical workshops?
  • where the course will lead – does it fit in with your long-term plans?

If you have decided that further education is for you there are a number of benefits in staying in education:

You’ll find a much wider range of subjects and qualifications than you’ve been able to choose from up until now.

As well as A levels, you can choose from a growing range of work-related qualifications.

Depending on what you want to study, you could decide to stay on at school, or go to a sixth form college or further education college, but what’s the difference?

Sixth Form
You may be able to study at your own school’s sixth form, the sixth form of another school, or at a sixth form college. They offer a wider range of options than you’ve probably had to date. 6th forms normally only offer Level 3 courses so all sixth forms have minimum entry requirements; it is not guaranteed that you can automatically transfer to your own school’s sixth form.  Sixth forms normally offer A Levels and BTEC Level 3 Diploma courses. Sixth forms vary a lot in size, and in the courses and facilities they offer. Sixth form colleges tend to be larger and more informal than school sixth forms.

Further Education (FE) College
FE colleges are generally larger than school sixth forms and include, work-based learning, and adult and community learning institutions. They provide post-16 courses similar to those taught at schools and sub-degree courses similar to those taught at higher education (HE) colleges. They provide a very wide range of post-16 courses including A Levels, BTEC Diplomas, NVQ’s and apprenticeships, as well as supported learning courses for students with additional learning needs.