Post 16 options

There are many options available to young people when they reach the end of year 11 and it can be a very daunting time for them. We suggest looking at all the options as soon as you can, most settings will start having open days and events around October and November.

All children and young people in care should be given independent and impartial careers advice from year 9 on the full range of post 16 options.

Young people and their parents or carers must think about progression and where their course or training might lead to. It is worth asking schools or colleges what the next step is if the young person succeeds on the level of course or training that they have applied for.

Due to the introduction of “Raising the Participation Age” all young people in England must continue in education or training until they are 18.

It does not mean young people must stay in school; they can choose one of the following options:

  • full-time education, which might include a school sixth form, college or learning provider
  • work-based learning, such as an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • part-time education or training if they are employed, self-employed or volunteering for 20 hours or more a week

Why have these changes taken place?

Young people deserve the best opportunities to achieve their potential; it has been proven that remaining in education or training for longer:

  • helps develop the skills needed for adult life
  • encourages achievement of full potential
  • raises aspirations and expectations
  • reduces the likelihood of unemployment
  • increases income earning potential
  • encourages positive attitudes towards lifelong learning


Apprenticeships combine practical training in a job with study.

As an apprentice young people will:

  • work alongside experienced staff
  • gain job-specific skills
  • study towards a related qualification (usually one day a week)
  • earn a wage and get holiday pay

Apprenticeships take 1 to 4 years to complete depending on their level.

Who can apply?

Young people can apply for an apprenticeship while still at school. To start one, young people will need to be:

  • 16 or over
  • living in England
  • not in full-time education


A traineeship is an education and training programme with work experience that unlocks the great potential of young people and prepares them for their future careers by helping them to become ‘work ready’.

Designed to help young people aged 16 to 24 who don’t yet have the appropriate skills or experience, traineeships provide the essential work preparation training, English, maths, and work experience needed to secure an apprenticeship or employment.

Traineeships are an ideal opportunity for young people who are motivated to get a job but lack the skills and experience that employers are looking for.

Those who have been unsuccessful when applying for an apprenticeship or other job due to a lack of skills and experience would most likely be good candidates for a traineeship.


College is classed as Further Education. College can open doors for you that school cannot.

Unlock Opportunities

Thanks to all the knowledge, skills and experience they’ll gain in college, young people will be able to adapt to a greater variety of jobs and careers. It is proven that people who qualify from college are better equipped to:

  • get a job
  • earn more money
  • become more independent

During a young person’s time at college, they will:

  • explore subjects in greater depth than they did in school
  • choose their own courses following the direction of their chosen career
  • decide which extracurricular activities they will focus on — and how much time they give them

Although college requires young people to be a lot more independent than school they are not entirely on their own: colleges offer students many kinds of help in making this transition, such as tutoring and academic advising as well as counselling and other support.

Staying on at school and attending sixth form

All over the country there are schools with their own sixth forms offering courses which are designed to follow on from GCSEs.

Most sixth forms will have a small range of courses available, unlike an FE college, which will have a much wider choice of subjects and levels.

A sixth form learning environment is often a lot like school with a uniform policy and calling teachers ‘Mr’ and ‘Miss’. However there will still be some emphasis put on independence and maturity.

A sixth form timetable will normally follow that of a school with independent study sessions put in throughout the week.


Due to the “Raising the Participation Age” it is understood that all under 18s will stay in some form of education or training until they reach this age.

Once they are 18 they are able to gain employment full time without the need of training or education if they would like to.

There is help available at job centres. Personal Advisor from The Leaving Care Team, young people services and libraries also offer assistance to support applying and searching for jobs.

Colleges and schools also have career advisors who you can discuss your options with and help figure out a pathway.

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