Post 16 Education

Further Education colleges and sixth form colleges offer two main types of qualifications:

A levels

Like GCSEs an A level covers one subject in depth and is assessed through exams at the end of a two year course. Most people pick 3 subjects but others may only do 2, if they have to resit their Maths or English GCSE. They are offered in a variety of subjects e.g. English, Geography, Criminology. Different colleges offer a different range of subjects. It is important you do your research, to find the college who does the right mix of subjects for you.

Each college sets its own entry requirements but generally they are looking for a minimum of five “good” GCSE passes, usually at grade 4 or above. In addition some subjects might have their own requirement eg. a college may ask for a minimum of grade 6 in Maths for you to take A level Maths.

Vocational qualifications

If you choose a vocational qualification you study a variety of topics within one area of work such as engineering, catering or childcare. Vocational qualifications are usually more hands on than A levels, with a mix of both practical and theory. They are usually assessed through a mixture of coursework and assessments/exams.
There are vocational qualifications at different levels, with level 3 being equivalent to A levels.

Level 3 qualifications are equivalent to UCAS points and are accepted by universities- but if you have a specific degree/university in mind please check before deciding whether to take vocational qualifications or A levels.

Further information on UCAS points and the application process for university can be found on the UCAS website .


The Careers Guide- published by the Tees Valley Careers can offer further help. Link below: