Your options

This section looks at the different sorts of courses you can choose from.


An apprenticeship is a job with training.  Entry requirements vary, you may need some GCSEs and to pass a test for some opportunities.

Apprenticeships give you the chance to develop skills and gain nationally recognised qualifications, usually NVQ level 2 or 3, key skills and Functional Skills.

Assessment is a mixture of on and off the job training with some further exams and tests.  Your Personal Adviser will have details about vacancies for apprentices. There is also a national apprenticeship vacancy website.


Allow you to qualify for a particular job or jobs. They cover different occupations, such as caring, business administration, catering, tourism, hairdressing, sport, motor vehicle work, building trades, engineering, IT – and lots more. Often these are taken part time, alongside a job through apprenticeships.

A Levels (AS and A2)

Are available in lots of different subjects and can be a gateway either to employment or to higher education.


Diplomas are available in 13 vocational subjects including Business, Construction, Creative and Media, Engineering, Hospitality and IT. A Diploma can be studied at 3 levels: Foundation and Higher which can be taken from Years 10 and 11 and Advanced, which can be taken in sixth form or college.

Study of a Diploma includes a mixture of theory and practical experience as well as Maths, English and IT skills relevant to the subject. Not all Diploma subjects are available in all school/colleges – check with your Personal Adviser if you are unsure.

GCSEs and vocational GCSEs

Can also be studied after Year 11, usually combined with other courses.

These courses help you to learn to do a particular job or jobs.  They cover a wide range of occupational areas, such as caring, business studies, catering, tourism, hairdressing, sport, motor vehicle work, art and design, building trades – and dozens more.  Many vocational courses lead to NVQs.  Many of these also are done on a part-time basis when you're in relevant work or on an apprenticeship.

Work related courses

These help you to develop skills and knowledge of a broad vocational area such as art and design, business, leisure, tourism, health and social care.  There are courses to suit all abilities. You can study for qualifications such as BTECs, First Awards, BTEC Nationals, OCR Nationals, Diplomas and A Levels in applied subjects.

General courses

AS and A Levels are available in subjects you are used to from school (eg English, History, Maths) and in subjects you may not have studied before (eg Psychology, Law, Economics).  Students on these courses usually go onto higher education.  Some may go into work.

Where to find more information 

Underline image