Options after Year 12

At the end of Year 12 you need to start thinking about the career path you want to take. You should find out what qualifications are required if you have a particular career in mind. You can carry on learning, get a job or do a training course or apprenticeship.

Staying on at school

You may decide to move on to sixth form at your current school or go to another school. It’s worth taking some time to think about this before making your final decision.  Consider the following:

  • are you good at studying?
  • do you enjoy studying?
  • have your results been good enough for further study?
  • do you need to study further for the type of job you want to do?
  • do you understand the volume or difficulty of work you will expected to do?

The atmosphere in sixth form may be more relaxed but it will still be structured. You will have free periods but may still be expected to go to school for the full day. You’ll be given more responsibility though and will be expected to get on with homework or do further study in your free time, without a teacher checking up on you.

Many sixth forms offer a range of academic and vocational Level 3 subjects (A-levels for example). They may also give you the chance to re-sit your GCSE’s or sit Level 2 qualifications.

Area Learning Communities

Many schools are now involved in Area Learning Communities which are a partnership of schools in an area which then work together to provide a greater choice of subjects. You could be attending more than one school in your area to make sure you have access to the subjects you want to study.

It is always a good idea to think ahead as some courses and/or jobs require you to study specific subjects. After Year 14, you could use your qualifications to enter further or higher education, training or employment.

When choosing your subjects for A Levels and you're not sure what jobs they may lead to, you could go to the Subject Links section of the Career A-Z which contains information on A Level subjects and what careers they can be useful for.

Further education

Further Education (FE) colleges are for students aged 16 and over and offer a range of courses. These include academic, vocational or a mixture of both and can be full-time or part-time. There are different levels of course available to suit individual ability and learning support for those with learning needs.

Further Education can give you more time in education or help you into employment or further study at University.

The environment of a further education college is likely to be very different from that of school. It will probably be more laid back and you’ll be able to wear your own clothes. You’ll still be expected to stick to a timetable and go to lessons, but you might not have to stay in college during your free periods. You’ll be given a lot of independence and expected to manage your own time. Think about whether this way of working would suit you. 


An apprenticeship is a real job with training so you can earn while you learn and gain recognised qualifications. Your employer provides your on-the-job training and pays your wages. You will work alongside experienced staff to learn and develop your skills.

Your off-the-job training will usually be on a day-release basis with a training provider. This can be a college, training organisation or university. 

Training for Success

Training for Success provides you with the knowledge and skills you need to get a job or move onto the next level of training. The training is designed around you – your level, your interests and your goals. You will also get an Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).


Going straight into a job can be very tempting, as this offers the chance to earn some 'real money'. But what might seem like a good wage now may not be quite as good in a few years' time.

Remember that skills, experience and qualifications are important in this very competitive job market. Job vacancies can be found in newspapers or online:

When you turn 16, you should receive your National Insurance Number. Keep this safe as you will need it when you start a job. If you lose this or for some reason do not receive one, contact your nearest Jobs and Benefits office.

Help with your decisions

Talking to a careers adviser may help you focus on what you are looking for and help you to work out how to get where you want to be. 

Choices after GCSEs

The following videos explains your choices in full or part-time education and training after you get your GCSE results:

More useful links

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