Once students have completed their A-Levels in Sixth Form, there are three main pathways open to them:
- Higher/Further Education – University/College
- Employment Training – Apprenticeship/School Leaver Programme
- GAP Year
Most students will decide to continue their education by applying to university (higher education) or college (further education), choosing courses stemming from their interests or for qualifications required for a particular career path. Students complete their applications through the UCAS system, where they enter their personal, academic and course details as well as their Personal Statement. The school also completes an academic reference for each student, outlining their suitability for higher or further education. For certain college courses (for example, Foundation Art) students need to apply to the individual institutions. Students also need to apply to Student Finance England by May of Year 13 to ensure they have sufficient funds for starting their courses the following September. In the following video, Cameron and Sheena explain their experiences of the process and offer some useful advice:
Employment with Training – Apprenticeships/School Leaver Programmes
Students can also apply for employment-based training. Many businesses now offer apprenticeships where apprentices are taken on as employees, earning a wage and working alongside experienced staff to gain job-specific skills. During this time, apprentices receive training to work towards nationally recognised qualifications, usually on a day-release basis at a local college or university. In some cases, employers will pay for apprentices to complete Foundation Degrees. Students can apply for apprenticeships by registering online with the National Apprenticeship Organisation. Well-known companies, such as BMW and the National Grid, give full details of their apprenticeships on their websites and many local companies also have openings which they advertise in the local press. Students can also take the initiative and approach employers with their CVs. In the following video, Maryam talks about applying for one of the prestigious BMW Higher Level Apprenticeships, for which she was successful soon after making this video:
The other option for applying for employment based training are companies’ ‘School Leavers Programmes’. For example, companies like KPMG, Deloitte, and Price Waterhouse Coopers are keen to recruit high achieving A-Level students straight from school to train in their companies and sponsor them through professional qualifications. Full details about these opportunities are available on individual company websites. It is, of course, possible for students to enter straight into employment, but with A-Level qualifications, students should really consider this option carefully and the career progression which is offered with the job.
Other students decide to take a GAP Year to give themselves an opportunity to develop their experiences before continuing their education or entering employment and to give themselves more time to consider their future. Most students carefully plan their GAP Year to make the most of it, completing a mixture of work experience, voluntary work, employment and foreign projects/travel to broaden their horizons. Some students complete ‘A Year in Industry’ to give them paid experience of the workplace before they return to their studies. To begin planning their GAP Years, students should consult NotGoingToUni and ICould. In the following video, Jordan talks about the plans for his GAP Year:
If you need further information or support with these pathways, please see Miss McIver, Miss Aldridge, Ms Coulter, Mrs Bridges or form tutors.