6th Form vs College vs Apprenticeship – Post 16 Options

Post 16 options

How different is it to be back in a classroom, rather than doing lessons virtually? With so many other activities now happening again, from sport to drama to music, life might be feeling a bit ‘full on’ again. Or as someone described it to me recently, ‘it feels like the fast forward button’s been pressed on life’. Whilst everyone is adjusting to the current ‘normal’ and hopefully making the most of it, for those in year 11 there are important decisions to be made for next September. Many students will know for definite what they want to do at 6th form or college (or an apprenticeship) and may have known for some time – often these are the aspiring doctors, vets and marine biologists! And many students will have already had a careers conversation with a careers adviser or discussed their options with their tutor. This blog will aim to summarise the options out there and give some top tips and things to look out for.

Did you know that year 11’s now need to stay in education or training until their 18th birthday? The reason for this was that evidence shows that being better educated and qualified usually increases earning potential and access to better quality work! But this doesn’t mean you have to stay in your school 6th form, it can mean going to college, doing an apprenticeship or volunteering alongside some further study.

As a starting point, 6th Form vs College vs Apprenticeship, let’s look at the main options;

Staying in your school’s 6th form

The pros for this is that staff and you know each other. You know the school routines and what’s on offer academically may fit your longer term ambitions. The cons might be that staying may feel ‘stale’ somehow and less exciting than a new challenge would give you. Also, other schools or colleges might offer a slightly different range of subjects or qualifications, like the IB or Pre U, which might suit you better.

Going to a new 6th form

If you’ve got ‘itchy feet’, going to a new 6th form can often be seen as a good move. You are still in a school environment, with the high expectations that come with this. It will also give you a chance to cope with change, build new friendships and possibly pick up a new A level subject or do the IB. There may be specific reasons why a change of school would really suit you, for instance sporting or musical related.

Going to college/6th form college

A college will offer a much wider variety of qualifications, including BTEC’s or T levels. These will be more vocationally based, so if you are interested in areas like engineering, health and social care or art and design, amongst others, you could do a qualification that’s worth 3 A levels purely in one subject. Colleges will mainly be full of 16-19 year olds, with no uniform, so will have a very different atmosphere to a school. Expectations around achieving good grades will be there too!

Doing an apprenticeship

Apprenticeships can be done at various stages, after year 11 or 13 and even after a degree. They are basically a job with training attached. It’s not just building trades that take on apprentices – some of the employers that take on the most apprentices include the military and the NHS! You can even get a degree through an apprenticeship, in loads of areas. Want to see the sorts of opportunities there are? Take a look at https://amazingapprenticeships.com/ and this UCAS information, https://www.ucas.com/understanding-apprenticeships .

Decisions, decisions, decisions

So, if you haven’t decided what you want to do after year 11 yet, it is worth giving this some thought. No pressure, but there are deadlines – often in the half term after Christmas, when you need to get applications in. The good news here is that you can apply for a few options, to buy yourself time. This can include an ‘aspirational’ choice or two, for instance a more competitive 6th form, e.g. a grammar or more exclusive independent school. It is important to think through what the important factors for you are. For instance, location, subjects/qualifications on offer, what else the school or college offers in terms of EPQ, sport or volunteering opportunities. If you know what you want to do longer term, you can also check out the apprenticeship opportunities, knowing that you have got an educational option or two lined up as fall back options.

There are so many opportunities out there, it is most definitely worth exploring what you could do. Even if it ends up that staying put where you are now is the best option. MFC can help with all this, why not take a look at https://www.myfuturechoice.com/ ?  And once you’ve started to ponder the possibilities, talk to a careers adviser or your tutor about what you are thinking – they will help you plan it all out, this might involve them asking lots of questions to help you decide!

Here at My Uni Choices we specialise in helping students, parents & educators make the best choices. Review all the Universities & Courses here or discover more About Us & the best uni courses for you, finally if you’re ready let’s take The Test to find out what course or degree you should do.


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