Full-time study at a school sixth form or college
There are courses to suit all interests and students of all abilities
Courses and qualifications include:
- A levels are level 3 academic qualifications that usually take two years to complete and are assessed by exams. At least five GCSEs at grades 9-4, including English and maths, are needed to study them. To study some subjects, you need GCSEs at grades 9-6. Usually, you choose to study three subjects at A level. You may be able to study four subjects if you do well in your GCSEs. It is also possible to take an A level alongside a BTEC qualification at some colleges or sixth forms. There are lots of different subjects available as A levels - but not all of them will be offered by all schools and colleges. Some subjects require prior knowledge gained through studying a specific subject at GCSE level. Other subjects may be new to you.
- T levels are new technical study programmes and level 3 qualifications, equivalent to three A levels, take two years to study and involve studying one subject. T levels have been developed with the help of employers - so they are a good choice if you know the type of job you want to do because they are aimed at teaching you the skills and knowledge needed to work in a specific industry. T levels involve learning in the classroom and completing a 45 day industry placement. Although T levels are intended to prepare you for work, they are also accepted by universities and colleges if you want to progress into higher education. To see which T levels are available where you live, look at www.tlevels.gov.uk/students.
- Vocational (work-related courses). These cover broad career areas, such as ICT, music, art and design, construction, performing arts or business administration and more. These are good if you want to specialise in one subject but can also be combined with other qualifications at some schools and colleges. There are courses and qualifications to suit all ability levels. Qualifications include BTEC, Cambridge Technical Certificates/Diplomas, City and Guilds, NCFE CACHE and WJEC
- Occupationally specific courses. These will give you the skills needed for a specific job such as hairdressing, nursery nursing, business administration, beauty therapy, IT or catering. There are courses and qualifications to suit all abilities.
Check out all the qualifications
(levels 2 and 3) you can do between 16 and 18.
Where to go?
You need to find out which school or college offers the subjects and qualifications you want to do. You can go to the websites for local school sixth forms and colleges:
- Central Foundation Boys' School
- City & Islington College (Candi)
- Highbury Grove Sixth Form
- Highbury Fields Sixth Form
- London Screen Academy, Islington - free school offering University of the Arts London (UAL) Creative Diploma and A levels to 1,000 students 16+ from across London.
- New City College Hackney Campus
- SoundSkool Music Industry College - offering music courses with pathways in music performance, music production and music business
- St Aloysius' College
- St Mary Magdalene Academy
- Westminster Kingsway College
Also check individual websites for open days
For other colleges across London go to the online London Colleges Directory.
Also find out about University Technical Colleges for students aged 14 to 19. They teach technical, creative and scientific subjects. There are a number of UTCs in London, specialising in, for example specialist engineering - aviation, building, design, health, product, transport; medical services; broadcast and media, creative, technical and digital - see external links.
If you are thinking about university, the website Informed Choices offers advice about A level choices - see the External links on this page.
Applying to colleges and sixth forms
All schools and colleges have open evenings or events for future students. These give you a chance to see what it is really like and talk to tutors and teachers, so it is worth going along.
At the open evening, check out course details and the qualifications you will need. Ask how to apply and when applications have to be sent. You need to send a well written application – and remember popular courses at colleges often have early application deadlines.