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3. Post-16 qualifications

Welding competitorThe law now requires that all young people continue in some kind of education or training until the age of 18. So what are your child’s options after year 11? They can attend school or college and study A levels or one of a range of work-related qualifications. Alternatively they could do an Apprenticeship, or start a job or voluntary work with training.

School and college prospectuses set out details of the qualifications they offer. Have a look at these with your child so that you understand the entry requirements, the size of the qualification, how students will learn, and where the qualifications can lead. Full-time qualifications at school and college are classified as follows:-

Academic qualifications – allow young people to study more than one subject in depth. They include GCSEs and A levels and the International Baccalaureate. A levels are going through changes and as of September 2015, exams take place at the end of two years’ study. AS levels are still offered, but they are one year, stand-alone qualifications, rather than progressing to A2 as in the past.

Technical level qualifications – provide preparation for particular occupations, for example engineering, hospitality, computing or accountancy. They have been developed along with employers and are assessed and graded at distinction, merit or pass.

Applied general qualifications – offer the opportunity for applied learning within a broad vocational area such as sport, science or business rather than preparation for a single occupation.