FAQs post 16 options


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Below you will find answers to some questions you may have about post 16 options.

Does my child have to go to college after secondary school?

Under previous legislation it was compulsory for young people to remain in education until the age of 16. However, as a result of legislation introduced in September 2013, the law now requires that young people continue in education, employment or training until the age of 18. 

After secondary school, young people have the options to progress in to either:

  • Further Education – to study full time at either a college; this could include a Technical College, FE college, sixth-form college; a school sixth form or an accredited training programme.
  • Employment or volunteering with part time study or training
  • Apprenticeships, traineeship/ pre apprenticeship or supported internship.

What does RPA mean?

RPA stands for ‘Raising Participation Age’. The Education and Skills Act 2008 legislated to raise the age of compulsory participation in education or training to the end of the academic year from 2015.  The increased participation age will ensure that every young person can gain skills and qualifications that enable them to progress into higher education and training, sustained employment and adult life.

What options are available for my child if they leave school with low or no GCSE?

Even if your child gains low or no GCSE they have options available to them.

On results day your child should discuss their options with the school’s careers adviser or careers lead.  Who should be at hand to offer support and advice. 

Alternatively, they can attend local college enrolment events.  Which typically take place for several weeks after GCSE results day.  Talking to the college admissions and / course tutor about their current options will help your child see if the college has the right courses and support for them.

They can book a session with a member of the Targeted Prevention Team to discuss their options further.

Please note: It is very important that before GCSE results day, your child has applied to several further education and / training options.  These options may include FE colleges, sixth forms, apprenticeships.   In Year 11, students should have access to a career’s adviser and careers guidance resources.  It is advised, Year 11’s should be encouraged to apply to more than one option. 

What do the new GCSE numbers means?

The new GCSE ‘number scale’ grade started to be used in Summer 2017. 

In England, the new GCSE ‘number’ have a 9 to 1 grading scale. To give you an idea of how the new grades compare to the old grades.

Grade 9 is the highest grade and is higher than the old grade A*.

Grade 7 is aligned with the bottom of grade A;

Grade 4 is aligned with the bottom of grade C; and

Grade 1 is aligned with the bottom of grade G.

What are the different qualifications my child could progress into?

Depending on their most recent qualification, gained from either school or post 16 education. Below is a list of the most common qualifications available:

  • Functional skills English and Maths / GCSE
  • A Levels
  • BTEC
  • Technical qualifications
  • Apprenticeships
  • Supported internship
  • General vocation


My child has no idea what they want to do in the future who can they talk too?

If your child attends school, sixth form, FE and/ technical college or a training course.  They should be encouraged to speak to their dedicated education careers adviser; careers lead or subject teacher, in the first instance.  Each schools, should have access to independent and impartial Careers Advisers.  Who are qualified and experience to provide careers advice and guidance for post 13. 16 and 18 options.  They have a wealth of knowledge and resources. 

Page last reviewed: 20/02/2024

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