What to study

There are many different options available to you and you need to make sure you are doing the right one. An option that works for your friend might not be the right choice for you.

A-levels tend to focus on academic subjects and are one of the main routes to university. Courses usually take two years and you sit your exams at the end of the course. You can find more information on A-Levels here.

Vocational qualifications are more practical and provide you with the knowledge and skills needed for certain jobs and types of work. You can study T-Levels (Tech Levels) which are linked to careers such as engineering, computing and hospitality or Applied General qualifications which have a broader focus, such as applied science, business or sport. You can find more information on Vocational Qualifications here.

Getting back on track

Don’t worry if your GCSEs didn’t go well. Colleges offer the opportunity to sit retakes and study for new GCSEs or other qualifications. And you may find that life at college, rather than in school, is the change you need to bring a focus to your studies.

Financial support

Details of help with childcare, support with learning costs such as transport, bursaries for students in financial hardship, and dance and drama awards are available on GOV.UK.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

If you’ve had enough of the classroom full-time, and want to learn a new profession, trade or skill, then this could be the route for you. Apprenticeships are real jobs with training so you can earn while you learn and pick up qualifications as you go. Schemes take between one and four years to complete and run on three different levels, so you can choose a level that suits you. See What is an apprenticeship and where can it lead? for more details. Do remember though that you need to find the apprenticeship provider yourself.

Traineeships help prepare you for work and last up to six months. They offer maths and English training together with work experience to boost your skills and put you in a better position to get an apprenticeship or job. You can find a traineeship on GOV.UK.

Not Going to Uni has more information and vacancy details for apprenticeships and work-based training. AllAboutSchoolLeavers has advice on school leaver options and job listings.

Getting advice

Speak to your any of your teachers at school. We may have links with local colleges and training providers or know how past students have got on. Parents, carers, friends and relatives may also be able to provide ideas and guidance. If you want to speak to a careers advisor for help ask your school or visit the National Careers Service.