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Are you leaving school this year? Or maybe you’ve already left and are thinking about what to do next. Since 2015, all young people in the UK must stay in education until the age of 18. It’s important to know all your options as you decide your next steps in life, so we’ve broken down the different paths you might take.

What to study - Subjects and Qualifications

Once you leave year 11, it is up to you what subjects you want to learn about. So, if there’s a particular career or area of study that you find interesting, you can look into it now.
The type of qualification you study will depend on the subject, but the most common are:


A-Levels and AS-Levels

These are usually academic subjects, such as sciences, maths and languages. You can choose to study up to 5 subjects at A-level, but most universities only require 3, so make sure you consider how the workloads and demands of the subjects will affect you and fit your needs.



A mix of theoretical learning with more hands-on sessions. BTEC qualifications are assessed through a series of coursework assignments and projects – a positive point for anyone who doesn’t do well in exams! There are over 2,000 subjects studied through BTECs, including Construction, Childcare, Art and Business Studies.



These are very practical qualifications which prove your ability to do a job. You can study an NVQ as part of a college course, at work or as part of an apprenticeship. NVQ’s are best suited to hands-on subjects, like hairdressing, plumbing, catering and teaching.


Where to study – Types of Provider


Sixth Form

Most secondary schools now have a Sixth Form offering post-16 qualifications. You don’t have to carry on at your current school, you are free to choose to apply to attend a new school for Sixth Form. You can also apply to multiple schools to give yourself more options once you get your GCSE results.



Colleges are separate to secondary schools and can offer a completely fresh learning experience. There are over 15 colleges in Nottinghamshire, so there’s plenty to explore and choose from if this is an option you’re interested in.



Through an apprenticeship, you work toward a qualification while working in a real job. You will spend some time with tutors and may need to go to college some of the time, but you will mostly spend time at work, either carrying out day-to-day responsibilities or completing written projects and assignments for your apprenticeship.


Nottingham is home to some great schools and colleges designed to support those with additional needs. You can find out more about those providers on the Ask Lion and Notts  Help Yourself websites.


More Information

There’s lots of information available online about your options when it comes to education, training and work. Both Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council’s Local Offers have dedicated sections with information about the providers, benefits and support available. Ask US advisers can also offer support and guidance, as well as helping both you and your parents through the transition between secondary school and the next stage.


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