Post 16 Options

Young people must stay in some type of education or training until they are 18. There are many options available when young people turn 16, and they should look at what option best suits them, their situation, strengths and interests.

Further Education College

Further education (abbreviated to FE) includes any study after secondary education that’s not part of higher education (that is, not taken as part of an undergraduate or graduate degree).

FE colleges offer a much wider range of courses than at sixth form colleges or schools, ranging from basic English and maths to Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) and the new T-Levels.

Most do offer some A-levels, the same as sixth form colleges and schools, but also have a huge number of other qualifications available in different subjects and at different levels.

Qualifications Levels

Level 1 qualifications are fairly basic, building confidence and providing an introduction to a subject, industry or area of work. They include, for example, NVQ Level 1, BTEC Introductory Certificates and OCR Nationals which are roughly equivalent to GCSEs gained at grades 1 to 3. You will need qualifications at this level before progressing to level 2.

Level 2 qualifications give a deeper understanding of a subject or area of work. They include, for example, NVQ level 2 and BTEC First. They are roughly equivalent to GCSEs at grades 4 to 9. Many employers like young people to have a Level 2 qualification as a minimum.

Level 3 qualifications include A and AS-levels, NVQ Level 3, BTEC Nationals, Advanced and Progression Diplomas. This level is almost always required for entry to university and many employers will be looking for Level 3 in applicants for more technical or supervisory roles.

Levels 4 to 8 may also be available in your local college but are classed as ‘higher’ rather than ‘further’ education. They include Foundation degrees, HND/HNC courses, Honours degrees and postgraduate or professional qualifications at a high level.

Not all colleges, however, will offer the same variety of subjects and courses, so it’s very important to check carefully what is available locally.

Sixth Form College/Schools

Sixth Form colleges offer a wide range of A-Levels – an academic qualification.
They may also offer single award BTEC qualifications which students can mix and match with A-Levels. For example, a student may take two A-Levels and one BTEC.
School Sixth Forms also offer A-Levels but will probably not have such a wide range of subjects as a Sixth Form College.


  • Description:  Study a subject you took at GCSE in greater depth or choose a new one like economics, law or psychology. You could take 3 broad subjects you are interested in to keep your career options open or choose ones you need for a specific career.
  • Duration:  2 years.
  • Assessment:  Mostly exams at the end of the course.
  • Level of study:  3.
  • Entry requirements:  Course dependent, typically 5 GCSEs Grade 9-4 (usually including English and maths).
  • Work experience:  Usually 1 week during year 12.
  • Leads to:  University/college, higher and degree apprenticeships, work.

Our local Sixth Form Colleges/Schools are:

The Sixth Form College, Farnborough

All Hallows Sixth Form College

Qualification Types

Technical and Vocational Qualifications
These qualifications include BTECs and NVQs and are available in a wide range of subjects.

However, the government is looking to cut a lot of these qualifications in favour of the new T-Levels (see below). There is strong opposition to this move as many students have benefitted from these qualifications which open doors to jobs.

  • Description:  Qualifications which teach you how to do tasks specifically related to the industry and role you want to be involved in.
  • Duration:  Course dependent.
  • Assessment:  Can include coursework, skills tests and exams.
  • Level of study: 1+
  • Entry requirements: Course dependent.
  • Work experience:  Course dependent.
  • Leads to:  Apprenticeship, work, college or university.

The T-Levels are new qualifications that are being introduced in most of our local FE colleges now. To find out the subjects they are available in, visit the college websites.

  • Description:  Designed in partnership with employers to give you the skills and knowledge to get on in the workplace. Combines classroom learning with industry placements to prepare you for skilled work or higher level study. 1 T-Level is the equivalent of 3 A levels.
  • Duration:  2 years.
  • Assessment:  Exams, projects and practical assignments.
  • Level of study:  3.
  • Entry requirements:  Course dependent.
  • Work experience:  At least 45 days on industry placement.
  • Leads to:  University/college, higher and degree apprenticeships, work.

Our local FE Colleges are:

Farnborough College of Technology

Guildford College

HSDC Alton College

Merrist Wood College

Prospectuses for all colleges are available in the school library

FE / Further Education Funding

Many courses in reading, writing and basic maths are free, and you may not have to pay for tuition if you’re under 24 and studying for your first qualification equivalent to GCSE or A-level.

FE / further education students may be able to get help with the costs of:

  • Their course
  • Their day-to-day living costs
  • Childcare for any dependents

Depending on your circumstances and the subject you’re studying, you may qualify for:


Please see FHES Post-16 Options Booklet for details of all our local options


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