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The decisions you make at this stage in life are important for setting yourself on the pathway to your chosen career. Many Year 11 students have now applied for their options for September. If you haven’t yet made a decision, don’t worry! There is still time to apply. Take a look through the options below and think about which would be best suited to you.

You are allowed to have more than one choice when it comes to the different options available to you in September. If you have already applied and received an offer for your chosen course, that’s excellent news! Now you will need to start having a think about your back up plan. This is really important for if you do not get your first choice. This may be if you don’t achieve the grades required to get into your chosen course or if you change your mind and decide on a different pathway over the Summer.

For example, if you have chosen to study A-Levels at sixth form, you could also apply for your local sixth form college and further education college. If you have chosen a BTEC do some research around other local colleges to see if they offer similar courses. Perhaps you could think about also applying to an Apprenticeship.

Have you thought about all the options available to you in September? Have a look through the different routes below to see which next steps you could take.


A-Levels are available to study within a sixth form at a secondary school or at a sixth form college. They provide you with the opportunity to study 3 or 4 different subjects, particularly those subjects you may have already studied in school and you would like to progress on to a higher level. They usually focus on more academically driven pathways. A-Levels are particularly beneficial if you are looking to go on to study Law or Medicine. Progression from A-Levels often leads on into university or employment. 


BTECs are vocational, specialist work-related qualifications. These qualifications enable you to get the skills you require for working within your chosen industry. There are courses available from Level 1 and it is dependent on your results at GCSE as well as if you have studied the course area before. A Level 3 like a BTEC qualification is equivalent to 3 A-Levels. BTEC qualifications are ideal for progressing down more practical routes. Progression from BTECs often lead on to university, Apprenticeships or employment.


Studying an Apprenticeship offers you the opportunity to:

  • Earn while you learn
  • Learn on the job
  • Benefit from support during training
  • Develop the skills employers want
  • Gain a nationally recognised qualification

You can undertake Apprenticeships in a wide range of areas. You will be earning a salary and also studying for a qualification to enable you to get the theoretical and practical skills for your chosen career. 

Top tips for choosing your next steps
  • Think about your career aspirations. What do you want to achieve? What are your goals and aspirations?
  • Think about how you like to study. Do you prefer coursework over sitting exams?
  • What skills would you like to develop? How will you develop these skills within your chosen option.
  • Don’t just choose what your friends are doing. Evaluate yourself and your own career plans.
  • Discuss with your teachers, family and friends. They are the best people to advise you.
  • Write down your Plan A, Plan B and your Plan C. Your teachers will be asking you so make sure you are able to confidently tell them each of your options.