What are my options after leaving school?

Due to a change in the law, you are now required to stay in education until your eighteenth birthday. This is known as Raising the Participation Age.

There are a lot of options available to you after school so it’s important to research all of your options to help you make the right decision. Ucas gives a great overview of what paths you can take after your GCSEs.

There are three main options available to you:


If you enjoyed GCSEs and have your sights set on going to uni or further academic study, A-Levels may well be for you. If your school has a sixth form, you could stay there or opt to join another school’s sixth form, or you could attend a sixth form college. There are lots of differences between the two, and it’s a good idea to consider your own learning style to see where you’d be happiest.

You’re going to be dedicating a lot of time to the subjects you choose, so it’s important to take things that interest you and that you want to study further.

Click on the pictures below for articles about where each subject might take you.

Art and Design


Business StudiesChemistryClassics

Design and Technology

Drama and Theatre StudiesEconomicsEnglish Language and Literature


Government and Politics


Leisure Studies


Modern LanguagesMusicPhilosophy



Religious StudiesSociologySports and Physical Education

Travel and Tourism

A-level study is changing. Find out how this affects you; a-level reform facts.

Secondary Academic Support: would you like to have somewhere to go after school to get your homework done in a quiet supportive environment? Visit into university  to find out about the Redbridge Homework club.

 Vocational Qualifications


If you are leaving school, you may want to continue your education by going to college and studying a vocational subject or course. These are qualifications with a practical learning programme that relate directly to a career. There are many types of qualification available – from entry level beginner courses, right the way up to courses that are the equivalent of a degree.

If you’ve already got a good idea of what job you’d like to do, have a look at the Curriculum Map below to see which colleges in and around Southampton offer the relevant courses. If you’re still looking for inspiration, check out Career Pilot’s guide to the types of vocational course on offer – you might be surprised at what you find!

There are three colleges and two school sixth forms in Southampton, so it is important to research them all so that you can choose the one that offers the courses you want. This Curriculum Map offers a simple overview of which colleges offer which courses, and at what level.

There are also many excellent colleges just outside Southampton:

Top Tip

Make sure that you attend the open days at the colleges that you’re interested in – you’ll be able to meet with tutors and talk to them about the courses, as well as get a feel for the atmosphere of the college in a way that you can’t from a prospectus or website. These tend to be in June and September, and if you’ve missed one, you can always call and ask for a visit – colleges are always happy to oblige!

For extra guidance, or if you want to go further afield, visit the National Careers service site to look at where the courses you want to study are run. Always make sure that you check with the college, as the name of the course may vary slightly. National Careers Service


After leaving school, you may decide you would prefer to apply for an apprenticeship. There are a range of options available to help you earn while you learn and acquire all the training and skills you need to pursue your career.


Other Options – Entry to Employment, Traineeships


STEP Programme

  • JOB

Not sure which to choose? Know what you want but not how to get there? Not sure what you want to do?

If you are unemployed or just about to leave Year 11, we can offer you one to one support to:

  • Plan what you want to do next
  • Develop a plan of activities to help you achieve your goals
  • Recognise your skills, talents and ambitions
  • Match you to the right opportunity, whether that’s education, employment traineeship, apprenticeship, further training or volunteering opportunities
  • Stay on track with that opportunity through continued advice and guidance
  • Create your CV, support with application forms and practice interview techniques

How the support is funded

The STEP Programme is funded by the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit



When leaving school, you may feel like a change in learning environment but aren’t sure what to do next. Whether you don’t feel ready for an apprenticeship, or you didn’t get the grades you were hoping for, work-based learning might be the solution for you.

  • The Enham Trust have numerous skills, training and employment programmes that help disabled and disadvantaged people of all ages to take control of their lives and success in finding work. Every year they enable hundreds of people, with or without a disability, to develop their skills and work opportunities.
  • Skills to Achieve is a unique programme of support for young job seekers. They support young people aged 16-19 currently not in education, employment or training, through a unique programme of learning, they aim to help you find work, begin apprenticeships or start full-time education.
  • The Military Preparation College Designed specifically for 16-19 years olds (depending on when you turn 19), the MPC offers specific training and qualifications in uniformed and public services. The college is run across several locations in England and Wales.All of the activities on the course are designed to prepare you for the challenges of a worthwhile career in the Armed Forces or Public Services. You will leave the college equipped to make informed decisions in unfamiliar environments and situations.The pioneering programme at MPCT fuses physical training, vocational instruction, academic work and personal development. MPCT operates a roll-on-roll-off programme with a regular intake of learners. The course is tailored to the individual.
  • The Prince’s Trust offers programmes that aim to support young people back into education, employment or training. They provide programmes to develop young people’s personal and social development and enhance work skills. They help young people identify which programmes would be most suitable for them based on their interests and the skills
  • Safe helps isolated and disadvantaged young people rethink their options and find new ways to move forward. They offer support to help young people progress in life and work
  • Southampton City College offers learners the chance to join City Horizons at any time of the year to work on their maths, English and employment skills. The aim is to support progression to a career-led course of their choice; apprenticeship or a job
  • My Coaching delivers further education programmes to people aged between 15 and 19 years old
  • Wheatsheaf Trust offers individualised mentoring support for young people aged 14 – 24 to access education, training and employment opportunities. Travel expenses are reimbursed


Volunteering is a great way to build up your experience and impress employers. You can contact local charities and businesses to ask about work experience opportunities. It’s a good idea to send a CV and covering letter when you apply.

You can choose from a range of different options that can help you progress in your chosen career path.

  • Do-it can help you find volunteering opportunities
  • Vinspired will help you find ways of improving your employability through volunteering and work experience


What you choose to do will depend on where you want it to lead you. What career ideas have you got? Do the research and make sure you are heading in the right direction.