Pathways

Pathway options

It’s good to know all the options available from aged 16, whether your child is just discovering their favourite subjects, getting ready to make their GCSE choices, or well on the way to completing this stage of study. The more information your child has on what they can do next, through ongoing conversations, the easier big decisions at the key milestones will be.

Discover which pathways could work for your child

Pathways at 16+

Students aged 16+ who are ready to begin level 3 training and education have three main choices.

T-Levels
T-levels were introduced in 2020 and are currently being rolled out across the country. Your child will take a two-year course designed with employers and spend approximately 80% of their time in a classroom setting at school or college and 20% on an industry placement with an employer. One T-level is equivalent to three A-levels.

Apprenticeships
Apprenticeships combine part-time study with training in a paid job. Your child will spend most of their time at work and at least 20% of their time ‘off-the-job’ studying, usually in a classroom setting at a college or with a training provider. From age 16, a young person will usually begin a level 2 or level 3 apprenticeship.

A-levels
Most students select three subjects to study at A-level, over a two-year period. However, your child could choose to combine A-levels with other qualifications or to study more than three A-levels.

Pathways at 16+

Students aged 16+ who are ready to begin level 3 training and education have three main choices.

T-Levels
T-levels were introduced in 2020 and are currently being rolled out across the country. Your child will take a two-year course designed with employers and spend approximately 80% of their time in a classroom setting at school or college and 20% on an industry placement with an employer. One T-level is equivalent to three A-levels.

Apprenticeships
Apprenticeships combine part-time study with training in a paid job. Your child will spend most of their time at work and at least 20% of their time ‘off-the-job’ studying, usually in a classroom setting at a college or with a training provider. From age 16, a young person will usually begin a level 2 or level 3 apprenticeship.

A-levels
Most students select three subjects to study at A-level, over a two-year period. However, your child could choose to combine A-levels with other qualifications or to study more than three A-levels.

Other options from 16+

As well as the three main options listed above, there are others available from 16+ that you may want to explore with your child.

These include:

  • Transition programme
    This is a one-year study programme that might benefit your child if they need additional time to get ready to study a T-level. It will give your child the relevant knowledge, practical and study skills to excel in their chosen subject. Talk to your local T-level provider to find out more.
     
  • Other level 3 qualifications
    As well as A-levels and T-levels there are other specific qualifications at level 3 that can prepare your child for particular job roles or further study
     
  • Level 2 qualifications
    Additional GCSEs or other level 2 qualifications might be the right next step to help your child build their pathway to further study or the workplace
     
  • Traineeships
    A traineeship could help your child develop the right skills to begin an apprenticeship or to prepare for work and includes a placement with an employer
     

Pathways from 18+

Employment
Employment options available from age 18 will vary depending on where you live. To start exploring the options, you could have a conversation with your child’s school or college. They can advise on the best job prospects locally, as well as roles that are suitable for your child.

They can also help you access labour market information, which shows existing jobs in the local area, the skills needed for certain roles and which local industries are likely to need more employees in the future.

Apprenticeships
Apprenticeships from 18+ combine study with training in a paid job. They are offered at different levels, depending on the nature of the job, starting at Level 2 (GCSEs are Level 2 qualifications for example) and including Level 6, which is the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree.

Higher education
The options for higher education include a bachelor’s degree and higher technical qualifications (e.g., HNC/HNDs and foundation degrees). These courses are delivered in universities and further education colleges.

Further education
Employment or higher education may not be the best next step for your child at 18+. They may wish to complete a level 3 qualification instead, for example, which supports entry into the workplace or further study. Your local further education college can advise on the options available at this stage.

Pathways from 18+

Employment
Employment options available from age 18 will vary depending on where you live. To start exploring the options, you could have a conversation with your child’s school or college. They can advise on the best job prospects locally, as well as roles that are suitable for your child.

They can also help you access labour market information, which shows existing jobs in the local area, the skills needed for certain roles and which local industries are likely to need more employees in the future.

Apprenticeships
Apprenticeships from 18+ combine study with training in a paid job. They are offered at different levels, depending on the nature of the job, starting at Level 2 (GCSEs are Level 2 qualifications for example) and including Level 6, which is the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree.

Higher education
The options for higher education include a bachelor’s degree and higher technical qualifications (e.g., HNC/HNDs and foundation degrees). These courses are delivered in universities and further education colleges.

Further education
Employment or higher education may not be the best next step for your child at 18+. They may wish to complete a level 3 qualification instead, for example, which supports entry into the workplace or further study. Your local further education college can advise on the options available at this stage.

Extra support

A range of help is available

  • Your child’s school or college is required to publish a careers plan, which you will find on its website. These career plans include details of events and activities you and/or your child might want to attend.
     
  • The website will also have contact details of the careers leader who will be a useful starting point for any career discussion.
     
  • You may feel more comfortable speaking to a teacher you already know, such as your child’s form tutor. They can also provide guidance on where to access more information and the careers specialists who can help.
     
  • You can speak to a specialist careers adviser through the National Careers Service website.
     
  • If your child has special educational needs and disabilites (SEND), their school or college can help you find out what additional support is available.
     

What information would help now?

Details on what’s involved in the different pathways available from 16+.

Details on what’s involved in the different pathways available from 18+.

Tips on how to start the conversation with my child about their future working life.

Resources to help me guide my child on the right education and training pathway for them.