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Post-18 Options

The Academy works closely with a range of post-18 education providers, and employers, to ensure students are thinking about their longer-term post-18 plans.

It is during Year 12 and Year 13 (or equivalent), that students will be making decisions about what they would like to do after their post-16 education. Our useful links section of the website has some helpful information about Higher Education, Further Education, and Employability to support with decision making.

The range of routes available will be proactively discussed within the careers curriculum. There is no one ‘right’ path for any student, and the Academy supports all of its learners to make informed and inspired decisions about their post-18 education as well as their post-16 education. Some of the main routes that can be followed are below, with a brief summary of what they are, however, this list is not exhaustive:

Higher Education

Higher Education continues to be one of the most popular post-18 options for students. The term ‘Higher Education’ covers all types of higher-level education (Level 4 qualifications and above) that you can study, following post-16 education. This includes Higher Education at university, and at FE Colleges (studying qualifications ranging from HNCs, HNDs, and full degrees).

University: university is the post-18 pathway that is most understood. As a general rule, going to university involves completing a three-year degree programme, in a subject that you have chosen to study. Applications are made through UCAS, and funding support is provided by Student Finance England, including a loan to cover tuition fees, and a maintenance loan to support with living costs, which is available whether you move away from home for university, or stay at home for university (this will impact the total funding available).

FE Colleges: FE colleges also provide Higher Education courses. These are often called HNCs (Higher National Certificates), HNDs (Higher National Diplomas), or you can study for a full degree at a College. HNCs are Level 4 qualifications, and HNDs are Level 5. HNCs and HNDs are a more vocational Higher Education qualification, focussed on ‘learning by doing’, and developing skills for the workplace. Upon completing a HNC and/or HND, students may be able to go to university to ‘top-up’ to a full degree. They are also often taught more flexibly, either during evenings, or on one or two days a week, to allow students to continue with part time work, or other commitments. Tuition fees at FE Colleges are lower, and students are entitled to tuition fee loans and maintenance loans to support with living costs, just like you would if you were to go to university. The same application process applies, through Student Finance England. Most courses are listed on the UCAS website, but students are also encouraged to look at their local FE College’s degrees section to see the range of degree-level programmes that are available.


A range of apprenticeships can be studied following post-18 education. This can range from Level 2 apprenticeships, all the way through to degree level apprenticeships (Level 6). Apprenticeships would involve going into a real job, and being paid a salary, whilst also completing training and potentially completing an additional qualification alongside your work. Priory Apprenticeships has a range of apprenticeships available to school leavers at eighteen, which can be found here: Live apprenticeship vacancies for Priory Apprenticeships can be found here:

Access Courses/Foundation Courses

Some students may have Higher Education aspirations, but are not quite sure what they would like to study, or haven’t quite got the grades that they need to be accepted onto their course. Students in these positions may study towards an Access (to HE) course, or study a Foundation Degree. These are both preparatory courses for progressing onto Higher Education qualifications, giving you an opportunity to develop your knowledge, and to ‘get a feel’ for a subject. Access courses are typically offered by Further Education Colleges, whilst Foundation degrees can be found via UCAS, and are offered by universities and FE Colleges.


Upon leaving school after Year 13, students can enter the world of work. The Academy careers team and careers advisor can support students with CV writing, interview skills, job-readiness, and applications. Students who are considering entering the world of work after their post-18 education may also consider the apprenticeship pathway, as that combines further training with real-work. Students should look to job vacancy websites to explore live opportunities, such as Indeed, Reed, and Linkedin. There are lots of local job opportunities available to students, so students should consider looking at local labour market information (links available in the ‘Useful Links’ section), to see which sectors may be more likely to have job vacancies and opportunities.

For information on going to work within the Armed Forces, we recommend the following websites. The Academy has close links with the Armed Forces, and can speak to our Outreach contacts for additional support if students would benefit from that:

Gap Years

Some students may decide to take a gap year after their post-18 education. Some students use this to do some work, for example to save for Higher Education, whilst some use it as an opportunity to go travelling. Common advice for anyone considering a gap year is to make sure that they do use the time to do something meaningful, so that they can reflect on their experiences in future job interviews or applications.

The Academy’s Sixth Form support to help with decision making will include visits to local universities, talks about apprenticeships and with employers, and talks from other training providers to look at alternative routes. Students will continue to have access to the careers team for dedicated UCAS or post-18 application support, as well as access to a fully qualified careers advisor to talk through their plans.