Once a child reaches the age of 16, s/he is no longer legally obliged to attend full-time education. What are the options for children aged 16 plus in the United Kingdom?
School with a Sixth Form
Many schools have a Sixth Form where students are prepared for AS and A-level exams, with a view to continuing their education at a University or College. Many comprehensive schools do not have a sixth form and so those wishing to continue their education can move to another school where there is a sixth form. Most schools with a sixth form hold open evenings, (usually in the spring term), for potential students where they can discuss what the school and the course is like with teachers and existing students. Also many single sex schools now admit students of both sexes in their sixth form, so choice of sixth form schools is far greater than ever before. Most schools advertise their open evenings in the local press, or you can check the school's web site or conact the school direct for more information. Admission to the sixth form will of course be dependent on achieving certain grades at GCSE level. In some cases where the required grade is not reached the school may still accept a student if there are still places available.
College with a Sixth Form
As an alternative to a school with a sixth form, many students opt for a specialist Sixth Form College, or College of Further Education. At the latter, students who did not achieve high enough grades in their GCSEs can retake them if they wish, before starting their A-level courses. Usually there are more courses available at sixth form colleges than at a school with a sixth form, though emphasis amy be more on vocational subjects rather than on academic subjects.
For a list of specialist Sixth Form Colleges press here
For more information on Sixth form Colleges press here
After the sixth form, many students choose to go to a University or tertiary College to study for a degree, or to take another course, which is relevant to the career they want to go into. About twenty years ago there were a mixture of Universities and Polytechnics in Britain, the latter offering less academic course. But since 1993 the Polytechnics have been given university status and so there are many different university courses available in UK universities.
For a list of universities in the UK press here
Applying for a place at university:
Most students are able to apply for a place at a university in the Autumn term the year before they are due to start at a university. All universities have open days throughout the year, so that potential students can visit the campus and see for themselves what the university is like. (Usually it is up to the individual student to arrange this, rather than his or her school/college). Once the student has decided which univeristy and course s/he would like to take the next year, s/he must apply for a place through an organisation called UCAS (University and College Admissions Service). It will involve putting up to six choices in order of preference on the UCAS application form and sneding it off for processing. For details of how this works press the link here: Applying for place at University/college Once the application has been received, the universities will be notified of the student's application. S/he should then hear from the individual universities, perhaps inviting him/her for a an interview, or possibly offering him/her a place dependent upon achiveing certain grades at A-level (a conditional offer).
A-level results are published each year, usually on the Thursday of the third week in August. If the student achieves the grades the univeristy has asked for, s/he is automatically accepted onto the course s/he applied to. However if the student doesn't achieve the grades s/he was expecting s/he can do several things:
1) Contact the university to see if they will still accept him/her for the course, albeit with lower grades.
2) Decide to retake the A-level(s) in the hope of getting higher grades and then enter the university in year's time.
3) Go through the clearing process where universities say what courses still have vacancies in them and what grades are needed for these courses. Although many students are reluctant to go through clearing as it means they will not be able to attend the university they wanted to go to in the first place, it does mean that they should still be able study the subject they wish and gain the degree that they originally chose.
For more information about clearing press here
Paying for university
In order to pay for the cost of studying at university/college the government has introduced the "student loan" system where students are given a loan to pay for things such as tuition fees, accomodation and general living expenses. For more details on how this works press the link here: Student Loans
As from 2006, the way students pay for their university tuition fees, etc will be changing. Here is a link giving more information on what is going to happen. Press here
Living away from home
For information on how a student living away from home finds a place to live press the link here: University/College accommodation