Students’ Careers and Transitions Information
OPTIONS AFTER YEAR 11
At the end of Year 11 the main options available to you are:
- Sixth Form
You need to think carefully about which best meets your needs, and consider which type of institution and type of study and learning would best suit you. The following information might help with your decision:
If you decide you would like to study at sixth form, you can choose to study at Arden or another sixth form. Sixth forms tend to mainly offer A levels , although some also offer BTECs too. You may choose Arden because you know the school and the teachers and it will be a familiar environment, as well as probably being easy to get to, but you might choose another Sixth form if Arden don’t offer the courses you are looking for, or if you would prefer to go somewhere else.
The atmosphere in sixth form could be more relaxed than the one you’re used to in school but it will still be structured. There may be free periods when you have no timetabled lessons. You’ll be given more responsibility though, so you’ll be expected to get on with homework or do further study in your free time, without a teacher checking up on you.
Even though you don’t have a taught lesson every period, you may still be expected to attend for the full school day. And school uniform may not necessarily be a thing of the past! You could still be asked to wear it or follow a dress code. Most sixth forms are also mixed gender just like other colleges, even if the school it’s attached to is an all-boys or all-girls school.
Sixth forms often have strict entry requirements and so you should always check what these are and if you are likely to meet them.
It’s likely that you’ll find the atmosphere at a further education college different from that of school. It will probably be more laid back, you’ll be able to wear your own clothes, be in charge of your own time when you’re not in lessons, and maybe even call your tutors by their first names.
You’ll still be expected to stick to a timetable and attend lessons, but you might not have to stay in college during your free periods. You’ll be given a lot of independence and expected to manage your own time. Everyone is different - would this way of working suit you? Think about that when you decide what kind of environment will inspire you.
Colleges tend to specialize more in vocational and practical courses and not all colleges offer A levels. They also have a much more varied body of students that can include full and part time students, day release students as well as school leavers and adults. There are a number of colleges around Solihull and Birmingham and you can find out more about them by looking at their websites:
University College Birmingham
Birmingham Metropolitan College
South & City College
Sixth Form College
Sixth form colleges fall half way between sixth forms and colleges. They tend to be bigger than sixth forms but smaller than colleges, but will offer both BTECs and A levels. Their students are all aged 16 – 19. The nearest sixth form college is Solihull Sixth Form College. You can find information on the sixth form college at:
Solihull Sixth Form College
An apprenticeship is a form of work based learning and are very practical. You will spend about four days a week with an employer and one day a week at college. You will also receive a training allowance while you train. Apprenticeships are very good for people who are not keen on classroom study and like to learn by doing. The best way to look for and apply for apprenticeships is to use the apprenticeship website:
Getting a Job
Fewer and fewer school leavers take this option up straight from school, but if you decide you would like this, any job you apply for will need to include training and qualifications. Often this will include day release. The best way to go about finding a job is:
- To approach employers direct to ask if they have any vacancies.
- Use local papers to look for job adverts
- Use internet job sites to search for vacancies
- Register with employment agencies who can help you find a job (could be good for finding a short term job, but not so great for long term jobs and careers)
- Visit local job centres or use their website (often these jobs are for 18 year olds though)
General Careers Information
The following career websites are good for helping you decide on a career, researching jobs, producing a CV and covering letter and much more.
A levels or BTEC?
If you decide to stay in education after year 11 you will have the choice of studying A levels or BTECS Often people don’t fully understand the difference between the two, but the points below might help you decide which is the best for you.
- When you do A levels you will need to choose a combination of three or four subjects
- A levels tend to be in more traditional subjects such as history, maths or science etc
- Assessment in A levels tends to be very heavily exam based and your final grade can be determined by your performance in an exam after two years, so you need to be sure that you are good at doing exams.
- A levels are mostly offered in sixth forms, although some but not all colleges offer them.
- You will generally need to have achieved a grade B at GCSE in any A level subjects you wish to study, but you should always check with individual colleges or sixth forms
- When you study BTECS, you will specialise in one subject and this would take up as much time as doing three A levels
- BTECS tend to be in vocational areas such as engineering, catering and health and social care etc.
- BTECS use continuous assessment, and so the work you produce over your course affects your final marks
- There are some exams in BTECS, but not big ones
- BTECS are mostly offered in colleges
- Entry grades for BTECS tend to be lower than A levels
- You can use BTECS to apply to university and they can lead on to degree courses.