GCSE Results Day is on Thursday 23rd August 2018.
When GCSE Results Day comes round you know it’s time to breathe a sigh of relief. Now you’ve got those results in your hand you can get a better picture of your options – and celebrate your freedom, of course! But what are your options after GCSEs?
First, do a victory dance. You did your best and now it’s all over – you’re free at last! However you did in your GCSE results, you have LOADS of options open to you. When you’re ready, take a look and see which ones could work for you:
Post GCSE Options:
A-levels aren’t the only way you can get qualifications after your GCSEs. Many places offer vocational qualifications. These are still study courses, just like A-levels, and they give you important qualifications that employers will recognise, just like A-levels. The difference is that you are less likely to be in a classroom all day every day. You’ll apply your learning to practical, real-life situations. Vocational qualifications can really help you get ahead in life and work. Doing A-levels in a sixth form or sixth form college often sounds like a natural next step after GCSEs but it may not always be the best option for what you want.
Vocational qualifications you can do after GCSEs:
Applied General Levels and Tech Levels are Level 3 qualifications, just like A-Levels. You can use them to a springboard to leap into higher education like degrees or future employment.
Level 3 vocational qualifications usually take around two years to complete, the same as with A-levels, and can be a great option if you have a specific career in mind. By the time you’ve finished you will often have the opportunity to put real-life work experience on your CV, too. And you will still get to meet and hang out with plenty of people your own age.
Here are some places where you can study for vocational qualifications:
- Colleges and Further Education Colleges (where you can study for qualifications at level 1 and up)
- University Technical Colleges (if you’re aged 14-18, you can study courses to do with a specific job area like engineering)
- Studio Schools (these are small schools that feel like a workplace more than a school, and they teach you through work and work projects to make
- sure everything you learn is linked to the real world)
- Employers offering apprenticeship programmes (we’ll come onto that in a second!)
Become a Young Professional
If you’re aged 14+ you can become a Young Professional with Youth Employment UK. It’s a great thing to do if you have solid future plans, and even if you have no idea what you want to do next. Becoming a Young Professional means thinking about your personal life skills like self belief and communication, there are loads of benefits and it’s all free, so give it a go.
Youth Employment UK has a few more clever ways to help you prepare for your future and get stuck in:
You can volunteer with Youth Employment UK as a Youth Ambassador. Volunteering with us gives you so much more than something great to put on your CV. As well as networking with young people, employers and policy-shaping organisations across the UK, you’ll be kept up to date with some amazing opportunities to make your CV really shine. Our volunteers have written blog posts for national newspapers. They’ve taken part in youth employment events and summits, and gone to Parliament. They’ve even acted as ambassadors abroad. Find out more about volunteering with us and what it can do for your life and career confidence.
Lots of pepole choose to study A-levels in sixth form or sixth form college after their GCSEs. A-Levels are a Level 3 qualification that takes two years to complete. You can choose the subjects you’re most interested in and, just as with vocational qualifications, your A-levels are valued by employers and higher education providers like universities.
Doing A-levels means you can still do an apprenticeship later if you want to – you still have lots of future options. Employers offer sponsored degrees, Higher Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships that could be a good fit for your A-level qualifications.
Of course, choosing your A-levels is a whole new ball game, the same as with any vocational qualifications you might be thinking off. Give yourself time, do your research and choose wisely!
Apprenticeships and Traineeships
What are apprenticeships? They are a way to combine paid work and study. You study for a qualification (Level 2 and up) that is valued by employers, and you get a salary to work and build your knowledge and skills with real-life experience. This power combo of work-based knowledge and theory knowledge can provide a big springboard into your future career.
So how does it work? Employers offer apprenticeships that help you study and train in a wide range of business sectors, from beauty and construction to web technology and engineering. You will spend most of your time working and getting trained under supervision. You will also do part-time study – which is often held as classroom learning, e.g. in a Further Education college – towards your qualification.
There are so many different kinds of apprenticeships and they all have different set requirements, but your GCSEs could be a perfect match for what they are looking for. It changes for each apprenticeship, but employers often look for around 4-5 GCSEs with pass grades of 1-3 or A-C, and sometimes they will ask for specific subjects. For example, an engineering apprenticeship might need you to have a science GCSE at a certain grade.
After your apprenticeship you can go into full-time work, or do higher level apprenticeships, or go to university in the future. All your options stay wide open.
You can also do a traineeship with an employer if you don’t have a Level 3 qualification and you want to put yourself in a better position to successfully apply for an apprenticeship. If your GCSE results didn’t pan out as expected, this could be a useful option for you.
Work and Learn
DID YOU KNOW? The law these days is that you have to be in some kind of recognised work or training until your 18th birthday. So it’s fine to do an apprenticeship or study for vocational qualifications after your GCSEs, but you can’t just go into a full-time job.
So what can you do if you’re raring to go, you’re ready for work and you want to shake the school and study dust off your heels?
- Do an apprenticeship or traineeship (because you’re working, but with study time to get a qualification)
- Work, volunteer or be self-employed full time (more than 20 hours a week, for more than eight weeks) so long as you are combining it with part-time learning or training that leads to accreditation (the part-time learning/training has to be 280 guided learning hours a year, which works out as one day a week).
If this sounds like an option you want to take further, have a good chat with your teachers and family or carer(s). Make sure that any decision you make leads to learning or training for a nationally-recognised qualification and will be a good move for your future as well as for how you feel right now.
Thinking about doing a degree one day?
Don’t panic, because none of the options we’ve given here will shut you off from doing a degree in the future if you want to. Academic study (like A-Levels), vocational study (like BTECs) and work-based training (like apprenticeships) all give you the chance to do higher education like study for a degree once you’re 18.
If you’re already thinking about a degree subject you might be interested in, now is a good time to think about what entry requirements you might need. You can check out the UCAS site for entry requirements. As an example, if you wanted to do a political science degree, you might be expected to have three A-levels or their equivalent at high pass grades, and in some universities a general studies A-Level might not be accepted. Having an idea of this kind of thing in advance could help you choose your next steps.
Are your GCSE results not what you expected?
Did you get grade C or above in maths and English?
If you didn’t, the first thing you need to do is get in touch with the head of wherever you were expecting to train or study next. That means speaking to the training provider for your apprenticeship, or the head of the school or college where you were expecting to go. They need to know because it’s now a requirement for you to have grade C or higher in maths or English. Fear not, you can always resit your maths and/or English GCSE in November! Ask your school or college about how it all works, and don’t forget that some colleges offer classes to help you resit your maths or English GCSE exam.
Do your results mean it’s all-change for your plans?
Sometimes change isn’t what we want but it can happen to any of us, and there is always another route to achieve what you want in life. You might not have the grades you needed to do the courses you expected to as your next step in school or college, but there is no need to suffer alone and in silence. Talk to the head of the school or college you applied to. They may be able to relax requirements, or give you options, or help you think about next steps like retaking any exams you might need.
If one of your results is VERY unexpected, and you really think an error might have been made, you can talk to your school about getting your exam marked again. This is known as a remark.
If you’re thinking about resits or remarked papers, always speak to a teacher or school careers advisor first. They can help you get things in perspective and sort out an action plan. Don’t worry – there is help at hand and you are not alone.