Post 16 Pathways and Entry Requirements

Post 16 Pathways



What are A Levels?

A levels are traditional qualifications offered by colleges and 6th Forms.  They mainly focus around academic subjects and are considered to be excellent general academic qualifications that are valued by employers and universities alike.

What to expect…

A Levels can give young people a chance to find out about their favourite GCSE subjects in greater depth or perhaps study one of the subjects that many schools and colleges only offer at A Level such as Law, Economics or Psychology.  Expect lots of time reading and writing assignments. A Levels are good qualifications for entry to higher education. Each A Level earns UCAS tariff points, which count towards entry for university.

How are they assessed?

A levels are assessed through examinations. Some courses may have a small amount of coursework, but this depends on the subject. You will need to ask for each subject before making your final decision.

What can they lead to?

A Level students usually intend to progress to university after their studies. This is not the only choice as the need for Higher Apprenticeships has increased along with applying for regular work.



What is a vocational course?

Level 3 BTECs (and OCR, City and Guilds) are vocational qualifications available in a wide range of subjects. People choose these courses if they are interested in learning more about a particular sector or industry. The qualifications offer a mix of theory and practice and can also include an element of work experience.

What to expect…

Most courses are 1 or 2 years. Level 3 vocational qualifications can be studied instead of, or in combination with, A Levels. At Level 3, many of these qualifications are awarded UCAS tariff points for entry to higher education.

How are they assessed?

A range of different assessment methods are likely to be used – such as assignments, tests, observations of learner performance, role-play, work-based assessment, production of visual or audio materials and products. Generally, assessment is less exam-based and more coursework and project focused.

What can they lead to?

Vocational qualifications prepare you for further learning and work but you can also study for higher level qualifications at University, you will need to check the entry requirements for courses as they do differ.



What is an Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is work based learning. An apprentice is employed by a company who also provides a college education to achieve further qualifications. You can attend college from 1 day a week to block release depending on the nature of the job. Traineeships are usually approx. 16 weeks of on the job training to improve the employability of a student prior to embarking on an apprenticeship.

What to expect…

You can attend college from 1 day a week to block release depending on the nature of the job. You will be paid, normally minimum wage, and apprenticeships can be from 1 – 4 years in length.

How are they assessed?

Continual assessment during the apprenticeship both at work and college. Details will be confirmed with your employer.

What can they lead to?

Most companies continue the employment of the student after apprenticeship completion. Some companies also offer further education up to degree level.


What T Levels?

T Levels are new courses which follow GCSEs and are equivalent to 3 A levels. These 2-year courses, which launched September 2020, have been developed in collaboration with employers and businesses so that the content meets the needs of industry and prepares students for work, further training or study.

T Levels offer students a mixture of classroom learning and ‘on-the-job’ experience during an industry placement of at least 315 hours (approximately 45 days).

In time, students will be able to take a T Level in the following subject areas:

  • accounting
  • agriculture, land management and production
  • animal care and management
  • building services engineering for construction (starting September 2021)
  • catering
  • craft and design
  • design and development for engineering and manufacturing
  • design, surveying and planning for construction (now available)
  • digital business services (starting September 2021)
  • digital production, design and development (now available)
  • digital support and services (starting September 2021)
  • education and childcare (now available)
  • finance
  • hair, beauty and aesthetics
  • health (starting September 2021)
  • healthcare science (starting September 2021)
  • human resources
  • legal
  • maintenance, installation and repair for engineering and manufacturing
  • management and administration
  • engineering, manufacturing, processing and control
  • media, broadcast and production
  • onsite construction (starting September 2021)
  • science (starting September 2021)

When will they start?

The first 3 T Levels are now available at selected colleges, schools and other providers across England.

A further 7 T Levels will be available in September 2021 with the remaining courses starting in either 2022 or 2023.

We have published a list of the providers who are offering T Level courses up to September 2022.

How T Levels will work with other qualification?

T Levels will become one of the main choices for students after GCSE alongside:

  • apprenticeships for students who wish to learn a specific occupation ‘on the job’
  • A levels for students who wish to continue academic education

We are currently reviewing post-GCSE qualifications to create a simpler, high-quality system that students, parents and employers will all understand.

T Levels are based on the same standards as apprenticeships, designed by employers and approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute). We expect the total time for a T Level to be around 1,800 hours over the 2 years, including the industry placement. This is a significant increase on most current technical education courses.

This differs from an apprenticeship, which is typically 80% on-the-job and 20% in the classroom and is more suited to those who know what occupation they want to pursue, want to earn a wage and learn at the same time and are ready to enter the workforce at age 16.

Structure of a T Level

T Level courses include the following compulsory elements:

  • a technical qualification, which includes:
    • core theory, concepts and skills for an industry area
    • specialist skills and knowledge for an occupation or career
  • an industry placement with an employer
  • a minimum standard in maths and English if students have not already achieved them

Industry Placements

Every T Level includes an industry placement with an employer focused on developing the practical and technical skills required for the occupation. These will last a minimum of 315 hours (approximately 45 days) but can last longer. Employers can offer industry placements as a block, day release or a mix of these, and can discuss sharing part of the placement with another employer if necessary.

Providers will support employers offering industry placements. This will include assistance with the necessary paperwork, a careful planning process and support with designing the industry placement.

Grading and certification

Students who complete their T Level will receive an overall grade of pass, merit, distinction or distinction*. They will get a nationally recognised certificate which will show their overall grade and a breakdown of what they have achieved.

The T Level certificate will include:

  • an overall grade for the T Level, shown as pass, merit, distinction or distinction*
  • a separate grade for the core component, using A* to E
  • a separate grade for each occupational specialism, shown as pass, merit or distinction

It will also include confirmation that the student has:

  • met the minimum requirements for maths and English qualifications
  • completed the industry placement
  • met any additional mandatory requirements

A student’s overall T Level grade will be worked out from the grades they achieved on the core component and the occupational specialism(s).

Students who do not pass all elements of their T Level will get a T Level statement of achievement which will show the elements they have completed.

For further information visit:

Post 16 Entry Requirements

 A LevelsApprenticeshipVocational
Entry RequirementsThese depend on the subject. Most courses ask for a minimum of 6 GCSE’s grades 4 and above. There are some exceptions, so always check each college.You must be between 16-24 years old. Each apprenticeship has different requirements so research is advised. The better GCSE results you get, the more opportunities you will have.These depend on where you study, the subject and the level of the qualification. To do a Level 2 course you will generally need four GCSE’s at grade 3-9, a Level 3 course will require five GCSE’s at grade 4-9.
Local Providers

·       St John Rigby College

·       Winstanley College

·       Wigan & Leigh College

·       Warrington & Vale College

·       Runshaw College

·       Bolton College

·       Carmel College

·       Deanery Sixth Form

Applying for an apprenticeship is like applying for a job. You must register with the National Apprenticeship Service to be able to view most of the vacancies in the area. There are also training providers who can help with the search:


·  Alliance learning

·  Waterside training

·  The Growth Company

·  Wigan & Leigh College

·  West Lancs College

·   St John Rigby College

·   Wigan & Leigh College

·   Wigan Warriors College

·   Warrington & Vale College

·   Myerscough College

·   Deanery Sixth Form

·   West Lancs College

·   Runshaw College

·   St Helens College

·   Carmel College

·   Bolton College

For more informationFor general information about A levels, visit:


For information on what A level some University courses require,visit:


Speak to your subject teachers.


Make an appointment with Mr Blagbrough.

For general information on apprenticeships, visit:


To apply for an apprenticeship in the area, register at:

Visit the websites for all the colleges that you are interested in.


Attend the open events and experience subjects.


Look through the prospectus and get to know the courses you are interested in.


Annual Open Evening

We are pleased to announce that our Annual Open Evening will take place on Thursday, 10th October.

If you are applying for a secondary place for your child for September 2025, we warmly invite you to join us at our Open Event.

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