Further Education

Further education is any education after secondary school (but does not include University). It is what you learn at 16. You can leave school at the end of year 11 but you must be in work, education or training until you are 18.

If you are applying to school, college or for training, you should contact them by the Autumn term of Year 11. You can talk to the college or school about how they can support your SEND plan or EHC plan.

Types of Further Education Settings    

  • 1. Sixth Form (Mainstream or Special School). A Sixth Form is Year 12 and 13. You will still get extra help for your SEND needs if needed.
  • 2. Mainstream further education (FE) colleges. Mainstream colleges offer lots of courses. These include ‘Stepping stone’ courses in maths and English and ‘Life Skills’ courses
  • 3. Specialist further education (FE) colleges. A specialist further education college is for young people with SEND only. You will usually need an EHC plan to go to a specialist college. Read a College checklist for young people with SEND.
  • 4. University. You can listen to a Supporting Access to University Podcast.


If you are studying, you could get extra money from your college if you need it. Support funds help some students if they are on low incomes or disabled. Ask your college welfare officer about bursaries.

Visit Scope for more information on College Funding for Disabled Students (external link).

Types of qualification and courses

GCSEs – these are the exams that 15 and 16 years olds sit at the end of Year 11.

A-levels – these are in -depth. They are studied after GCSEs and take two years of study.

Vocational qualifications

Vocational qualifications are practical. They are for a certain job, like being a builder or a childcare worker. You may do work experience as well as study.

  • BTEC. BTECs are to give you the skills for the work you want to do. There are different levels.
  • NVQ. You usually get your NVQ by being trained while you work. There are different levels.
  • T Levels. T Levels are new courses. They are after GCSEs. They are the same as 3 A levels. They are 2 year courses. They are a mix of being in the classroom and working.

Work Experience and Careers Advisor  

Doing work experience while you are still at college or school is a good way of learning about work and what is a good fit for you.

If you are at school or college you can get careers advice. Ask your school or college about this.

Local study programmes

Local study programmes offering employability support

A study programme If you do not feel ready for paid employment but would like opportunities to continue to study, whilst developing employability skills then a study programme may be right for you.

Additional courses and life skills

There are some online resources that can help you: