Further Education

What is further education

Further education is the term given to any education after secondary school that is not an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. It’s what you learn after the age of 16, but usually not at university. You can legally leave school at the end of the school year in which you turn 16 (normally the end of year 11). However, all young people must be in some kind of employment, education or training until the age of 18. This can be combined with paid or voluntary work.  Each school/college or training provider will have its deadline for applications so make sure you contact the setting by the Autumn term of Year 11.

Some transitional arrangements discussion take place between the existing and new placements.  Some colleges ask the school for references and some ask for an interview but this depends on the destination.  Colleges give conditional offers subject to grades.

Applications for post 16 placements (colleges, training programmes etc) need to be submitted in the Autumn term of Year 11 - check the college/training provider's website for details on how to apply. Some transitional arrangements discussion can take place between existing and new placement. Some colleges ask the school for references and some ask for an interview but this depends on the destination. Colleges give conditional offers subject to grades. Talk to the college/training provider about how they can support your SEND plan etc.. going forward. 

Visit the National Careers Service website for information on options with an EHC Plan (external link). 

Types of Further Education Settings    

1. Sixth Form (Mainstream or Special School)

A Sixth Form is Year 12 and 13, and where you study academic or vocational qualifications, from entry level to GCSEs, BTECs and A levels. You will continue to receive extra help for your SEND needs if required. You can find a list of secondary schools in Sutton on the Sutton Council website.

2. Mainstream further education (FE) colleges

Mainstream colleges offer a wide range of courses to suit all levels of learning. For example:

  • Academic courses (A Levels, GCSE's).
  • Vocational courses (such as BTECS).
  • "Stepping stone" courses in Maths and English.
  • Courses which combine study with on- the- job training or work experience.
  • "Life skills" courses to help young people prepare for adult life, work and participate in the community.(Entry Level).
  • Supported Internships
  • Apprenticeships
  • Traineeships

3. Specialist further education (FE) colleges

A specialist further education college provides education for young people with SEND only. You will usually need an EHC plan to go to a specialist college. You or your parent/carer can request that the local authority/SEND Service name a specialist college in your EHC plan following the review of your EHCP.

Read a College checklist for young people with SEND or Download a PDF (92.24KB) of the College checklist. 

Higher education

Higher education is something some people study after Further education. It usually takes place at universities and includes undergraduate and postgraduate study.

Supporting Access to University Podcast addresses the common questions young people with additional needs have about applying to, choosing and attending university. Access the Podcast here (external link). 

UCAS also provide expert advice and best practice suggestions on how to support students with SEND in their career development. Visit UCAS' website (external link). 

Read the recently published Graduate employment and skills guide (external link).  It is relevant for both FE and HE students completing their studies and about to start their career journey. It has been produced with those finishing college or university courses in 2021 in mind, but current students and recent graduates and leavers may also find it helpful. It signposts sources of advice for employment and jobs and will help your students think about what they want to do next, by identifying and developing skills, gaining experience, finding work, and maintaining wellbeing.


If you are studying, you could get extra money from your college if you’re facing financial hardship. Support funds help disadvantaged students, such as disabled students or those on low incomes with the costs of further education.  Contact your college student support or welfare officer for more information on how to apply for funds.

You can also talk to your college or education provider about Learner Support (GOV.UK) to find out if you can get financial support. Learn more about Learner Support (external link). 

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

If you are attending University, you may be able to get Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA). DSA is support to cover the study-related costs you have because of a mental health problem, long term illness or any other disability. This can be on its own or in addition to any student finance you get. The type of support and how much you get depends on your individual needs - not your household income. Read about DSA (external link).