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Further Education

Further Education (FE) refers to educational choices made after your 16th birthday. It covers all qualifications lower than a degree. Everyone has to be continuing in some form of FE study until they are 18.

After GCSEs, you could stay in school, go to a sixth form college, go to a FE college, or join a work-based training provider.

For more information about worked-based training please see our apprenticeship and training provider pages.

School Sixth Form
• If you’re already at a school with a sixth form, you could stay on – you already know the place, the teachers, and your friends (who might stay on too).
• It’s still worth looking at other schools – sixth forms vary in size, course offering, and subjects, as well as extra activities and opportunities you might like.
• Check whether they offer the courses you want – wherever you choose to go, make sure you'll be studying subjects that interest you.

Sixth Form College
• Sixth form colleges can be more informal than school sixth forms.
• They’re usually bigger, and they can often offer you more study options.
• You'll get to make new friends from different schools

FE College
• Go to college open days – they’re great opportunities to talk to students and tutors.
• College is an adult environment where you take more responsibility for yourself and your learning – there's support and guidance available, but it‘s also a chance for you to prepare for work and life post-education.
• There's usually a range of sport and leisure opportunities – employers and universities look for evidence of your wider interests and achievements, so check out college clubs and activities!


What's Next? 2024 Provision Guide
The Employability and Skills Team have produced a guide to support a young person's next steps. The purpose of this guide is to give you an overview of the options for post-16 provision in your local area. You can view the guides below according to your location in Essex:

What's Next?
2024 Provision Guide

Colchester and Tendring

What's Next?
2024 Provision Guide

Braintree, Chelmsford and Maldon
What's Next?
2024 Provision Guide

Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point, Rochford
What's Next?
2024 Provision Guide
Epping, Harlow and Uttlesford


The Parents Guide from National Careers Week provides all the information you need to understand the choices available after GCSEs and Sixth Form.

Qualification Levels

Please find below information about the types of qualification you can study.