For most people under 16, school starts and ends at the same time every day. They go to school five days a week. There are three terms, each with a half-term break. The school year runs from early September to late July.
Post-16 study is different. A full-time ‘study programme’ is roughly 18 hours a week for 16 and 17 year olds, and 16 hours a week after that. It’s usually 3 days per week but may be spread over more days. It doesn’t necessarily start or end at the same time every day. There are usually still three terms, with half-term breaks, but the summer term usually finishes in early July.
What does a post-16 course include?
- A chosen course, which could be anything from Art to Zoology, that might last for one to three years and leads to a qualification
- English and maths, until the student reaches GCSE grade C/4
- Work experience
Different types of post-16 study
Academic - formal learning usually based on theory rather than practical activity. Most people who want to go to university will do academic learning. Employers also value academic qualifications. Examples are GCSEs and A Levels. These are mainly done in schools and sixth form colleges.
Vocational - courses based on practical activities, usually preparing students to work in a particular trade or industry. These qualifications develop skills that apply to real life situations and directly prepare people for employment. They also support independence and like skills. Examples are T Levels, BTECs, NVQs, ASDANs. These are usually done at FE (further education) colleges.
Work based - learning in a work environment. Practical learning based on work experience that may include qualifications that fit that type of work. Some examples are supported internships, traineeships and apprenticeships. These mainly take place in workplaces, but in partnership with a college.
What about special education?
Some people will go to special schools and colleges. The learning week and year will usually be more like being at school. The study programmes usually focus more on life skills and vocational qualifications. Students may progress on to FE college courses, or into work based learning.