Further education courses can help you gain the skills you need to go on in to further education, get a job or become more independent.

Further education courses might be run by a college, a sixth form college or another type of provider. The courses are often last for 1 to 3 years. Disabled young people and those with special educational needs might need more support to complete a course.

'You can leave school on the last Friday in June if you’ll be 16 by the end of the summer holidays.  You must then do one of the following until you’re 18: 1) stay in full-time education, for example at a college, 2) start an apprenticeship or traineeship, 3) spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training.'    (www.gov.uk/know-when-you-can-leave-school)


What level are further education courses and what qualification will I get?

There are lots of courses of different levels available in Bristol.  The aim of every course, no matter what level, should be about making progress in developing new skills. The different level of courses is explained below:

Pre entry level

Student on these courses will often have high support needs. Most students on these courses will previously have been in special schools. The courses usually look at developing independence skills.

Entry level courses - 1, 2 & 3

On these courses there is a high level of support and students are usually developing life skills and possibly with some vocational skills. Most students will have been working on P-levels (before National Curriculum levels).

Level 1 courses

These courses are for young people who have developed functional skills and are looking to gain qualifications like GCSEs, Level 1 NVQs and Level 1 Diplomas.

Level 2 courses

Young people on these courses will be ready to gain qualifications like BTEC Diplomas, more GCSEs, and Intermediate Level Apprenticeships.

Level 3 courses

On these courses young people will be working towards qualifications like A-Levels and apprenticeships.

After a Level 3 course you might go onto a Higher Education course, which are University level courses or employment. 

Every course is designed to help you get a qualification or reach an outcome at the end of it.  At the start of any course you should be aware of what the qualification or outcomes a young person is aim to reach by the end of the course.  Being able to tell whether you have met the qualification or outcome of the course will depend on the course you are on.  This could be through an exam at the end of the course or it might be by the course tutor looking at the progress a young person has made throughout the course.

How do I get on a further education course?

Almost all courses will have 'entry requirements' for students to meet to be able to get a place on a the course.  The 'entry requirements' are the level of learning or skills and understanding you need to have to be on a course.  Every course publishes their entry requirements with their course details.

Some courses will also have a cost or fee for you to be able to get a place.  If there is a cost to a course this will be included in the course details.

To find a course in Bristol look at the Post 16 Directory.


If you do not achieve a grade C or better in GCSE maths or English by the end of key stage 4 you will need to carry on carry on studying these, at school, college or as an apprentice.  No institution will receive public funding to teach you up to the age of 19 unless you continue to work towards achieving Level 2 in maths and English.


What support might I be able to get on a course?

If you're 16 to 19 years old you may be able to claim money (a bursary) for you or your college/training provider to use to meet the cost of clothing, equipment or lunch on study days.

Find out the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund.

Some young people may need support to be able to access their course and may need an Education, Health and Care plan. An Education, Health and Care plan will make sure that the young person gets the right support on a course that helps them meet their aspiration and reach their employment goals.

Find out about Education, Health and Care plans.

Settings, like colleges, can access additional funding (up to the age of 19) to make sure a young person has the support they need to do well on their course.

Find out about additional funding for Post 16 settings.

Disability Rights UK have information on some of the common questions from disabled students.


Who can help me choose the right course for me?

Your school SENCo (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) will be able to talk to you about what further education course might be the right for you.

Every school must provide independent careers advice.  Careers advice can help you think about what course or skills you might need to reach your employment goal.  Ask your setting about how they're providing careers advice. 


This page has information for residents in the City of Bristol.  Find out about what other Local Authorities do.

Last Update 1 December 2016 by Findability Team.

We make sure we keep information on Findability as up to date as we can.  If you think this page is out of date or inaccurate please contact us on sendplus@bristol.gov.uk.  Findability is not responsible for the content of external websites.