Post 16 Pathways


What is a Sixth Form College?

Sixth Form Colleges generally offer A-Level courses. Students would normally choose 3-4 A-Level courses to be completed over a two year period. Students are required to have achieved 4 Grade 4s including English and Maths in order to secure a place at either Rochdale Sixth Form College or Oldham Sixth Form College.

Course subjects

Subjects offered at Sixth Form Colleges are much the same as are studied in school but are of a higher level. There is also the opportunity to study other subjects such as Law, Psychology and Sociology. Some Sixth Form Colleges do offer vocational courses as well as A-Level courses and this information is normally given in their prospectus and on their College website.


What is a Further Education (FE) College?

FE colleges generally offer vocational (work-related) and specialist qualifications. They tend to provide courses for 16-18 year olds as well as adult learners, and often have close links with the community.

Course subjects

FE colleges offer a wide range of courses at a variety of levels. Each college is different, so you will need to check with your chosen college what courses are available. As a guide, the type of subjects on offer include:

FE Colleges often offer courses such as English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) to help students develop their English Language skills.

Course and qualifications levels

Popular courses include NVQs, BTECs, Apprenticeships, Foundation Degrees, HNCs and HNDs. If you didn’t do well at school, Entry Level Courses generally offer another opportunity to gain qualifications and enable you to go on to study further college courses at a higher level


Traineeships are an ideal opportunity for young people, aged 16 to 24, who are motivated to get a job but lack the skills and experience that employers are looking for.

Those who have been unsuccessful when applying for an apprenticeship or other job due to a lack of skills and experience are most likely be good candidates for a traineeship.

Traineeship opportunities are advertised regularly on the government under find a traineeship


Apprenticeships combine practical training in a job with study.

As an apprentice you’ll:

Apprenticeships take 1 to 5 years to complete depending on their level.

Levels of apprenticeship

Apprenticeships have equivalent educational levels.

Name Level Equivalent Education Level
Intermediate 3 GCSE
Advanced 3 A-Level
Higher 4,5,6 and 7 Foundation degree and above
Degree 6 and 7 Bachelor's or master's degree

Some apprenticeships may also give you an additional qualification, such as a diploma.

Who can apply

You can apply for an apprenticeship while you’re still at school. To start one, you’ll need to be:

How to apply

There are 3 steps to applying for an apprenticeship.

  1. Search for an apprenticeship
  2. Sign in or create an account.
  3. Complete and submit your application.

The National Careers Service has advice on writing applications and what to do at interviews.

If you’re unsuccessful

You can ask for feedback if you don’t get selected for an interview or for the apprenticeship.

You can complain if you think you weren’t successful because you were discriminated against, or your treatment in the interview or application process was unfair.

Apprenticeship helpline
Telephone: 0800 015 0400
8am to 10pm, 7 days a week
Find out about call charges