Skip to main content

What is Further Education? 

"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education." 
Martin Luther King Jnr

If you are commencing your due diligence into educational options after GCSE, you will begin to see the letters FE and HE more and more frequently.

Further Education refers to educational choices made after your 16th birthday.

FE covers all qualifications lower than a degree.

In 2014, it became compulsory for all students to continue in one form of further education or another until their 18 birthday. If staying on at school does not appeal then there are plenty of alternatives such as a sixth form college, an independent FE provider or institution and finally, you could consider an apprenticeship program.

Further Education, options after GCSE, apprenticeship, training

The accepted forms of Further Education for 16+ are:

A Levels
Considering what A Levels to take when you are just 15 years old can be hard, we know that.  It is also important to make sure that when you make choices that you keep as many of your options open.

Art Foundation Diploma Course
This is a BTEC vocational course that is for school leavers wishing to either test the water and see if they like studying Art or is for students who are certain that they want to complete a BA in Fine Art. 

BTEC Nationals
BTEC Nationals, otherwise known as The Business and Technology Education Council qualification, are overseen by Pearson.  For students who want to hone practical skills and theory simultaneously while being tested, largely, by continuous assessment, they are an ideal choice.

Many people will know BTEC Highers by the acronym HNC, Higher National Certificate and HND, Higher National Diploma.

National Vocational Qualifications in the past have received bad press, but they do what they say on the tin and are excellent vocational qualifications for certain fields.

Technical Baccalaureate (TechBac)
Newly introduced in 2014, the TechBac are practical, vocational, courses run by the City and Guilds aimed at 16-19-year-olds wanting technical qualifications and soft skills. Soft skills refer to personal skills essential in the workplace such as how you communicate, can you adapt, take criticism, solve problems, listen and learn by observation. 

University Technical College (UTC)
There are a number of alternatives to mainstream school. University Technical Colleges and TechBac provide courses which are taught at local colleges. These may suit students looking for traditional academic learning combined with practical skills. A certain number of previous qualifications such as a GCSE or BTEC are required to be eligible for enrollment. 




Related articles

  • The Good Schools Guide: Careers

    For nearly 30 years the Good Schools Guide has provided trusted help and advice to parents, helping them with one of the most important questions they face - choosing the right school for their child. The Good Schools Guide: Careers (GSGC) is a natural development of that help, aimed at young people and their parents as they consider the future.

  • Personal Development Programmes

    Apart from having excellent career staff - essential guides to an unknown land - careers departments should offer lots of Careers development. These are programmes and opportunities where and through which you can learn about careers; opportunities to experience work, involving real employers or other outside experts.

  • Parental influence on their offspring's career choices

    Any parent who doubts their influence on their child’s career choices need only turn to Google to discover just how wrong they are. Report after report reveals that parents play a major role in their offspring’s decision-making about careers and even more so about their choice of university. But there’s a difference between giving your child a helping hand in finding their own way and elbowing your way in and taking over completely. So how can parents get the balance right and best guide their offspring into the world of work?

  • Apprenticeship interview: Building Spacecraft

    Building spacecraft is one of those careers that even little kids dream of. No wonder Amy Palmer grins from ear to ear when she talks about her apprenticeship, which focuses on constructing satellites – earth observation satellites, navigation satellites and weather satellites among them.

  • Ace educational acronyms

    Acronyms may make communication speedier for insiders but they confuse, irritate and deter the uninitiated.

Subscribe for instant access to in-depth reviews, data and catchment:

30,000 Independent, state and special schools in our parent-friendly interactive directory.
 School exam results by subject and performance GCSE, A level or equivalent.
 Which schools pupils come from and go onto.
 Honest, opinionated and fearless independent reviews of over 1,000 schools.
Comprehensive catchment maps for English state schools by year of entry.
School data comparison by results, relative success and popularity.
 Independent tutor company reviews.

Try before you buy - The Charter School Southwark

The Good Schools Guide subscription

 GSG Blog >    In the news >

The Good Schools Guide newsletter

The Good Schools Guide Newsletter

Educational insight in your inbox. Sign up for our popular newsletters.

The debate continues...



The fifth issue of Chalk & Chat, The Good Schools Guide’s exciting digital magazine, is out now.