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Rising the participation age

The law has changed

From 2015, the Participation Age for young people has raised to aged 18. The purpose of rising the participation age was to provide every young person with more time to develop the skills required for a successful career and working life.

What does this mean?

This refers to the age until which young people must remain in some sort of education or recognised training. Raising the Participation Age is NOT the same as raising the school leaving age - that will stay the same. This means that you will be able to choose the post-16 option that is best for you, whether it's education or training.

You will be able to choose from the following options:

  • full-time education - such as school, college or home-education
  • work-based learning, such as an apprenticeship
  • part-time education or training - you can do this if you are employed, self-employed or volunteering for more than 20 hours a week

Do I have to stay at school?

No. You may still leave school at 16 and access learning through college or work based learning.

Can I train to do a job?

Yes. If you know the career you wish to follow you may choose a specialist training provider. They offer work experience alongside key qualifications specific to that career. Or how about an apprenticeship? There are nearly 200 different job roles available as apprenticeships under which you will be employed to work and also access training either on site or at college.

Where can I learn?

There are many ways to access learning and training. You may choose a further education college or a school 6th form. They all offer different types of qualifications, such as vocational, life and work skills, Foundation Learning as well as a range of GCSE's, AS and A levels. Or you may prefer to gain qualifications while training with an employer.

Can I get any job?

No. You can only get a job if you are also doing some accredited learning alongside it. This may be through an apprenticeship scheme, work-based learning, or you may work part time and attend college outside of your working hours.

Can I earn while I am learning?

Yes, for example the pay for an apprentice may start at £92.50 per week.

So what are my post-16 options?


An apprenticeship means you can work, and earn money, at the same time as training. Lots of skills – from engineering to childcare - are best learnt on the job. Plenty of companies are happy to pay for college courses while you are working for them.

Find out more

A Level and BTEC Courses

Focus on subjects you like and have done well in. At A-Level you will take AS levels in Year 12 and go on to a full A-Level (A2) course into Year 13. The grades achieved prepare you for progression to University or into work.

In BTEC courses you work in ways that apply the learning to real situations. It is more practical in nature. Examples of this are Applied Science and Practical Music Performance. The grade at the end can be equivalent to 3 A-Levels and prepare you for progression to university or into work.

Other further education courses

There are many other courses available through colleges or training providers such as

  • vocational training courses
  • foundation Learning Programmes
  • work-based learning


If you choose to be in work for 20 hours or more you must also continue with accredited learning alongside your employment.

Volunteering for 20+ hours

How about volunteering in an area of interest to you and study independently alongside this worthwhile work?

Find more help with your choices at 16 on Teenwirral