What are the options?
When you are in Years 10 and 11 you will need to make plans for once you leave Thamesmead. It is important that you make the best choice for you. The main options you will need to choose from are: A levels, BTECs, apprenticeships/traineeships.
It is really important that you check the entry requirements for not only your intended college, but for the individual courses/subjects too; for some subjects (often maths and physics) a grade 6 at GCSE is required in order to study further. For some BTEC courses, subject grades at GCSE may determine whether you begin a level 1 or level 2 course.
Usually you will study 3 subjects over two years, which will be tested at the end of the two year course. These are academic, require a lot of independent study and reading, essays, revision and for many can represent a big challenge. You need a minimum grade 4 in English Language and Maths (though some colleges stipulate a 5), and usually grade 5 or 6 in your chosen subjects to progress to A-level. A-levels keep your options open and are the usual route into university or higher (degree level) apprenticeships. It is important to make sure that the choice of A-levels is ‘fit for purpose’, and doing some research for A-levels for university courses is important. For example, there are some degrees and university courses which require you to have very specific A levels. It is definitely worth looking at course on UCAS to find out this information.
A BTEC is where you learn about a subject and how it relates to an industry, building your knowledge and skill through theory and coursework projects, but also through lots of practical learning activities. A BTEC course usually fills the timetable so only one is chosen. There are different levels of BTEC depending on the GCSE grades and you can generally progress from one level to another. BTECS are typically assessed through project/coursework, and sometimes exams too.
Apprenticeships are training-centred routes and are available in a vast range of sectors from construction to banking, catering to sales. Some of our previous students have undertaken some fascinating apprenticeships with film companies, legal companies, even in the House of Lords.
Typically you will be in a work place most of the time, though there is an element of study which is often (not always) taught at a college. Most apprenticeships pay a small wage and have good working conditions attached to them. They tend to become advertised from February each year when National Apprenticeship Week takes place, though are increasingly being advertised throughout the year.
Some apprenticeships require you to be registered onto a particular college and a particular course, for example, British Airways recruit their engineering apprentices from a particular course at Kingston College. Check this sort of information before applying.
Local post-16 options
Heathside School, Weybridge (6th Form):
Richmond Upon Thames College:
Salesian School, Chertsey (6th form):
St Paul’s Catholic College (6th form):
Strode’s College, Egham:
Three Rivers Academy (6th form):
Apprenticeships can be found in a variety of places, including directly on employers’ website. If there is a particular employer that you would like an apprenticeship with, it is definitely worth contacting them directly to see if they offer this. Some organisations or shops advertise in their windows, or in local papers etc.
Alternatively, you can find apprenticeships here: