What is further education?

Studying after the age of 16 is often called ‘further education’.  It is what most young people do full-time after Year 11.

Further education is any course leading to a qualification at Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3.

Level 1 qualifications

GCSEs D-G
BTEC Level 1
OCR Cambridge Nationals Level 1
NVQ 1
Functional Skills

Level 2 qualifications

GCSE (A*-C)
BTEC Firsts
OCR Cambridge Technicals/Nationals Level 2
NVQ 2

Level 3 qualifications

A levels
AS levels
AQA Baccalaureate (AQA Bacc)
BTEC Nationals
OCR Cambridge Technicals Level 3
NVQ 3

Find out more about these qualifications in the Help You Choose – What to study?

There are lots of places that offer further education in Norfolk.

School sixth forms / centres

Norfolk has approximately 30 sixth forms / centres

Sixth form colleges – Norfolk has two sixth form colleges

  • East Norfolk Sixth Form College
  • Paston Sixth Form College

Further education colleges – Norfolk has four further education colleges

  • City College Norwich
  • College of West Anglia
  • Easton and Otley College
  • Great Yarmouth College

Other Norfolk further education providers

There are several providers in Norfolk who offer Level 2 and Level 3 courses in specialist areas such as art and design, music, musical theatre, media, creative IT and computing and others who offer study programmes in various work related options like engineering, childcare and performing arts.

Further education colleges outside of Norfolk

If you live on the border of Norfolk you may also wish to consider colleges in our neighbouring counties:

  • Lowestoft College
  • West Suffolk College, Bury St Edmunds

Specialist colleges outside of Norfolk

You may wish to consider specialist colleges, such as dance and drama schools, or colleges offering courses for students with a disability or learning difficulty.  Find out more by speaking to your school careers co-ordinator, careers adviser and if you have an EHC plan, you will also need to talk to your EHCP coordinator.

To find out more about all of these further education providers and their courses is Help You Choose – 6th Form and College courses

There are lots of different types of qualifications and subjects to choose from in further education, and they can be broken down into four main groups:

Specialist SEND courses

There are a wide range of specialist SEND courses in Norfolk for young people who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). These are mainly available in our FE colleges and special schools with sixth forms. You can find out what is available by searching Help You Choose SEND

Academic qualifications (A levels)

These focus on in-depth study of particular subjects some of which you may have studied at GCSE and others may be new to you.   

Applied general qualifications (BTEC and OCR qualifications)

These cover broad job related areas to give you an introduction to an area of work such as travel and tourism, engineering, health and social care.  They give you the chance to do practical learning alongside academic study.

Vocational or technical qualifications (NVQ, Diplomas, some BTEC and OCR qualifications)

These are for you if you know what you want to do. They focus on an area of work or job and are assessed through coursework and practical, work-based tasks.

The qualification and grades you need depends on the level of study you are aiming for.

Level 1 courses

These may have names such as Entry, Foundation or Introductory and often require a good report from your school or college – really wanting to do the course is important too.

Level 2 courses

Usually ask for some Cs or Ds at GCSE and an interest in the subject is important too.

Level 3 courses

You will usually need at least 4 GCSEs at grade C or better and sometimes certain grades in certain subjects are required if you wish to continue to study them at a higher level.

You will be able to see the exact entry requirements for each course on Help You Choose.

All post-16 course providers have open events and evenings giving you the chance to have a look around and speak to teachers, tutors and current students.

It is important to ask questions, the answers you get will help you make the right choice.

Use Help You Choose – Events to find out when the open days and events in Norfolk are.

You will find all the information and instructions about how to apply for courses on the Help You Choose website.

Was this webpage helpful?