Skip to content

Address City College Norwich, Ipswich Road, Norwich, NR2 2LJ

01603 773311

What are your options after GCSEs?

22nd August 2017

With all young people in England now required to continue in education or training until the age of 18, what are the main options that are available to you after GCSEs

GCSE retakes

If you did not achieve the GCSE grades you were hoping for at school, for whatever reasons, there are opportunities to retake GCSEs at colleges and with other training providers. 

The Phoenix Plus programme at City College Norwich, for example, runs for one year and enables you to study up to 4 GCSE subjects.  This can then pave the way for progression to A Level study or vocational further education courses. 

Regardless of which post-16 route you follow, it is important to remember that you will be expected to re-take GCSE English and Maths (or a Functional Skills qualification) if you did not achieve a C or above at school in either subject.

Vocational further education courses

If you are attracted to learning that is more practical and hands-on, and linked to an area of work or career that you are interested in, then a full-time vocational course could be the best option.

There is a huge range available to you, covering every major sector, from construction and engineering, to business and finance, computing, performing arts, travel and tourism, catering, sports, and much more.

Vocational courses are available from general further education colleges such as City College Norwich, as well as specialist providers in areas such as music, dance and agriculture.

It is a good idea to visit the provider yourself and to check out the facilities in which you will learn.  The best vocational courses have training environments similar to that which you will find in industry.  They should also have strong links with employers who can provide relevant work experience opportunities to give you a great head-start in the industry.

Plus, there are many fantastic degree opportunities following a vocational course.  Around a third of entrants to Higher Education at 19 studied at a college rather than at school.


If you are keen to get into work and start earning, whilst still developing your skills, then an Apprenticeship might be the best pathway for you.  All Apprenticeships have been designed in conjunction with businesses in that sector to ensure that the skills and qualifications you achieve are both relevant and recognised on a national basis.

A good starting point is to browse current Apprenticeship vacancies.  These can be found on the Apprenticeship Vacancies website:  Colleges and training providers also tend to advertise vacancies locally, such as on the City College Norwich web site.    

A Levels

Last, and by no means least, is the option to study A Levels.  If continuing with classroom-based learning is your preference, and your school has a sixth form, it is understandable that many choose to stay where they are.  It is worth looking around at other sixth forms though, which might offer A Levels and subject combinations that aren’t available in your school.

And don’t forget, too, that A Levels can be studied in Colleges, such as The Sixth Form Centre at City College Norwich, which tend to have a more diverse student body, offer an adult learning environment, and study and social facilities that go beyond what is typically available in most schools.  It is a popular option, with around one in four A Level students studying in a college.

Get Yourself Sorted

City College Norwich still has places available on a wide range of courses (including all of the above routes).  Come along to one of our upcoming enrolment events and we will help get you sorted!

Get Yourself Sorted Days are running at the college’s main Ipswich Road campus on Thursday 31st August (11am-4pm), Friday 1st September (10am-4pm) and on Saturday 9th September (10am-1pm).

Enquirers can also contact City College Norwich’s Advice Shop, which is open from Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm, by calling on (01603) 773 773 or by emailing