Many Cumbrian students will be getting their GCSE results today and considering which step to take next.

Students need to stay in education or training until the end of the school year when they turn 17. However, there are many options available to young people which doesn't necessarily mean that they have to stay in school.

Sixth Form

One option after GCSEs is to go to sixth form, either at a current school or another in the area. Many will offer AS and A2 levels in academic subjects such as science and English. Other sixth forms and further education colleges may offer a wider range of courses, including vocational qualifications.

Click here to find courses and qualifications in your area for 14- 19 year-olds.

To find out more about sixth form young people could talk to current students and teachers, friends or family or attend open days.

In sixth form the environment may be familiar but will grant more responsibility. For example, students will be expected to motivate themselves to do homework and study in their free time without being encouraged by a teacher. Find out more about sixth form here.

For options on how to speak to a career's advisor from the National Careers Service click here.

Vocational qualifications

Vocational qualifications are different to GCSEs and A-levels and allow people to learn in a workplace environment. These qualifications are awarded in different levels, from entry level to level 7. Level 2 is the equivalent of A*-C grades at GCSE and level 3 is the equivalent of an A-level.

This type of qualification can help with skills that are needed for a job in areas such as construction, business and management or hair and beauty. They're often assessed by practical assignments rather than exams.

Find out more on the UCAS website by clicking here.


Apprenticeships offer the chance to learn whilst working. They can take between one to four years to complete and cover over 1000 different job roles, from veterinary nursing, engineering or financial advice. If a student lives in England, are over 16-years-old and not in full time education, they can apply.

It won't cost anything providing the student is under 24-years-old and could earn around £170 a week.

For more information, click here.

Click here to discover the different types of apprenticeships.


Traineeships give people a chance to build up work experience and skills for those who may not feel ready for an apprenticeship. It's estimated there are are 170 industries with 1400 different job roles that offer a traineeship or apprenticeship.

They offer work experience and training as you work, including developing skills for a future job such as time-keeping, interview skills and job searching. Some may offer the chance to study maths and English.

Traineeships can last between six weeks to six months. Although most traineeships are unpaid, the 16-19 Bursary Fund could help but depends on circumstances.

Click here to find out more about traineeships.

Credit: PA

Supported internships

Supported internships are for 16-24 year-olds with learning disabilities or learning difficulties.

It allows students to learn in a workplace, study for qualifications or other training and gain skills needed for work. Although internships are unpaid, they help a student work towards getting a paid job at the end of the programme. They are expected to last for at least six months.

Click here for more information on supported internships.

For more information on options after GCSEs, visit the following pages: