Education options for over 16s

This guide covers the educational opportunities available within the City of Westminster.

1. Further education

After taking your GCSEs (Level 2 qualifications), you could move on to Level 3 qualifications, either by staying on in school or going to college. 

If you didn't get a C grade or above in GCSE English and maths, you must continue to study them in school or college, along with whatever else you decide to do.

The courses at Level 3 are A levels (mainly to qualify you for university) and vocational qualifications (to qualify you for a job).

You can take a mixture, but if you are thinking of going to university, you'll usually have to have at least one A level. Many universities will require more than one.

A levels

A lot of university degrees will be open to you whichever A level subjects you decide to take. Other will require very specific A levels - for example, medicine and dentistry degrees will require science A levels.

The top universities prefer students to have two 'facilitating subjects'. These subjects are: 

•    Mathematics and further mathematics
•    English literature
•    Physics
•    Biology
•    Chemistry
•    Geography
•    History 
•    Languages (classical and modern)

It's best to look at the detailed entry criteria given by the universities for each degree course you think you might be interested in. 

Vocational qualifications

These Level 3 courses are usually done in college. They include:

•    Advanced Apprenticeships
•    BTEC Extended Diploma
•    NVQ Level 3

These qualifications will give you practical work skills that employers will value when you apply for a job.

The next step will give you a full list of Westminster sixth forms and colleges.

3. University and postgraduate courses

Westminster has its own university - but of course, you may want to study somewhere else.

For more information, take a look at the websites listed below:

4. Financial help

The type of financial help you can get will depend on your circumstances. 

16 to 19 Bursary Fund

If you need financial support to stay in education or training after the age of 16, you can apply at your chosen school, college or training provider for the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund

The following people are eligible for a bursary of £1,200 a year:

  • young people who are in care
  • care leavers
  • young people who receive Income Support or Universal Credit
  • disabled young people who receive both Employment Support Allowance and Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) 

Other young people who are facing financial difficulties may be able to claim a bursary to help with the cost of food, equipment or other course-related costs. 

Most schemes are based on your household income and the school will decide on the amount you will receive, when it is paid, and what conditions you will need to agree to. 

Schools and colleges may also operate their own financial support schemes. 

16-plus Oyster photocard

For free travel on London buses and trams, make sure you apply for a 16-plus Oyster photocard. With a 16-plus Zip Oyster photocard you can also: 

•    buy child-rate 7-day, monthly or longer-period travelcards and bus and tram passes
•    Pay-as-you-go at half the adult rate on bus, Tube, tram, DLR (Docklands Light Railway), London Overground and most National Rail services in London

If you are 18 or over, you live in a London borough and you are in the first year of an approved apprenticeship, you may be eligible for an Apprentice Oyster photocard

Free school meals

School sixth forms and further education institutions are required to provide you with a free meal if you or your parents are in receipt of certain benefits. You will need to claim, so remember to ask your school or college when you enrol. 

Free childcare

The Care to Learn scheme can help with childcare costs while you study.

You must be aged under 20 at the start of your course, be the main carer for your child and attending a qualifying course at school sixth form or college, and your childcare provider must be registered with Ofsted. 

If you qualify, your payments (£175 per child per week) will be made directly to your childcare provider to help with the cost of childcare. 

Student Finance

For detailed information on applying for Student Finance, including maintenance loans, maintenance grants, tuition fee loans and supplementary grants, please read the GOV.UK guide.

General advice about money and finance

You can get advice on money and finance especially for young people on the Money Advice Service website.

Download the money advice toolkit

5. Useful websites

Last updated 09 September 2019

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