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Further education at 16+

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Ten good reasons to choose a FE College course

1. Lots of Choice

Most colleges offer a wide range of courses and qualifications, including; vocational subjects that are related to a broad subject area such as business; vocational courses which prepare students for a specific job, such as hairdressing; courses like GCSEs and A Levels - which can be done on their own or in combination with a vocational course.

Look at a college's website to see the wide range of course on offer.

2. Variety

At well as general courses, college's often have a specialist area

For example, Wiltshire College has a site at Lackham which offers courses in Animal Science and Management, Equine Management, Agriculture and Motor Sports Engineering. Whereas, Bridgwater College offers Fish Husbandry and Management and an Access to Nuclear Apprenticeship Course.

Some colleges specialise in certain subjects such as agriculture, boat building, etc.


3. There is a starting point for everybody

Even if you have few qualifications

Lots of people are successful at college, and get top jobs, even if they did not get good qualifications at school. Although, many courses have set entry requirements, there is a starting point for all students, even if they have none or few qualifications. An interest in the subject you want to take can be as important as your qualifications. For example, a passion for cooking and food could be your passport to a place on a catering course!

4. Progression through different qualifications

At a FE College students can progress from foundation or entry level courses all the way up to degree level and professional qualifications. (see all qualification levels in a table).

Each qualification level will have different entry requirements. You can move from one level to the next level and work your way up to the higher levels (including to higher education).

All full time courses require students to continue learning maths and English towards a qualification such as a GCSE, if they do not have an existing GCSE or equivalent at A*-C grade.

5. Practical Learning

Depending on what course you are doing you may be:

  • learning in a classroom;
  • out visiting an employer;
  • training in realistic work environments such as, engineering workshops, industry standard training restaurants, hair and beauty salons, high tech recording studios, media suites, live performance venues, fitness suites, etc.

As courses like beauty therapy and catering are job related you will be expected to wear a uniform and order your own kit before starting college.

There are still exams and written assignments at college but there will also be many practical assessments where you will be assessed in a realistic work environment.

6. Employability Skills

Many students on FE courses get the opportunity to develop their employability skills through; work experience, visiting employers, pitching an idea to a Dragons Den, or getting help starting their own business.

You might also be invited to take part in World Skills where you compete against other colleges across the UK for a chance to represent the UK in a World Skills event.

7. Help and Support

Colleges are proud of being diverse, inclusive and safe places to learn. There are lots of people who can help you in the college.

  • Your course tutor will spend the first few weeks getting to know you and may meet with you in group tutorials or one to one.
  • The Learning Support Team can help you if you have learning needs or a disability. They can: support you in the classroom; provide one to one help; set up exam arrangements and extra time, etc.
  • Financial Support – if you are on a low income you may be able to get help with the costs associated with coming to college such as travel or childcare. Contact the college for more information.
  • Some colleges have other support staff such as a mentor, counselling service and a college nurse to provide confidential support if you need it.
  • The Careers Advice team in the college can help you decide which direction you want to go in at the end of your course. They can help you develop your CV, practice your interview skills and apply for jobs and Apprenticeships at the end of your course.

8. Great Facilities

Most colleges have great facilities, such as:

Library or Resources Centre

Wi-Fi throughout the campus, pcs, multimedia resources, magazines, books and access to elibrary and elearning resources, from home or college, to help you study.

Food and refreshments
Meet and eat in the friendly atmosphere of various college coffee shops or restaurants.

Student Common Room

For students to relax and socialise. It may have a coffee shop, pool table, table football, music, television, etc.

Other facilities

Depending on what courses the college offers you may have access to a theatre, gym, sports facilities, gardens, cheap haircuts, beauty treatments, etc!

9. Different from school.

  • A full time college course may be only 3 days a week – this can come as a surprise if you have just come from school.
  • You might call your teacher by their first name.
  • Each course will have a different timetable, which may include evenings.
  • You will also be expected to do some independent study in the Learning Resource Centre or at home.

10. Lots of Other Activities

Sign up to get involved in lots of activities such as; the college sports teams, clubs such as film or knitting, volunteer with Duke of Edinburgh and National Citizen Service, stand for election in the Student Union, etc.