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Sixth Form vs College vs Apprenticeships: How To Plan Your Next Steps

It’s come to the end of school life following completion of your GCSEs and it’s time to take a look at the options available and which one suits you best. With a wide choice available nowadays; it can be a time of great research, anticipation, and also excitement as you take that next leap forward. Whether you’re looking to attend Sixth Form or College to delve further into education with A Levels and BTECs; or potentially widen your horizons with an apprenticeship, there’s no right or wrong answer. There are many benefits to each path to take you on your new journey and a great career.

Sixth Form

Sixth Form is often an extension of a number of schools where the location, teachers and friends will all be familiar. Not all schools have this option so it’s worth taking a look around to see which one offers the benefits you want - perhaps the Sixth Form at your current school doesn’t offer a particular course you’re looking to enrol in. They vary in size and facilities so make sure to do your research when looking at Year 12 and 13 options. Also, if you’re striving to become more independent in your personal life then there are a number of establishments such as Rendcomb College, that offer boarding facilities whilst completing your A Levels. Boarding means that you’ll study, socialise and live with your friends and colleagues, potentially helping to make connections for the future, which can be useful when applying for work experience before making your next step into adult life. Plus, if you’re staying at your current school, the surroundings will be familiar and you’ll already feel right at home.


In comparison to Sixth Form where you’ll still see young people around, College offers more of an adult environment and may feel more relaxed. You will feel like you have a more mature approach to learning and responsibilities than you may have done at Secondary School. There are a number of Colleges across the country that offer specialist BTEC courses in sports and the performing arts, as well as those that carry a great reputation in certain subjects that can be a great help when applying for university courses. At College there are also plenty of opportunities to expand your horizons with extra-curricular activities to explore different options, from on-site student radio stations to clubs and activities. School Sixth Form and Colleges alike will help you with UCAS applications for university and help you fulfil their entry requirements with upcoming exams and coursework.


Designed for 16-24 year olds, an apprenticeship provides practical on the job learning whilst fulfilling the desire to get into the jobs market as soon as you finish your GCSEs. With combined practical and classroom based learning at a college or training centre, apprenticeships offer the best of both worlds.You’ll be ahead of the curve and working at the age of 16 straight from school, where you’ll build your career and earn a wage in the meantime. There are four tiers to an apprenticeship; Intermediate (level 2), Advanced (level 3 qualifications), Higher and Degree Apprenticeships (level 6/7) where you could be earning a salary of up to £25,000. Degree Apprenticeships can sometimes provide the added bonus of paying for your studies. There is great progression within an apprenticeship and companies across the UK can offer a wealth of experienced professionals, who can pass on their knowledge and guidance.

Each option presents many advantages and there are a number of ways to help you decide. Going to open days is a great way to get a feel for the education provider or reaching out to a company that you would like to take on an apprenticeship with. Have an honest and open conversation to get to know them better. After all, this is the start of your next step in the world. Hopefully leading to a career by giving you more experience, skills and knowledge. Whether you decide to continue studies at school, college or through an apprenticeship, this will prepare you to progress further towards your career.

At Rendcomb College we pride ourselves on providing our pupils with the skills, experience and knowledge to take ownership of their academic lives after completing their GCSEs. We encourage them to follow their passions and will guide them in the right direction to help them progress into their future career and carry out fulfilling adult lives.

To find out more about our Sixth Form, please visit our dedicated Sixth Form page.