Teens going to school


Choices at 16

You’ve got your whole life ahead of you. And you could do anything with it. Exciting, right? Well…yeah. But also stressful. Particularly when there’s so many different paths you could take. And everyone thinks they know which one is best for you. 

Maybe they’re right? Or maybe you’ve got other ideas? Either way, knowing your options will help make sure you’re choosing what’s right for you. 

That’s what this page is all about. Taking you through the options and helping you find the information you need to decide on your next step.

What are your choices after Year 11?

You can choose to:-

Don't forget that whatever choice you make you must stay in education or training until you are 18.



Click on each of the sections below to find out more about your choices at 16. 

Graphic images - ThinkstockPhotos-179335356When it comes to making your post-16 choices it helps to be prepared. Here are some pointers to get you started.

Do your research

As you explore your choices it's a good idea to talk to your teachers, parents and friends about what you are interested in doing and your plans for the future.  You can also talk to your school's Careers Leader or Careers Adviser as they'll be able to give you impartial advice and guidance about your future plans.

You can also use the resources available in the Info & Advice pages to help you with your research.

As you have to stay in education or training until you are 18, you should think carefully about the following:

  • Do you want to stay in full-time education?
  • Do you want to work and study part-time?
  • Do you want to study subjects you enjoy already or look for something new?
  • Do you want to train for a definite career or keep your options open?

You should also think about what you want to be doing in 5 or 10 years time, as your future plans may affect the choices you need to make this year.

Take a look at the Year 11 calendar that will help you with your research.  It's broken down into each term of Year 11 and shows you what you need to do and when.


Staying in learning until the age of 18

Don't forget that although you have to stay in education or training until you are 18 this doesn't mean that you have to stay on at school.

All 16 and 17 year olds in Norfolk are guaranteed an offer of an appropriate place in learning through the September guarantee.  This means that you'll definitely be able to continue learning after Year 11 whether you go on to sixth form, college, an apprenticeship, traineeship or work with training.

By doing this you gain more skills and qualifications which increases your future employment prospects and will help you to earn more over your lifetime.

During Year 11 you should receive information, advice and guidance to help you weigh up your options and decide which is the most appropriate learning route for you so that you have an offer of learning by the end of September (after you have finished Year 11).


Have a back-up plan

Even if you know what you want to do, it's a good idea to think about other choices in case things don't work out the way you planned.   This is particularly important if you're aiming for a very popular course or career.

You may need to change your plans particularly if there are no places available on your chosen course or you're finding it difficult to find an apprenticeship or job in what you want to do; so having an alternative to fall back on is always a good idea.

Some key things to note when planning your future:

  • career development is a lifelong journey
  • the world of work is always changing
  • having one job for life is becoming less common
  • you will have a number of opportunities to change jobs, learn new skills and gain new experience throughout your career
  • it's important to keep learning and developing your skills and abilities throughout your life.

Use this termly calendar to help you plan what to do and when during Year 11.

Things to do in the Autumn Term


Things to do in the Spring Term


Things to do in the Summer Term

  • If you haven't yet made any plans ask your school's careers leader or adviser for help
  • Keep applying for apprenticeships, training and courses
  • Think about doing some voluntary work or work experience during the summer, or even seeing if you can get a summer job
  • Keep trying speculative applications

300 x 300 photos - Worried 2With some big decisions to make, you may feel overwhelmed by how much there is to think about.  Try not to worry as there is plenty of support available to help you with making your choices. Here's some suggestions of ways that you can get more help and advice.

At school

Your tutor, subject teachers and school's careers leader or careers adviser may be able to give you some advice on your choices and what studying is like at a higher level.  They can also help you with completing application forms for jobs and courses.


Sixth forms, colleges and training providers

Sixth forms, colleges and training providers have open days and/or evenings.  Some also have taster days where you can go along to get a real feel of what it might be like to study certain subjects.  This all gives you the chance to have a look around and talk to staff and students about the courses you're interested in.  All sixth forms, colleges and other providers produce prospectuses and other information, particularly on their own websites, telling you about what they offer.


Careers helpline for teenagers

The National Careers Service provides confidential information and advice about jobs, careers and training.

You can get in touch with an adviser by phone or text:

  • Phone 0800 100 900
  • Text 07766 413219

Advisers are available every day, from 8am to 10pm.

Calls are free from landlines and most mobile numbers.  You can ask an adviser to ring you back on your mobile or landline.


Family and friends

Your family and friends are the people who know you best and it can be really useful to talk to them about your plans.

They know what you're like and what kind of a person you are, but remember, what is right for your friends may not be right for you.


Other useful websites

The following offer advice on careers, education and apprenticeships that you may find useful in helping you to make choices.

National Careers Service - click on 'Explore careers' for information on over 800 different types of job.  Find out about what skills and qualifications you need, what the work involves, the pay you could expect and career prospects.

Apprenticeships Guide - a guide to apprenticeships and how you can apply by registering and searching for opportunities online.

GOV.UK - website of the UK government which contains lots of information on all sorts of topics.  You'll find the 'Education and learning' and 'Working, jobs and pensions' sections of most use to you.

icanbea... - is a social media styled careers website which is designed to help you choose your future career from the massive amount of opportunities available here in Norfolk, Suffolk and beyond.  

icould - an online library of careers videos and written articles.  The site features over 1000 videos of real people talking about their careers - explaining their job role, career path and how different factors have shaped their choices.  You can filter videos by job type or subject and they cover a range of sectors and levels.

Careers software

There are various careers software programs available, such as JED (Job Explorer Database) or Kudos which your school might provide.  Many of them will ask you questions about your work-related interests and produce a list of suggested career ideas.  You can then find our more about each of them including what qualifications you might need and what you will earn.

Ask your school's careers leader or careers adviser what software programs you can use.


Social networking

If you have a Facebook, Twitter or other social media account you might want to use them to chat to your friends about your ideas.  300 x 300 photos - social networking

There are some specialist chat rooms about learning and careers such as The Student Room The Student Room also features lots of articles on a range of topics such as choosing what to study, qualifications, apprenticeships, study help and careers.

Remember to be careful when using online forums and chatrooms.  Never give out any personal information such as your phone number, address or where you go to school.

For advice about staying safe online, visit CEOP and/or Childnet

Want to join the Armed Forces?

The Army, RAF, Navy and Marines offer a variety of bursary and scholarship schemes to young people.  These can be very competitive and you need to show a real commitment to wanting to study as well as entering the forces.  To find out more:


Help You Choose Keeping in Touch team300 x 300 photos - Helpline telephonist

Norfolk County Council is required to keep in regular contact with you between the ages of 16 and 19 to offer you support to help you get into education, training or work.

This means that from time to time you will be called by our Help You Choose Keeping in Touch team just to check that everything's going well for you.  If you do need support, we are here to help!

Call us on 0344 800 8022