Further education (FE)

Types of courses

Courses range from general academic study to courses with a more work-related or vocational focus with some courses preparing young people for a specific job. Here are some examples:-

AS levels are studied for one year and A levels for two years with exams at the end.  They develop knowledge and skills in subjects such as maths, sciences, English (language and literature), art, psychology, etc.  AS levels stand separately from A levels and no longer count as the first year of an A level.  They can be studied alongside more vocational qualifications such as BTECs.

Here are some Top Tips on choosing A level subjects from UCAS.

These are related to particular employment areas such as business, engineering and ICT, with some in more specific job areas such as floristry, electrical/electronic engineering or fish management.  They are available in different unit sizes (extended diploma, diploma, extended certificate and certificate); for instance a BTEC National Diploma is equivalent to two A levels. At level 3 BTECs can be studied alongside A levels.  They are assessed by practical and written assignments, projects and exams.

Here's a Quick guide to BTECs from The Uni Guide.

Similar to BTECs, Cambridge Technicals are offered in some sixth forms and further education colleges.  They are work-related qualifications in subjects such as health and social care, digital media and performing arts.  They are assessed mainly through coursework.

Find out more about Cambridge Technicals in Making the right choices: A guide for parents and students from OCR

T Levels are new 2-year courses designed with employers that are equivalent to 3 A Levels. They combine classroom theory, practical learning and a 45 day industry placement to give young people the technical skills, knowledge and experience needed to get a job in a skilled profession.

The first T Levels started in September 2020 and currently there are ten T Level subjects to choose from (this will rise to a total of 24 courses by 2023).  Currently, only selected  providers are able to deliver T Levels including City College Norwich, Thorpe St Andrew School & Sixth Form, East Norfolk Sixth Form College, the College of West Anglia, East Coast College (and Lowestoft Sixth Form College), Hellesdon High Sixth Form and UTCN  in Norfolk.

Find out more about T Levels from the national T Levels website.

FE courses are available at all levels according to the starting point, needs and ability of the young person.  They prepare young people for the next stage of their learning or for work.


Where can young people study in Norfolk?

FE courses can be taken at further education colleges, school sixth forms, sixth form colleges or sometimes with training providers.

  • Further education (FE) colleges - Norfolk has four FE colleges: City College Norwich, College of West Anglia, Easton College and East Coast College.  FE colleges offer a wide range of courses including academic, vocational and specialist occupational courses.
  • Sixth forms - Norfolk has approximately 30 sixth forms/centres, usually specialising in academic courses like A levels, although some offer vocational courses such as BTECs and the new T levels
  • Sixth form colleges - There's just one sixth form college in Norfolk, East Norfolk Sixth Form College in Gorleston which offers a wide range of A levels, T levels and applied general courses.

Finding and applying for FE courses

You can find out about all courses available in Norfolk's colleges, sixth form colleges and sixth forms, including dates and deadlines for applying on Help You Choose.

Courses are also advertised in individual sixth form or college prospectuses and on their websites.  Links to all of these sites can be found on Help You Choose.

Applications for most colleges, sixth forms and sixth form colleges open from 1st October, although some start recruiting earlier, so it's important to research options early in Year 11.  Some also close to new applications before Christmas so it's important to check deadline dates.


The Russell Group's Informed Choices brings together guidance from admissions teams at Russell Group universities to give young people clear information about the subjects they should consider if they are hoping to progress to a competitive university at 18.  (The Russell Group is the term for a group of 24 universities with a shared focus on research and a reputation for academic achievement).

Find out more about Further Education in the Info & Advice pages of Help You Choose.