What next? Higher Level Education, Advanced or Higher Apprenticeship, a Job, University?

Remember those ambitions and aspirations we talked about in the Further Education section?

Maybe you knew the career pathway you wanted to follow at 16+ and 18+ a while ago? Or maybe you wanted to take more time, try different things, improve your qualifications, or further develop your English, maths and communication skills before deciding which direction to go at age 18?

Still not sure?

Look at the National Careers Service website www.nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk for loads of help with an action plan. This will help you focus the good ideas you already have, give you key facts about a variety of jobs, help you carry out a skills health check, and show you how to build your CV!

Don't forget, aiming higher in education or training doesn't just mean going to university. The term 'higher education' describes courses of study within the 'Framework for Higher Education Qualifications' - so you can achieve a higher education qualification such as a Higher National Certificate (Level 4), an intermediate Higher National Diploma (Level 5) or Foundation Degree (Level 5) at local FE Colleges.

If you do think university is the right place for you, 'A' levels aren't the only way of getting there. To complete an honours degree (Level 6) - all of the above, as well as BTEC Level 3 Diplomas, Level 4 NVQs and advanced and higher apprenticeships, are routes into university because they credit you with a number of UCAS points. You can count points built up from a mixture of these different qualifications to apply through UCAS - (more about UCAS later).

HE Planner - Make sure you look at this to help your planning!

Writing your Personal Statement

Your Personal Statement is your vital opportunity to tell the Admissions Tutor about your suitability for a course. You need to demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment - you need to stand out from the crowd! That doesn't mean you should use inappropriate language though, don't try to be 'quirky' and absolutely do not cheat - Admissions Tutors can recognise copied texts and will not consider you at all if it isn't yours. So what do they want?:

  • A clear, concise well written statement, no spelling mistakes, no repetition, a beginning, middle and end, interesting, varied vocabulary
  • Say why you have chosen this course
  • Demonstrate an understanding of your chosen subject
  • Talk about your current studies with interest
  • Yes again - talk about Ambitions and Aspirations
  • Tell them about your work experience , volunteer work, extra curricular activities
  • Describe examples as evidence of relevant skills, talk about your strengths and interests
  • If you have overcome adversity in some way by being in care, maybe you have a disability or learning difficulty, may be you have learnt English very quickly, explain how that has made you a stronger person - be proud of your achievements

University websites provide guidelines to help you. Draft, redraft, proof read and ask your Carer and teacher to read it and give constructive comments.

Not sure about continuing full time study at 18+? Really want to get a job?

It's not too late to do a higher apprenticeship, which provides an opportunity to gain Level 4 qualifications or above, with most apprentices gaining an NVQ Level 4, HND, or foundation degree. Some offer the opportunity to progress to Level 7 (which is degree level).

A higher apprenticeship can take from one to five years to complete, and involve part-time study at a college, university, or training provider.

According to government figures, 90% of apprentices in England stayed on in employment after completing their qualification; 71% with the same employer.

Entry requirements can include at least five GCSEs grades A* – C (9 – 4 on the new grading system), including English and maths subjects, and Level 3 qualifications, including A levels, NVQs, or a BTEC. Some employers will expect or require applicants to have studied subjects relevant to the apprenticeship.

Competition for higher apprenticeships can be tough — partly because there are often only a limited number of vacancies, but also because school/college leavers and adults already in employment can apply for them. Employers may also be considering applications from existing employees, for the career progression opportunities they can offer.


You may also want to consider degree apprenticeships. These are similar to higher apprenticeships, but differ in that they provide an opportunity to gain a full bachelor's degree (Level 6) or master's degree (Level 7).

Designed in partnership with employers, part-time study takes place at a university or college, with the rest of your time being with your employer.

They can take between three to six years to complete, depending on the course level. Currently, the scheme is only available in England and Wales, although applications may be made from all parts of the UK.

Degree apprenticeships are still quite new, so there are a limited number of vacancies. It's anticipated that the number of vacancies will grow over the next year or two.


'But I just want to get a job, I've been in education all this time, I'm 18 now, I've got some qualifications, I don't need any more and want to be independent!'


Open Days and Useful Contacts

Local University Open Days:

  • DMU - DeMontfort University have several Open Days throughout the year. Their current dates and how to book on to them can be found here.
  • Loughborough University - Their current dates and how to book on to them can be found here.
  • University of Leicester - there are open days throughout June, July, September and October. Full details and the booking form can be found here.
  • Advanced and Higher Apprenticeships - check the websites of companies you're interested in, look out for adverts in local papers and look at the open days for FE Colleges.

Useful contacts are:

http://propel.org.uk/ (Provides comprehensive information about what each University across the Country is able to offer a care leaver)

www.nnecl.org/ (Higher Education Activities and Resources for Care Leavers, Children in Care and Those Who Support Them)