GCSE School Leaver Options and Opportunities

Deciding what to do after your GCSEs can be a huge dilemma. You might think that A Levels are your only choice, or that your poor GCSE results mean you can’t continue with further education, but that is not the case. There are plenty of options out there and, regardless of what you get in your GCSEs, you can still continue to learn and gain qualifications.

What can I do with my GCSEs?

Option One: Academic qualifications

One of the most obvious routes after GCSEs is to do A-levels, or International Baccalaureate if you attend King Williams College. A Level take 2 years to complete, and are the most traditional route to university. If your GCSE grades aren’t up to scratch A Levels might not be the best route to take. Less traditional qualifications may be more suited to your style of learning.

Generally A Level students are required to have a minimum of five GCSEs grade A*-C and at least a B in the subject they wish to continue studying at A-level; although there are exceptions to this rule. 

Option Two: Vocational qualifications

NVQs and BTECs are work-related qualifications that are an alternative to A Levels. The Isle Of Man College offers a wide range of vocational qualifications from Business Administration to Health & Social Care. For more information about vocational qualification available at the Isle of Man College please see the resources section below.

BTEC Nationals are a Level 3 qualification recommended for those who have achieved at least four A*-C grades in their GCSEs. They are a great option if you want to study something that focuses on workplace skills. They’re also ideal if you prefer to be assessed through coursework rather than exams.

NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) is a competence-based qualification. You might do one as part of an apprenticeship, alongside a part-time job or at college in tandem with completing a work placement.

Option Three: Advanced Apprenticeships

Advanced Apprenticeships are great if you want to start working after your GCSEs and gain some work-related qualifications. You work for an employer and earn a salary whilst receiving on-the-job and off-the-job training. In most cases, you’ll need at least five GCSEs (grades A* to C) to be eligible for an Advanced Apprenticeship. If you don’t have those grades, you can look into doing an Intermediate Apprenticeship.

Advanced Apprenticeships usually last between one and four years. After the apprenticeships ends, many employers offer their apprentices a full-time job with the company, or you can look to gain employment with another company or progress to a Higher Apprenticeship. For more information about apprenticeships, and what apprenticeships are available to undertake on the Island, please see the resources section below.

Option Four: Retake your GCSEs

If your English and Maths grades were not great at GCSE (i.e. below a grade C), you might want to consider retaking them. For many jobs and qualifications these GCSEs, in particular, are very important, so it should not be seen as taking a step back. 

If you decide to go straight into work, you can gain qualifications alongside full-time employment.


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In collaboration with Departments of the Isle of Man Government