Hounslow Connexions - Careers advice for young people

Qualifications explained

There are lots of different qualifications that young people can take and it is important to know what qualification is right for you and the future careers you are interested in. 

Foundation Learning

Qualifications that are below GCSE (level 2) are Entry level (levels 1-3) and Level 1.  They are sometimes known as Foundation Learning. These courses recognise that there are a large variety of different learners at Entry and Level 1, many with different needs and progression aims. To support this the courses, create personalised programmes to meet these needs and to provide structured skills-based qualifications with clear progression routes for each learner, whether this is into independent living, further education, supported and/or employment.

Foundation learning includes the following:

  • Subject/Vocational learning
  • Functional skills (maths, English and ICT)
  • Personal and Social Development
  • Provision that is accredited wherever possible by the QCF (Qualification and Credit Framework)

For more information on Foundation Learning: Career Alchemy

What is a GCSE? (General Certificate of Secondary Education)

GCSE is the qualification taken by 15- and 16-year olds to mark the end of Year 11 and the Key Stage 4 phase of secondary education in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. It is predominately exam based and is offered in a range of subjects. They are known as a level 2 qualification.

It is graded from 9 being the highest (+ A*) to 1 being the lowest (between an F-G)

For more information GCSEs: General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) graded 9 – 1. Ofqual accredited | UCAS Qualification Information Profiles

What is an A-Level?  (Advanced level qualification)

A-levels are subject based level 3 qualifications, generally taken after GCSEs from age 16-19. They are usually focused on academic subjects and are largely exam based. They are graded from A* to E. They can lead to university, further study, employment, apprenticeships and/or training.

For more information on A-Levels: Understand what A-levels are & what you can do with them (ucas.com)

What is a BTEC? (Business Technology Education Council)

BTECs are practically based vocational qualifications that combine practical learning with subject and theory content. They cover over 2000 qualifications in 16 different sectors. These include applied science, art and design, business, childcare, construction, engineering, media, health and social care, hospitality, ICT, land-based, performing arts, public services, sport, and travel and tourism.  BTECs generally come at three levels, although BTEC apprenticeships can now come in levels 2-5 across 25 different sectors. They can be used to get into higher education, employment, apprenticeships/training.

For more information on BTECs: What is a BTEC diploma? - Nationals, Firsts & Apprenticeships (ucas.com)

T Levels (Technical levels)

T Levels are an alternative to A levels, apprenticeships and other 16 to 19 courses. Equivalent to 3 A levels, a T Level focuses on vocational skills and can help students into skilled employment, higher study or apprenticeships. A 45-day Industry Placement Each T Level includes an in-depth industry placement.

For more information on T Levels: Introduction of T Levels - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

For information on choosing subjects, keeping options open, and for thinking about future subject choices


rating button