What is Further Education?
Further Education (FE) includes any study after secondary education that isn’t part of higher education. FE covers a wide range of levels and types of courses. Courses can be academic or vocational (i.e. focused on work) and can be anything from learning that you do for your own interest, through to courses which give you a formal qualification (e.g. an Advanced Apprenticeship or A Level). It can take place in an FE or sixth form college, in the workplace or even in your own home. This website aims to give you more information about FE courses and training so you can decide if this is the right option for you.
What is FE like?
FE is very different to school or compulsory education. You can choose what you study and you will be likely to have a lot more freedom and control over how and when you learn. Depending on what kind of course you choose, you could be learning in a classroom with a group of other students, getting trained on the job, or learning independently at your own pace. In all of these scenarios, you will have the opportunity to develop your skills and interests and be a lot more independent than when you were at school.
What are the options in FE?
There are lots of different ways that you can study in FE. When choosing how and where to study an FE course, think about what kind of setting and type of programme would suit you best. Do you want to go to sixth form or college and be taught in a classroom, or would you rather do an apprenticeship and learn on the job? You might not be interested in doing a qualification, in which case community learning might be the best option for you, or you could do some volunteering to get some experience. Online courses can also be a lot more flexible and help you manage learning alongside other commitments, like work, childcare and housework.
Support for care leavers in FE
Different FE providers will also offer different levels of support for young people who have been in care. Some will have a named person who is the lead for supporting care leavers – you could contact them directly to find out what they offer. Some colleges and sixth forms hold an award in recognition of the good support they provide to care leavers. This award is known as the Quality Mark for Care Leavers. The Quality Mark is no longer awarded, but many FE providers still hold it – you may want to ask about this when researching where you want to learn. Your personal adviser should also be able to help you find out about the support a college or FE provider can offer you. Make sure you do lots of research and visit any providers before you sign up to a course with them. This will make it more likely that you’ll enjoy your course and the place that you choose to study at.
‘An NVQ is a good option for people who don’t have good GCSEs but who do want to go to uni. It helps build up your confidence and helps with things like essay writing and spelling. My teachers were really supportive and the atmosphere at college was completely different from school.’ Holly
Options in FE
The rest of this section gives you information on the settings and types of courses available in FE. Each of these routes will be a different experience and have different pros and cons depending on your situation.
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There are a huge range of FE courses that you can do to gain qualifications, improve your skills or just learn more about something that interests you.
HE isn't just about university - it includes higher apprenticeships, foundation degrees, undergraduate degrees and postgraduate degrees. As a care leaver, you can get support to apply and pay for HE courses.