Colleges in Sussex

Colleges in Sussex offer a myriad of choices when it comes to further education.

A levels, diplomas, vocational qualifications and the International Baccalaureate are amongst the many courses on offer to students.

The government has recently changed the age to which all young people in England must continue in education or training. Currently pupils can’t leave until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17 and from 2015 they must stay on until their 18th birthday.

The changes have been made because research shows young people who continue learning or training until 18 earn more money, are likely to be healthier and less likely to be in trouble with the police.

However, this does not necessarily mean staying in college full time. It could be through full-time study in a school, college or with a training provider; full-time work or volunteering combined with part-time education or training, or an apprenticeship. Students can earn money and learn new skills at the same time.

The main qualifications available at colleges in Sussex are diplomas, GNVQs, BTECs, AS and A levels and the International Baccalaureate.

AS and A levels are the traditional qualifications offered for after GCSE or for those wanting to go back to education later in life. AS levels can be taken as stand-alone qualifications at the end of year 12 or as the first part of an A level course where A2 exams and coursework are added at the end of year 13.

The subjects studied at AS/A level can help shape future careers. What matters most is choosing subjects they really enjoy as the courses involve in-depth study and studentsl do better if they do extra reading and become absorbed in their subjects. If they are already focused on a particular career this is their chance to start to specialise.

Vocational qualifications offered by colleges in Sussex include NVQs and BTECs. The former stands for National Vocational Qualification and is ideal if the student knows what job they want to do. There are more than 1,000 subjects available ranging from childcare and hairdressing to plumbing and construction. NVQs are gained through training and assessment (normally on the job) and the pass levels are based on national standards for the chosen occupation.

BTECs are also work related qualifications but are aimed at young people interested in a particular industry but not sure exactly what job they would like. Courses have been designed with a lot of input from industry and offer a mixture of theory and practice. Subjects available include media, science, sport, art and design, business and IT.

Diplomas have been introduced at some colleges in Sussex to encourage more people to continue studying. The aim is to provide work-orientated skills through practical training and work experience. Subjects available include travel and tourism, engineering, humanities and business, administration and finance. Diplomas, which involve lots of project work and problem solving, can be studied at different levels equivalent to low grade GCSEs through to high grade A levels.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is a challenging programme of education available in some colleges in Sussex. Internationally recognised, it leads to an IB Diploma which is well respected by universities and is particularly good if the student wants to go on and study overseas. It offers a broader programme of study than A levels and encourages students to think independently and explore their creativity. The diploma encompasses a whole range of subjects including languages, maths, the arts and humanities as well as learning about where knowledge comes from, how to analyse evidence and how to argue a point.

Different colleges in Sussex offer different choices and ranges of courses so it is really important to do lots of research so the student can make a well informed choice.