View our new Local Offer BETA site (opens in a new window) and let us know what you think. email:


Post-16 learning

Post-16 education and training includes a wide range of study programmes including AS and A levels, vocational qualifications, apprenticeships, traineeships, supported internships and bespoke packages of learning.

Learning might take place at a school sixth form, sixth form college, general FE college, academy, independent specialist provider, training provider or with a private or voluntary organisation.

Continuing in learning 

From September 2015, all young people will be required to continue in learning until their 18th birthday. This is a national policy called 'raising the participation age' and it does not necessarily mean young people must stay in school beyond the age of 16 - they can choose from one of the following options:

  • full-time education, such as school or college
  • work-based learning with training, such as an apprenticeship, traineeship or supported internship
  • part-time education or training if they are employed, self-employed or volunteering for more than 20 hours a week.

Programmes of study

Young people in further education aged 16−19 (and where they have an EHC plan, up to the age 25) should follow a coherent study programme which provides stretch and progression to enable them to achieve the best possible outcomes in adult life, enabling them to progress onto a higher level of study. This should include English and maths or functional skills. For students not following substantial qualifications they should participate in work experience and activities that prepare them for employment, independent living, being healthy and participating in society.

Full-time further education

Full-time further education comprises 540-600 directed learning hours in an academic year. This is in the region of 16 hours per week. Depending on the type of course, this may be delivered across three to five days. Some young people may need a package that covers five days each week but this does not need to be with one provider and could involve amounts of time at different providers in different settings.

Adult courses

Nineteen to 25-year-olds with SEN but without EHC plans can choose to remain in further education on courses funded by the Skills Funding Agency. As adult learners they may be required to pay fees for their course.

Support in learning

Schools and colleges should make reasonable adjustments to prevent disabled young people from being placed at a substantial disadvantage and should use their best efforts to secure the special educational provision that a young person needs.

Funding support

Colleges have funding for students with additional needs and are expected to provide high quality support. Colleges are not expected to meet the full costs of more expensive support. Where a young person's support costs more than £6,000 per academic year, the local authority should provide additional top up funding to meet identified needs. There is no requirement for an EHC plan for a young person whom a college receives additional top up funding except in the case of a young person who is over 19 years of age. 

Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)

The Disabled Student's Allowances (DSA) are supplementary allowances available to students who may have extra expenses, as a direct result of their disability, arising from attending a higher education course. The allowances are meant to help disabled students benefit fully from their course; they are not means-tested.


Apprenticeships can give young people experience in the workplace and recognised qualifications. Young people need to be 16 or over to apply and there are usually some minimum entry requirements. For those who need extra support or who are not yet ready for work or an apprenticeship, a foundation level programme or traineeship may be more suitable. These aim to prepare young people for higher levels of learning, employment or training.