Options after you finish school

If you are thinking about life beyond year 11, get all the information you need to help you make the right choices.

Advice on what do do when you finish school

In your final year of secondary education, you'll need to make some decisions about what to do next.

This can feel like a lot of pressure but there is advice and support to help decide on your next steps.

If you're coming to the end of secondary education there are a number of things you should do.

Talk through your options with the people around you

Your teachers can be especially helpful, so talk to them about the subjects and careers you're interested in and get their opinion.

You can also get support from your school careers adviser. Your form tutor or student services can tell you how to book an appointment.

Start planning

It’s never too early to start planning. Colleges ask for applications to be submitted in the December before you finish school, so start researching your options and building a plan now.

Contact the Youth Employability Service

If you're reaching the end of your time at school or have already left but are still unsure of your next steps, contact the Youth Employability Service for help.

What you can do next

You can leave school on the last Friday of June if you’ll be 16 years old by the end of the summer holidays.

You must then do one of the following until you are 18 years old:

  • stay in full time education, for example, at a college or sixth form
  • start an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, whilst in part time education

Sixth Form or college courses

Colleges and Sixth Forms offer courses in a range of subjects and at different levels.

A course could be the right choice if you:

  • enjoy learning
  • have a career in mind that requires certain qualifications
  • have the grades you need to get into the course you’d like to do
  • have subjects that you particularly enjoy, or are good at

Explore all the different local course options.


Apprenticeships are a way of learning and working at the same time, so you gain a qualification and experience in the career that you are interested in. You will need to search and apply for vacancies and have an interview.

An apprenticeship might be the right choice if you:

  • prefer a practical, hands on style of learning
  • are reliable, punctual and can follow instructions
  • know what career you would like to pursue
  • have found vacancies available in the area you are interested in

Search and apply for apprenticeship vacancies.


Traineeships are training programmes that prepare you for an apprenticeship or job. A range of sectors offers them and they allow you to get experience and gain qualifications if needed.

A traineeship could be the right choice if you:

  • lack the work experience you need to get the job or apprenticeship you want
  • prefer practical, hands on learning
  • have found traineeships on offer in the area you are interested in

Find out more and apply for traineeships.


When you turn 16, you'll receive your National Insurance number. Keep it safe because you will need it if you start a job.

When you leave school, you can work for a maximum of 20 hours per week and you must compliment this with part time learning or training. 

A job could be the right choice if you:

  • have got a CV you can use to apply for vacancies
  • have the experience and qualifications you wneed to get a job
  • know where to search and apply for vacancies
  • are punctual, reliable and can follow instructions
  • have already arranged part time learning or training

Get advice about finding and applying for work.


Volunteering is a great way to gain experience and skills whilst also supporting your community. There are lots of opportunities to volunteer in and around Brighton & Hove.

When you leave school, you can volunteer for a maximum of 20 hours per week and you must compliment this with part time learning or training.

Volunteering could be a great choice for you if you:

  • want to give your time to a good cause
  • think volunteering will help you gain the skills you need for your future career
  • know what kind of opportunities are available in Brighton & Hove
  • know how you will cover your expenses

Find out more and search local volunteering opportunties.

How to get help with your finances

If you are under 18 and in education, or have recently left or finished a course of education, find out if your parent or guardian can get Child Benefit.

If you are a parent under the age of 20 and studying a publicly funded course, find out how to get help with childcare costs from Care To Learn.

If you decide not to continue in education or training, you could get paid through a job or apprenticeship.

Check the current National Minimum Wage rates for school leavers and apprentices. 

Get advice

School leavers can get free information and guidance from the Youth Employability Service.