Your Future, Your Choice

Raising the Participation Age (RPA) is the Government’s policy which sets out the requirement for young people to continue in learning or training after the age of 16.  RPA does not necessarily mean staying in school; you can choose where and how continue in learning and training.

By staying in learning and training you can gain the qualifications and skills you need to help you to succeed. Advantages include:

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  • Making it easier to find and stay in a job
  • Having the ability to earn and give you a greater choice of career path
  • Being able to compete in the future local job market
  • Providing pathways to opportunities where you can develop your qualifications and skills further in order to support your future career aspirations for example: higher education, higher apprenticeships, setting up your own business.

When choosing your next steps, whether to work for yourself or someone else, it’s a good idea to develop the skills that employers are looking for, such as a positive attitude, team work skills, problem-solving abilities, a hard work ethic, and customer and communication skills. As you gain this experience, stay confident and manage your expectations. Taking a low level job is a ‘stepping stone’ onto a higher role.

These web pages provide information on qualifications and apprenticeships and how they progress to help you choose which is the right choice for you. There is also information on school types, further and higher education colleges, as well as training opportunities available to you within Cornwall.

You will also find information on how to access independent information, advice and guidance (IAG) which is available to help you make choices relating to your future studies and career,

The following is a breakdown of the the types of choices you might need to make:

  • Year 6 (age 11) - think about what you like to do, what subjects do you like and / or are you good at 
  • Year 8 (age 13) - think about the subjects that you enjoy and / or are good at. You may have to make choices on what you study at school in more depth
  • Year 11 (age 16) -  you have even more choice and can think about doing an apprenticeship, studying for A levels or a vocational route, planning for a university degree or another specialism, working for yourself, volunteering or work based learning. You don’t have to stay in full time learning (16+ hours per week) but you do need to stay in part time learning and do 20 hours paid or voluntary work per week until your 18th birthday.  

You have even more choice and can think about doing an apprenticeship, studying for A levels or a vocational route, planning for a university degree or another specialism, working for yourself, volunteering or work based learning. You don’t have to stay in full time learning (16+ hours per week) but you do need to stay in part time learning and do 20 hours paid or voluntary work per week until your 18th birthday.

By staying in learning and training you can gain the qualifications and skills you need to help you to succeed.  Advantages include:

  • Making it easier to find and stay in a job
  • Having the ability to earn and give you a greater choice of career path
  • Being able to compete in the future local job market
  • Providing pathways to opportunities where you can develop your qualifications and skills further in order to support your future career aspirations for example: higher education (university), higher apprenticeships, setting up your own business.

You will also have a greater chance to develop the knowledge and practical skills that employers are looking for. This means you will find it easier to get a better job, with better pay and career prospects.

From the age of 16 you have the choice of whether to study full or part time. You don’t have to stay at school until you gain grade C or above in GCSE English and maths.There are other routes available that will also support you with your English and maths.

There are a range of options you can choose in order to best meet your needs and your future career aspirations for the next steps. These include:

  • full-time or part-time education which includes studying at an FE college, school sixth form or home education;
  • an Apprenticeship;
  • part-time education or training if you are employed or self-employed;
  • Volunteering full-time (which is defined as 20 hours or more a week), whilst studying independently.

Use the links in the menu to find further information on what and where you can study.

You can download the qualifications table which provides information on the levels of qualification and the specific qualifications you can apply to study.

The Government provides additional funding to colleges and sixth forms and some learning providers to help young people in need of financial support to stay in learning post 16.

This could help with covering the costs of things such as your transport, books or equipment, costs for trips / visits etc.

More details on the 16–19 Bursary can be found on the gov.uk website or you can talk to your local provider about what financial assistance they may be able to offer you.