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Course types for 14 to 18 year olds

Course types explained

Making sure you choose the right type of course is really important and there are lots of options. Here’s a quick guide to what they all mean.

  • 14-16 Programme – Pupils in years 10 and 11 have opportunities to study a vocational course at Buxton & Leek College alongside their GCSE programme in school. This includes courses such as Hair & Beauty, Motor Vehicle and Hospitality. Many students find these courses a useful step in deciding upon their future career and helps to prepare them for College life after their GCSEs. The courses have to be agreed between the school and the College. Any students that are interested should speak to their school first, then ask their school to contact the College to discuss.
  • Developing Skills – If you didn’t achieve the GCSE results you were expecting or have become disengaged with school, our Developing Skills programmes give you the confidence and ability to move into work or go on to further study through vocational learning.
  • BTEC – these are career-based qualifications designed to give students the skills they need to move on to higher education or go straight into employment. More employers and higher education institutions than ever before are choosing BTEC qualified candidates for their academic and practical knowledge and skills.
  • NVQ – are designed by employers who ensure students acquire the skills they know employers are looking for. You will be assessed on work related tasks.
  • CACHE – are qualifications awarded by the Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education – the UK’s leading provider of vocational qualifications for those working in the care and education sectors.
  • Traineeships – A Traineeship will prepare you for your future career by helping you to become work ready and compete successfully for job vacancies or Apprenticeships.
  • Apprenticeships – An Apprenticeship combines the best of both worlds; as an Apprentice you’ll learn job specific skills and gain a recognised industry qualification while at the same time being employed and earning a salary.
  • Access to Higher Education – A qualification suitable for adults who have been away from education for a while. It prepares people without traditional qualifications for progression to study at University.
  • University Courses – We offer a variety of University courses including Higher National Certificates and Diplomas, Foundation Degrees, Year Zero, BA (Hons), Top-Up and the Certificate and Post Graduate Certificate of Education. Having these flexible and convenient courses on your doorstep means you don’t have to travel far or study full time to gain a University Level qualification.
  • Working Towards Independence and Independence & Living Skills – Designed for young people and adults with additional support needs. These courses help people develop personal skills, become more independent, learn skills to help with jobs or training and get involved in the community.
  • Maths & English – If you didn’t do well first time around, you can study GCSE or Functional Skills Maths and English without paying any fees if you didn’t achieve Grade 4 or above. This is a legal requirement up until the age of 18. Adults who have not achieved Grade A*-C can come to adult night classes and also will not have to pay any fees.
  • Employer Short Courses – To help you up-skill and stay compliant with industry regulations in driving, first aid, construction and building, logistics and much more.
  • Learning for Leisure – Friendly and informal recreational courses for adults to help learn new skills and meet new people and usually 6 to 12 weeks long.

Course levels for 14 to 18 year olds


It’s not only important to choose the right course for you, it’s also important to get the right level to match your ability and preferred way of learning.

Entry Level 1-3

What to expect – For students who find learning difficult or who have become disengaged with education. You will be given the support you need in an all-inclusive learning environment.
Entry Requirements – No formal entry requirements. You will be offered a place based on a successful interview and short assessment to ensure you are on the right course for your ability.


What to expect – Learn vocational subjects and improve your Maths, English and ICT skills. Learn basic skills related to a job you’d like to do.
Entry Requirements – GCSE English at grade D plus 3 GCSEs at grade E or above. For some courses you may not need any entry requirements.


What to expect – Build skills and knowledge in your subject area, which link to a job you’d like to do.
Entry Requirements – 4 GCSEs grade D or above including Maths and English. Science or ICT may be required for specific subjects or a Level 1 qualification.


What to expect – Learn and apply more detailed knowledge and skills in your subject area, which link to a job you’d like to do.
Entry Requirements – 5 GCSEs grade C or above including Maths and English. Science or ICT may be required for specific subjects or a Level 2 qualification.


Progress onto a University Level qualification such as a Higher Apprenticeship, Foundation Degree or Honours Degree.

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To view our current courses visit our subject areas page and select those that you are interested in.

You can also check out our apprenticeship vacancies which are available now!