GCSE results – what now?

GCSE results – what now?

If your young person has taken GCSEs this year you will be aware that results are available tomorrow (25th August). They may already have a plan and know what is happening come Sept, but for some, their results may not be as expected. This blog explores the different options available.

Does a young person have to stay at school?

A young person can legally leave school at the end of the school year in which they turn 16 (normally the end of year 11). However, all young people must be in some kind of education, employment or training until the age of 18. This can be combined with paid or voluntary work.


Below is a list of the different grades your young person may receive.

List of GCSE grades

Regardless of the grades they receive, there are several Post-16 options available. These options have been separated into 3 pathways :

3 Pathways to Employment

1) Education:

There are 2 main options:

  • Stay at school – If there is a 6th form. This is if they offer a course or subject you want to do AND you have the qualifications to do it. The school will tell you if this is possible for you.
  • Further Education (FE) College – You do NOT need to have GCSEs to go onto all FE courses. FE Colleges offer a broader range of subjects and at different levels. Click on the box below to find out more.
Qualification Levels >>> Click here

The following list are the different levels of education that could be available. Please click on each one to read more.

Foundation or entry level >>>

No previous qualifications are needed to do this level and these courses are often called work skills, life skills or step-up programmes. They are for young people who do not have GCSEs or have low grades or just need more time to settle into college. They could still work their way up to GCSE and even A levels if they are capable of this.

Level 1 >>>

A young person will need at least 2 GCSEs at grade 1/G or above, preferably including English and maths, or Entry 3 English and maths

Level 2 (This is GCSE level) >>>

A young person will need at least 3 GCSEs at grade 3/ D or above, including English and maths or a Level 1 qualification (with a suitable level of English or Maths at key skills or Functional Skills).

Level 3 (this is A Level Standard) >>>

At least 4 GCSEs at grade 4/C  including English and Maths or a relevant Level 2 qualification with at least 80% Merit profile, including English and Maths requirements. But look at individual college course entry requirements for more guidance.

T Level >>>

These are an alternative to A levels, apprenticeships and other 16 to 19 courses and are equivalent to 3 A levels.  A ‘T Level’ focuses on vocational skills and can help students into skilled employment, higher study or apprenticeships. 80% of the time is in the classroom and 20% in the workplace with a 45 day industry placement. More information about T Levels

Young people with more complex SEN will often start at foundation Level or Level 1. Once completed, there may be opportunity to move onto the next level.

Those with lower grades in GCSE who have not achieved English & Maths could look to do a Level 1 or 2 vocational course while retaking English and maths GCSE or completing functional skills qualifications in English and maths.

There are Vocational courses as well as the academic courses across the various levels.

LA will not fund ‘leisure courses’ such as part time drama or art courses of a few hours a week.

All 16 to 18-year-olds will receive funding for their first level 2 or 3 course. Most, but not all 19 to23-year-olds will also receive funding for their first level 2 or 3 course. Check with the college to find out if you are unsure.

Young people with EHCPs will receive funding if there is an educational pathway (up to 25 years old) and there is still progression towards outcomes. The LA won’t usually fund repeat courses at the same level unless there is a clear indication of progression and need for this.

2) Work Based Training

Supported Internship

For those who have reached their limit of progression in college courses but require additional support to move into a work placement.  The college or provider oversees the placement and provides supplementary learning in college, usually for one day a week, to support the placement.  Students who take a Supported Internship must have and EHCP to be eligible.


For those young people who need work experience and some support preparing for a Level 2 apprenticeship, work or voluntary work.  

Vocational work skills and experience are supported by completing Functional Skills qualifications in maths and English outside the placement to achieve qualifications and develop employability.


Work based qualifications with a day release to a local College.  There is a wide range of vocational areas for Apprenticeships, and these are provided at Level 2 and Level 3, with some offering further progression to degree level and beyond. 

For Level 2 and 3 there are entry requirements.  Some employers will show flexibility about the entry criteria on an individual basis, and there can be flexibility regarding having or doing a Functional Skills qualification in maths or English instead of GCSEs if the YP has an EHCP.  The EHCP covers support for the college part but adjustments should be made by the employer for work based needs. 

There is a national website for apprenticeships  which cover the whole country and further information on the West Sussex apprenticeship website Apprenticeships – West Sussex County Council            

3) Work or Preparation for Work

There are a number of different routes and sources of support for finding both employment, supported employment and voluntary work.

Work Experience

Work Experience may be offered through school, or could be arranged informally outside school.

Link Courses are sometimes provided by schools in year 11. These are one day spent at college whilst still attending school to encourage interest in different courses and areas of work.

Voluntary Work

Voluntary work can be researched through websites, or local contacts and is often a useful start to investigating an interest, learning work skills and making a contribution. Volunteering website for young people:

Do It
Skill Share West Sussex – Match your skills with volunteering

The Careers Team can provide information, advice, guidance and support if you live in West Sussex and are aged 16 to 25 and aren’t in education, employment or training. They can help you think about next steps, recognise your skills, strengths and ambitions, find out about opportunities, including education, apprenticeships, employment, traineeships, training and volunteering. Careers Team West Sussex County Council | West Sussex Local Offer (local-offer.org)

Princes Trust provides short courses for preparation for work.  These include work experience, functional skills, team building, a residential element and support for next steps.

The National Citizen Service is a national initiative for young people aimed at promoting social inclusion and fostering life skills in preparation for adult life. Young people can take part in social action projects and build skills for work and life.  There is a residential aspect to take part in a team project that will help the community.

Job Searches can be supported in Education and Training placements or through the ‘Your Space’ Website Work – West Sussex County Council.

Find It Out Centres in your local area can support with looking for vacancies, writing a CV and making applications for education, training and employment   FindItOut centres – West Sussex County Council.

Other Provision

  • Jobcentre Plus – Ask for the Disability Adviser who has more specialist knowledge about those requiring additional support
  • Supported Employment- for those funded by Health/Social Care; WorkAid; Southdown Housing Employment Support; Impact. Work Aid works with those with Autism and/or a Learning Disability, providing information, advice and support to job search, develop a CV and apply for jobs.
  • Day services – provision for over 18s is funded by Adult social care (or it can be funded privately). There is a variety of provision with some related to work activity and skills and other activities related to social activities and skills. Local Authority & Voluntary Organisations provide these, for example
    • Growing Together or Outreach 3 way: Horticulture
    • Aldingbourne Country Centre (Aldingbourne Trust)
  • Local Offer: local information for what is available in your area for young people with special needs or a disability https://westsussex.local-offer.org/

Those specifically with EHCPS

For those with EHC plans, post 16 options should be discussed as part of the annual review. Your child’s needs and wishes are important and the options should be chosen based on their aspirations and interests. 

Once your young person has chosen a suitable college, their school should work with the new setting to ensure a smooth transition into the next stage of their study.

For young people with more complex needs, a residential provision may be available. You will need to show the YP needs education provision for the whole of the day rather than just school hours.  

If you are unsure about what is going to happen, please contact your planning coordinator in SENAT and discuss the options with them.

A note about Post -16 Transport

Free help with transport for post 16 provision is not an automatic right for young people, even if they have had transport before. The aim is to gradually enable them to become more independent in their travelling.  If there is an EHC plan in place, transport to post 16 provision should be discussed as part of the annual review. Please contact your planning coordinator in SENAT for more information. You can find out more about whether transport will be provided from West Sussex’s transport Policy

What can you do to support your young person?

This can often be an overwhelming time for young people, especially if they did not do as well in their exams as they hoped. The following are some tips to help:

  • Allow your young person to begin making or being involved in decisions.
  • Start to help them think about their aspirations e.g. what they would like to do when they are older and what steps they will need to take to achieve this.
  • Be prepared to not always agree with their decisions. Do explain the possible consequences of these decisions and support them where you feel able.
  • Be prepared for them to make mistakes or errors.  That is ok and how they will learn best. Be there to support them if this happens.

Encourage your young person’s voice

  • Discuss things with your young person and as a family
  • Choices involved with personal safety often worries parents – but many young people can be supported to gradually understand and improve their decision making
  • Practice making positive choices and ”safe” risk taking (which means talking about the likely outcomes of a decision and choosing things that do not have harmful consequences for them and support their understanding and decision making). This develops skills they will need as they develop and mature into young adults and beyond

Encourage good decision making

  • Increase opportunities for your young person to make choices
  • Support your child to try new things
  • Increase independence whenever possible
  • Be a positive role model
  • Encouragement
  • Increase interaction & communication

Support with exam results

West Sussex County Council (WSCC) have careers advisors who can provide free, one-to-one advice following results. Chat with them by calling 0330 222 2700 or email careersadvice@westsussex.gov.uk.

YOUR MIND MATTERS – for students who feel stressed or anxious after opening their grades and need advice and support

Further Information

CONTACT: https://contact.org.uk/help-for-families/information-advice-services/education-learning/education-beyond-16/#moving-area