Teachers (Post-16)

Teachers advice: Getting in without traditional A levels

Choosing a different qualification can offer an alternative way to study – as a teacher, you can help students consider their preferences for learning and assessment.

So which other qualifications could your students choose as a stepping stone to university? Here's an overview of what’s on offer…

BTEC qualifications and vocational courses 

It is becoming increasingly common for students to apply to university with a mixture of A level and BTEC qualifications. If the academic and exam focus of A levels isn't right for a student you're advising, then how about a vocational qualification at Level 3 (Level 6 on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework)?

BTEC qualifications are widely available in sixth forms and colleges, but you might encounter CACHE qualifications, City and Guilds Tech Levels or Cambridge Technicals too. These qualifications tend to link to a broad job area, rather than an academic subject – think engineering, not maths; health sciences, not biology.

Vocational courses like these might suit students considering university or work-related options in future. Students will still spend time in the classroom, but they should also get the chance to apply their learning. There's a focus on coursework and assignments over exams. As a general rule, students will need GCSEs at grade 4 to get a place.

Access to Higher Education Courses 

For students looking for a route to university but without the necessary qualifications, the Access to HE Diploma might be worth considering.

Typically, Access students are 19+ and most have had a break from study. Unlike most of the two-year options explained here, this course is offered as a one-year intensive programme and can be taken part-time. Students will mainly be assessed by coursework, alongside other assessment methods, including essays, presentations, laboratory work, research projects and exams. 

International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma

For students who want breadth of study, the International Baccalaureate has lots to offer. Students cover six subjects, three at higher level. The programme is academically challenging but encourages personal development too.

The IB Diploma can be a great choice for all-rounders, as students are expected to study one from each of the following groups:

  • studies in language and literature
  • language acquisition
  • individuals and societies
  • sciences
  • mathematics
  • the arts

Students also pick a second subject from a group of their choosing. Assessment is based around coursework and final exams.

You can also chat with our staff directly every Wednesday from 2 pm - 4 pm and periodically throughout the working week.

Alternatively, chat with our current students who will be able to share this information with you and any other course-related queries.

Or book onto one of our Open Days or Course Advice Days to find out more and speak with the team.

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