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Emily wood and her mum jo

Make the most of your next two years of free full time education

16th August 2016

As full-time education is only free until your 19th birthday, it?s imperative that young adults and their parents weigh up all the options after GCSEs. A rash decision to simply stay on at your school sixth form could be very costly.

After completing GCSEs at school, Emily Wood from Havering, London, did one year at sixth form and studied for three AS Levels. She only passed her English AS Level and failed the other two.

Emily had already started to realise by the December that she was going to fail two of them. The key reason was that Emily struggles with exams, whereas she passed the English AS Level, as it was more coursework based.

Legal PA with Distinction

So, having completed just one year at sixth form, Emily decided that she would go to college to study a vocational technical course. She chose the Legal Secretarial course at Barking & Dagenham College and hasn’t looked back; she completed Levels 2 and 3 of the course over two years, gaining a Distinction in both.

Whilst at College, the staff helped Emily to arrange work experience with Freshfields, Bruckhaus Deringer, a top Legal firm in London and she is delighted she chose this route.


Her mum Jo Wood’s advice to other parents/carers of Year 11s is:

“Have a look around and look at every avenue and see what is best for your child. Every student is an individual (which I have found after having three children, who are all very different). I am so glad that Emily decided to do the vocational course at Barking & Dagenham College, which was much better for her learning.

“She had a lot of opportunities in the College and I cannot speak highly enough of how Emily enjoyed the courses and the opportunities she was given there.

“I am a very proud mum.”

Elaine Smart, Emily’s Personal Coach at the College comments:

“Once Emily had decided to change to a vocational course, which suited her more, she did really well in her studies.

“I know a bright future awaits her.”

Emily is now seeking employment and is hoping to go back to the company that she did her work experience with.

Julie Maling, Tutorial, Careers & Parental Involvement Manager Barking & Dagenham College, says:

“Full-time education is completely free if you are aged 19 and under (on the 31st August 2016), after that you will have to pay; so, it’s essential that if you think you have made a mistake by starting A-levels, for example, that you seek advice and possibly change to a more suitable vocational technical study programme whilst you are still eligible to receive funding from the Government.

"Remember there are a range of choices and routes available that will ensure that you gain a recognised qualification that leads to employment or progression into higher education".

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