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Post-16 Education

What Post-16 provision is available? 

Young people have a range of options available to them at the end of Year 11. They can stay in school if the school has a Sixth Form and an appropriate programme of study is available to them.

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However, there are other options that provide education and training to young people who are 16 and over.

These include:

For more information about the choices for education after Year 11 for learners with Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans download the Post 16 Education Route Planner.

Sixth Forms

School Sixth Forms

These offer a range of A level courses and, in some cases vocational courses as well. In some schools you can mix and match these to create a ‘mixed programme’. Talk to your careers adviser and school staff to discuss what would be appropriate for you.

Sixth Form College

Again, these offer a range of A levels and also vocational courses. It is less common for mixed programmes to be offered. Talk to your careers advisor, make a visit to the college to look around and ask questions and explore their website to look at courses.

Further education college

Here you can study a range of courses from Foundation Studies, through a menu of vocational courses at a level to suit you. The Colleges also offer apprenticeship and supported internships. Talk to the college and to your careers adviser about the options that will be right for you.


These combine practical, on-the-job training with study and can be at level 2 (GCSE equivalent) up to Level 6 and 7 (Bachelors or master’s degree level). They can take one to five years to complete and are paid. Go to the Apprenticeships web page for further information and providers.


These are education and training programmes with work experience that are designed to help young people aged 16 to 24 to become ‘work ready’. The programme will give a young person English and mathematics as well as work experience that will prepare them for an apprenticeship or employment.  Go to Traineeships web page for further information and providers.

Independent specialist providers

These are smaller providers offering courses and support to students who often need a higher level of personal support and provision. The courses provided will most likely be vocational with mathematics and English alongside. If this is an appropriate route for you, your careers adviser or staff at school will be able to advise you.

Supported employment

Several of the providers listed above can offer you a supported employment route. This could be an apprenticeship, a traineeship or, if you have an Education, Health and Care Plan, a supported internship. 

Once employed, the Access to Work scheme may support many of the changes, equipment and job-coaching required to keep you at work.

These are programmes of study specifically aimed at young people with an Education Health and Care (EHC) Plan. Supported Internships are usually the final phase of full time education and giving a stepping stone into employment and independent learning.  The majority of young people with special educational needs are capable of sustained paid employment if they have the right preparation and support. Supported Internships are structured study programmes delivered through a workplace.  Go to the Careers South West (CSW) website for more information or talk to your school or college staff.

You can find information about all of these providers in Cornwall's SEND Local Offer


Post-16 funding is, for most students, as it was in school, given that the school leaving age is, in effect 18. However, for students with identified special educational needs it is worth having an understanding of the system.

Funding for Post-16 Special Educational Needs

In common with arrangements in schools young people in post-16 education can access element 1, element 2 and element 3 funding according to their level of need. The funding is cumulative. Elements 1 and 2 are provided by central government through the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). 

Element 1

Element 1 funding is made available to post 16 providers by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).  This funding  is allocated for every learner, whether they have special educational needs (SEN) or not. It funds the course and the general running of the provider e.g. a college or 6th form.   

Element 2

The ESFA is also the organisation that allocates Element 2 funding. There are two types of Element 2; Disadvantage Funding and High Needs Place Funding.

Different forms of additional support paid for by Disadvantage Funding are accessed by a wide range of young people. High Needs Place Funding is provided to meet the Element 2 needs of young people who receive Element 3 linked to their education, health and care (EHC) plans.

Element 3

Some young people with complex needs who have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan can access additional resources from the Local Authority in which they live that are additional to element 1 and element 2. The amount is determined at EHCP reviews and allocated to providers. This is reviewed when young people make a transition from one institution to another or when the provision, such as the course they are on or their support needs, change significantly.


The term ‘transition’ is used to describe the life changes that a child or young person may go through. This includes moving from class to class, key stage to key stage, or setting to setting. When moving to post-16 provision, young people with SEND should be supported through preparation for transition that is part of the ongoing Assess, Plan, Do, Review cycle.  

More information about preparing for transition, including a Transition guidance document and one page resources, can be found on our Transition page. 

For information about Post-16 Transition aimed specifically at young people, download our Guide for Young People to Post-16 Transition.

If you are in Year 11 you should be thinking about what you are going to do next year; further information about planning your education after Year 11 can be found on our Year 11 pupil information page.

When preparing to transition to Post-16 education it is important that young people. families, schools and post16 providers are aware of the post-16 transport application process and the rules regarding the nearest post 16 provider to your home address. This information can be found on the Post-16  Transport page.

Additionally, information about  other forms of transport can be found on the Leisure and Transport information page of Cornwall's SEND Local Offer.