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Considering Further Education

Either you get a degree or you’re unemployable right? University is a good option certainly but you don’t always have to have a degree to pursue even some of the so-called ‘top’ careers. If your grades are not what you hoped for or, for whatever reason you don’t think that University is for you then you might want to consider a Foundation Degree, an HND or HNC, a BTEC, an NVQ or a City & Guilds qualification.

Foundation Degrees

Foundation Degrees are a step towards the world of work or a bachelor’s degree. They combine academic study with work-based learning to give participants a variety of skills that are useful in a variety of jobs.

There are truly gigantic amounts of Foundation Degrees to choose from, covering anything from agriculture and building technology to graphic design and sports coaching. They are usually designed in partnership with universities, colleges and employers to ensure that they are relevant to particular occupations. You can find out the courses on offer by looking at


HNDs (Higher National Diploma) and HNCs (Higher National Certificate) are work-related courses provided by over 400 higher education and further education colleges in a wide array of subjects.

The HND takes two years to complete as a full-time discipline or three to four years if it’s done part-time whilst working. The HNC is at a lower level to the HND, but it still focuses on largely the same subject areas, taking one year full-time or two years part-time. All of the courses focus on delivering the skills required for a particular occupation, whether you want to be an accountant, animator or a music producer.

BTEC, City & Guilds & OCR Nationals

A BTEC (Business, Technology & Education Council) is another work-related qualification. There are three tiers to the qualification, beginning with the ‘Award’, then the ‘Certificate’ and finally the ‘Diploma’. These are often interwoven with Apprenticeships or general occupations. However, they can be taken on their own, either full-time or part-time.

City & Guilds as well as ‘OCR Nationals’ deliver a similar qualification and can also be taken in a variety of subjects, including Business, Health and Social Care, Media, IT, Public Services, Science, Sports and Art and Design. Entry onto these courses usually requires GCSEs between grades D and G for Level 1 and Level 2 courses, and grades A* to C to study the Level  3 qualification.


An NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) is what’s commonly referred to as a ‘competence-based’ qualification. Students are assessed ‘on-the-job’, where an NVQ assessor measures an individual’s performance when undertaking a particular process or task.

Employers often introduce these courses and offer them to people who are already working; however, they can also be taken as a way of securing a job. The Scottish equivalent of an NVQ is an SVQ (Scottish Vocational Qualification).

St Mary's Catholic High School, Newbold Road, Newbold, Chesterfield, S41 8AG

St Marys Catholic High School Academy Trust is an exempt charity and a company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales with Company Number 8107212 and has a registered office at Newbold Road, Upper Newbold, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, S41 8AG.

St Mary's Catholic High School