Further education (FE) colleges are usually larger than sixth form colleges, although what they provide varies depending on what else is on offer locally.
If most local schools have sixth forms, or there are local sixth form colleges, the FE college may specialise in subjects which closely link to the needs of commerce or industry. These could include subjects such as art, agriculture or technology, many of which can lead to university entry.
In areas where the FE college is the only, or the main option after 16, they will offer everything you could get in a school sixth form or sixth form college.
Some FE colleges will have more than one site and some will have separate ‘sixth form centres.’ Although most students at FE colleges are over 16, all colleges will have part-time and adult students.
If you are a young person with a disability and have difficulties getting around, studying at an FE college can be an excellent option. This is because many will let you combine your college learning with learning at home.
You’ll also find that all FE colleges have a Learning Support Advisor who you can talk to about the courses and support that is available to you.
All colleges publish a free prospectus which includes information about its facilities and the courses on offer. They also have open days so that you can go along and see what is on offer and discuss any issues you have with the college.
Open days at colleges are held to help students make decisions about their future choices. You should make an effort to go along as this will give you a good chance to see what the college is like, find out more about the courses and meet the tutors. This could be one of the most important decisions you will ever make, so be sure to go along, have a good look around and ask lots of questions!
Who can help?
Your school should be able to help and might be able to arrange for you to speak to a careers teacher.
You can find out about open days from your school, local Connexions Provider, local paper or the colleges themselves.
Speak to your friends, parents or carers, as talking to other people often helps.
If you are a young person with a disability and you are thinking about studying at a FE college, you’ll find lots of really useful information on the Directgov site.
The Directgov site also explains exactly how you go about getting assessed for a Statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN).
The ‘Education and learning for disabled people’ section of the Directgov site also contains details of what schools must do by law to increase their accessibility.
The Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities website offers loads of practical advice on where and what to study.
The Directgov Money To Learn section offers useful information and fully explains the funding that you may be entitled to if you’re aged between 14 and 19.
For guidance on the careers available to you after further education, visit the
There is a publication called ‘Parents & Carers: Guide to options 14-19’, which is available to help parents and carers understand the choices ahead and how they can support you in these key decisions. If your parents or carers have not received a copy ask your school or order a free copy from: Publications, PO Box 5050, Sherwood, Nottingham NG15 0DJ. Telephone: 0845 602 2260. Check out the interactive version online at: http://www.connexions-direct.com/parentcarer