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Exploring Vocational Qualifications: alternatives to GCSEs

Some schools offer vocational qualifications alongside GCSEs.

Vocational qualifications offer a mix of practical and theoretical learning that is directly related to a specific area of employment.

These work-related courses can be a good option if you have a job sector in mind or if you would like to gain employability skills linked to a particular type of work.

The courses that are most commonly available in schools for students in Years 10 and 11 are BTEC qualifications and OCR Cambridge Nationals.

BTECs & OCR Cambridge Nationals

BTECs and OCR Cambridge Nationals are vocational qualifications designed to give students the skills they need to move on to higher education or to go straight into employment.

By applying learning to real-life situations, these qualifications offer a more practical approach than traditional courses.

Students have to undertake a number of units for which they present evidence based on real-life work and studies. This allows them to demonstrate their skills and knowledge in practical situations. If you think you would succeed better working in this way, the BTEC or OCR Cambridge National route may be the one to investigate.

Careerpilot has all you need to know on vocational qualifications.

GCSEs in vocational subjects

In addition to BTECs and OCR Cambridge Nationals, there are a very small number of GCSEs in vocational subjects that might be a choice worth considering.

The vocational subjects currently available (in some schools) at GCSE level are...

  • ICT

These GCSEs can be a first step on the ladder to a specific career and can lead on to further vocationally focused study or training.

If you think you would like to study a GCSE in a vocational subject, you will need to find out which ones are offered at your school

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