Advanced (A) Level qualifications
The General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (short form: GCE Advanced Level), or more commonly, the A Level, is a school leaving qualification offered by educational bodies in the United Kingdom. Courses focus on academic subjects.
Students choose the courses which best suit their interests and abilities, which offer them the appropriate opportunities for progression. Initial course choices are made via the online application form and all applicants will have a counselling meeting to discuss their applications.
In addition to their A level studies all students will follow a programme of Enrichment which takes place on a Wednesday afternoon and includes opportunities for a range of extracurricular activities and sports. Students also follow a programme of activities designed to develop competencies in organisation, team working and communication skills.
Vocational Level 3
Vocational courses were introduced in the 1980s and offer an alternative to A Level education at sixth form level. The BTEC Level 3 Extended Certificate is one such programme and is equivalent to a GCE A Level programme in terms of weighting and outcome. OCR National programmes also offer the same variant and will complement an A level curriculum offering. As a result, students can study a mix of vocational level 3 and A Level courses.
A big difference between A level and vocational Level 3 courses is in their delivery and assessment. A Level courses are assessed using formal exams at the end of two years of studying, whereas vocational courses are continually assessed throughout the course using coursework, practical projects and some external exams. If the thought of exams fills you with dread, studying for a vocational course could be ideal. However, if you do not like extended projects and coursework-based learning then A Level courses could be more suitable to you.