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Another two years may be top choice.

AST week A-levels,and this week it is the turn of GCSE students on Merseyside to ponder their future as they wait for results day on Thursday.

There are lots of options available for 16-year-olds,and at times it seems the choices are endless.

Deciding what to do next can be difficult. Should you choose from the wide range of vocational qualifications now available,including AVCE -advanced certificate of education -and GNVQs,general national vocational qualification?

Or should you take the modern apprenticeship route which offers on-the-job training with college tuition?

In the ECHO this week education reporter Claire Stoker explains all these options in the build-up to GCSE results day. Today she examines the benefits of staying on and studying for A-levels.

WHEN you get your GCSE results the thought of starting another two years of school can be daunting.

But for many students,A-levels are the right choice because they provide a traditional route into higher education. Despite problems in recent years, they are still held up as the gold standard of exams.

If your school does not have a sixth form, the reare several further education colleges in Merseyside, including Liverpool Community College,Hugh Baird College in Bootle and Wirral Metropolitan College.

For full details of all the A-level courses available,first speak to your school. If it does not offer the courses you need,it will be able to put you in touch with the right college.

Peter Barnes,headteacher of Gateacre, the largest comprehensive in Liverpool,believes school sixth forms are the next logical step for pupils.

He said: ``Schools are familiar with the pupils anyway so there is no awkward settling- in process into a new college -we'vecared for them for five years already and know their parents.

``GCSEs are only one very early staging post in the whole education process and we are talking about lifelong learning. Even A-levels should not be the end.''

Hooshang Rahmani,head of curriculum at Bootle's HughBaird College,believes colleges can offer students more choices.

He said: ``We offer AS-levels in 22 different subjects across the board so students have more opportunity to mix and match subjects.

``Students should stay on in education to do A-levels because they develop life skills and get the qualifications which in the long-term will provide them with better opportunities.''

USEFUL CONTACTS: Connexions advice service: www.connexions.org.uk Liverpool community college: 0151-252 3000Wirral metropolitan college: 0151 -551 7777 Hugh Baird college:0151-353 4400
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 18, 2003
Words:411
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