There will come a point where you will be asked to choose which type of qualification and subjects you would like to take through to the end of your schooling. The options in each nation do differ but we have provided a summary for you below. Your school Careers Adviser will be able to help you think about these options further.


GCSE courses are studied for the last two years of compulsory schooling. They are offered in subjects such as history, geography, dance, drama, IT, business studies and many more. Opting to take a profile of GCSEs will require you to submit coursework and take an exam in each subject.  These are available in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

GCSEs in vocational subjects
These are linked to broad areas like Applied Business. They are mainly coursework with some tests. These are graded A* - G and are equal to 2 GCSEs. These are available in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Diploma in Business, Administration and Finance (BAF)
Students will be able to choose to take a Diploma course, offered in a range of subjects including Business, Administration and Finance. Students studying BAF will not limit their career options to business studies but will develop transferable skills that can be used for a range of opportunities including further or higher education or employment. For more information visit the BAF Diploma website Only available in England.

Vocational course
Until the Diploma is available in all subject areas, schools and colleges will continue to offer vocational courses such as BTEC awards in subjects such as Business and Finance. Vocational courses enable people to find out about the sector and develop project and transferable skills related to the sector. There is a lot of coursework and presentations involved in vocational courses and students who take this route have to be able to manage their workload very well. These are available in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQ)
Some schools continue to offer students the opportunity to study occupational subjects such as Business Administration at school. These are known as NVQ and SVQ's and are often taught at school, but with some time spent in a local college or training provider completing the hands on part of the course. These are available in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification
The Welsh Baccalaureate is offered in some schools in Wales. Students combine study of existing qualifications like NVQs and GCSEs with a core programme which includes:
- Key skills
- Wales, Europe and the World
- Work-related Education
- Personal and Social Education
In school, the Welsh Baccalaureate is available at 2 levels:
- Foundation Diploma - equivalent to GCSEs grades D-G
- Intermediate Diploma - equivalent to GCSEs grade A*-C
The Welsh Baccalaureate is valued by employers and universities. For more information visit

For information on choices at school in Scotland, please contact Careers Scotland - 



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