The ‘next step’ after GCSEs is something many teenagers – and their parents – worry about. Many children, once they get to 16, are happy to continue onto further education taking either A’levels or International Baccalaureate. But what happens if your teen isn’t one of those, what are the alternatives?

Thankfully, young people have never had so many post-16 options as they do now. The range of schemes has opened new pathways for school leavers to get into higher education, and to start a career.

How do you decide which path to take?

This article will help you better understand the options available to you after you finish your GCSEs so your teen can make a clear, well-informed and well-thought-out decision about their future.


Many schools offer B.Techs. These are more vocational courses. The points achieved at the end are the result of continual assessments throughout the course. B.Techs are fantastic if your child doesn’t do well in exams, has a passion for a particular profession or just prefers a more hands-on course. Mainly offered in subjects such as business, computing, media, hospitality and beauty, they offer students a way of being ‘job ready’. The skills learned are designed to be directly transferable into the workplace.

The following schools in Dubai offer B.techs:

Cambridge International school

Winchester School

Jess at Arabian Ranches

Dubai British school


DBS Springs


Raffles International school

Greenfield Academy

Skills Academy

Gems Wellington Academy

If university is your child’s aim, it’s important to check the admissions policy. Some only accept grades not points and most children will have to do at least a couple of b-techs in order to get enough points to gain entry to their chosen course.

Part time studies

A few schools are offering children who have a particular passion the option to go part-time. The idea is that the child would attend school for half the day then spend the rest of the time studying their specialty subject, i.e, art or sport. This is a trial being rolled out in a few schools in Dubai. Your school will let you know if it is one of the chosen ones. Keep an eye out for local educational papers like ‘Young Times’, or the widely distributed ‘Kajheeli Times’, for updates.


Another option is to enroll in college. The campuses are mainly located in Academic City. These establishments  offer a variety of courses and again are mainly assessment driven.Some have a rolling admission so if your child decides part way through their A-levels or IB that that particular route doesn’t suit them, they could gain entry onto one of these courses.

One of the plus points of campus education, as opposed to school, is the more relaxed environment. Students are treated more like adults and less like children and are surrounded by older peers. The atmosphere is different to school even though it is still an educational establishment. This can be appealing after 14 years in a school. Also, it can help prepare the child for life outside school be it university or employment. College courses can often lead straight to a foundation degree. Have a look at the prospectus of each establishment and ask if you have any queries. They are always more than happy to explain future options.

The following colleges offer post 16 education:


Herriot Watt

National Institute for vocational education

Dubai SAE

London college of business and computing

Institute of management technology Dubai.

If your school fees are paid by an employer, do check their terms and conditions. Often an employer will fund further education at a school or college up to the end of year 13 or grade 12. If your chosen establishment doesn’t have these years then funding may not be offered. Fees for start from around 24000 AED per year.


Apprenticeships although becoming more common in the UK are few and far between in Dubai. That doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. It can be very appealing to work and be educated at the same time coming out at the end of three years with a job and no debt. is a useful site to search for apprenticeships and internships. More get added on every day so it’s a good idea to check frequently.

More and more educational establishments are opening in Dubai so there is bound to be something out there that will suit your child. Remember, our children will most probably live to be more than one hundred so whatever career or path they choose now will probably be completely different to the one they are following in twenty years time! As parents, the best thing we can do is to stay calm, offer support and keep on loving them.

Written by British mum Eirene Power.

Read more:

The early MBA programme that you’ll want for your teen

A seamless transition to Secondary – South View School’s winning formula for GCSE’s & A levels!

Boarding schools in the north of England and Scotland

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