Does an Apprenticeship Count as Full Time Education?

Written by EAA Editor
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As we approach the beginning of a new school year, many 16-year olds across the country will be considering what they want to do next. Here at Employing an Apprentice we’re determined to champion all students, and all education paths. That’s why we want to explain to you what the law is on leaving school and starting an apprenticeship.

The law states that in the UK you must be in full-time education until you are 18. However, this can cause some confusion as it is not clear what classes as full-time education. And it leaves many unanswered questions regarding apprenticeships and their dual status of employment and education. 

The short answer to this question is, yes apprenticeships do count at full-time education in relation to the laws on leaving school. This means you may leave school at 16 and go on to an apprenticeship, and still be classed as in full-time education. The government states that if you want to leave school at 16 you must go on to one of the three things: 

  • Stay in full-time education, such as going to a sixth form or college.
  • Do an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • Spend at least 20 hours working or volunteering, alongside training or studying.

Why does an apprenticeship count as full-time education? 

For some people, it can be a bit off-putting that an apprenticeship counts as full-time education in the eyes of the law. However, full-time education does not mean in the classroom, or in a school environment the whole time. It simply means that students need to continue learning and developing at least until they are 18, in whatever way suits them best. 

As an apprenticeship combines employment with training and sets you on a path to a relevant and valuable qualification, it counts as sufficient learning for 16-18-year-olds.  

Why choose an apprenticeship at 16? 

So now that you know you are able to leave school at 16 to do an apprenticeship, you might want to know why you would choose an apprenticeship, instead of going to college or studying A-Levels: 

  1. Start earning money straight away 
  2. Get going on your career early, with a chance to progress through each level of apprenticeship 
  3. Learn and training in a practical environment outside of the classroom 
  4. Develop a trade, or skill 
  5. Get experience in the working world 
  6. Gain a valuable qualification without paying for tuition 

For more information on starting an apprenticeship at 16, have a read of our guide Who Can Start an Apprenticeship? 

Last Updated: Wednesday October 13 2021
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