Post-16 Education

In this section:

For post-16 students in Portsmouth, the majority of provision is provided by further education (FE) colleges including City of Portsmouth College, (a merger between Highbury and Portsmouth Colleges) and Havant and South Downs College (HSDC). There are also a mix of private training providers offering a range of vocational qualifications and apprenticeships. UTC Portsmouth opened in September 2017, offering further opportunities for young people aged 16-18 interested in pursuing a STEM-based curriculum.

There is a strong higher education offer in the travel to learn area. Many young people from Portsmouth choose to study in local universities or colleges offering higher education provision. The higher and degree apprenticeship offer is developing and this is offering further opportunities for young people to progress to higher education through employment.

The University of Portsmouth works closely with both primary and secondary schools, and with FE colleges across the city to raise aspiration to higher education, break down perceived barriers to university and help students understand the range of courses and pathways available to them. Parental engagement is also a priority.

The Post-16 Forum is in place to monitor and deliver a partnerships approach to post-16 participation, progression and achievement.


Portsmouth College

All young people in England are required to continue in education or training until at least their 18th birthday. Local authorities have broad duties to encourage, enable and assist young people to participate in education or training. This includes ensuring there is sufficient suitable education and training provision for all young people aged 16-19, or aged 19-25 and with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.

Local authorities are required to collect information about the young people so that those who are not participating can be identified and offered support to re-engage. Tracking also helps to identify where there might be gaps in provision. The data is reported and published nationally.

In 2014 Portsmouth City Council implemented a successful three-year action plan to support participation and reduce the number of young people who are not in education, training and employment (NEET). This work continues and is supported by our local further education colleges.

Useful links:


Highbury College

City of Portsmouth College, UTC Portsmouth and other colleges in the travel to learn area including Havant & South Downs CollegeFareham CollegeSt Vincent College and CEMAST offer a range of provision and levels.

Like schools, the post-16 education landscape has been undergoing significant change.

Following the publication of the post-16 skills plan there was significant reform to A Levels and the introduction of Technical Levels.

The government is currently carrying out a review of post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below in England. The review aims to ensure that there are clearer qualifications choices for young people and adults and that each funded qualification has a clear purpose and progression route.

There are currently no clear dates for publication of the review, however further information can be found on the website.

In January 2021 the government published the Skills for jobs white paper that will have a significant impact on further education. The white paper signals a range of changes that include an increase of employer influence and input for qualifications, business hubs and the potential for outcome-based funding.


Highbury College

A number of reforms to apprenticeships and funding have taken place over recent years. The reforms to apprenticeships and the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy have had a major impact on the availability and status of apprenticeships which are now available up to postgraduate level.

Local colleges, training providers and higher education institutions all offer apprenticeships.

Portsmouth City Council is a partner of the Solent Apprenticeship Hub. The Hub provides guidance to employers and potential apprentices on the opportunities available.

For teachers and careers leads the ASK Programme offers a wide range of resources.

Locally we work with Aspire Learning who deliver the ASK Programme in our schools.

A partnership between Portsmouth City Council, Shaping Portsmouth, University of Portsmouth, Aspire Learning, Solent LEP and the Solent Apprenticeship Hub works to deliver activities during National Apprenticeship Week (the first week in February) on an annual basis.


T-Levels have been gradually rolled out since September 2020, with more courses being introduced each year up until September 2023. These are two-year courses that are taken after GCSEs and are equivalent in size to three A-Levels.

A T-level is a vocational qualification that focuses on technical skills and helps to prepare students for work or further education and training. Each course includes a 45-day industry placement that supports students to gain experience in the workplace. The idea is that students spend 80% of their time in classroom learning and 20% in a meaningful industry placement.

Further information on T-Level qualifications for both students and employers can be found on the T-Levels website. There is also additional guidance for parents and carers.


A Post-16 Forum exists across the Portsmouth travel-to-learn area and will continue to operate. It provides an essential forum for post-16 providers, with representatives from secondary schools, Solent LEP, University of Portsmouth, EBP South and UTC Portsmouth.

The Forum has been instrumental in addressing the previously high proportions of young people not in education, training and employment (NEET) through the successful Youth NEET Prevention Programme. This is underpinned by improved data sharing, tracking of young people and targeted careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG).

The Forum regularly maps the curriculum across the travel-to-learn area, seeking to address any weaknesses in the post-16 offer. This has led to additional Level 1 provision for young people with SEND, including:

  • Highbury College’s Arundel Centre for SEMH
  • Portsmouth College’s provision for SLD and PD
  • an increase in supported internships.