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Qualifications and Course Levels

There are many ways that young people can gain experience and knowledge, prepare themselves for the world of work and develop independence skills.

Academic Qualifications - a formal style of learning based more on theory than practical activities. Examples are GCSE's and A Levels.

Vocational Programmes - learning involving more practical activities. Examples are BTECs, NVQs and ASDAN.

Work Based Programmes - learning while in a working environment. This is a practical way to learn in real life day to day situations whilst working towards an industry related qualification. Examples are Supported Internships, Traineeships and Apprenticeships 

Course Levels

Course levels and equivalent courses


Equivalent to

Pre-entry, Entries 1, 2, 3 and ASDAN

First level courses in college to help you to become more independent or improve your life skills

Level 1

GCSE Grade 4

Level 2

GCSE Grade 5 and above

Level 3

A Level

Level 4

First year of university

All courses at level 4 and above (including foundation degree courses) are not funded through the local authority. Disabled Students Allowance funding is provided by the Higher Education Funding Council. Find out more by visiting GOV.UK.

Course Levels by Provider

The table below shows the course levels for further education offers in Bedford:-



Age range



Further detail

Bedford College Group:

Foundation Skills Programme


Young people requiring additional support to progress to further study or employment

No entry requirements

Access to a range of opportunities dependent on need including English/Maths, work preparation, vocational options, independent living skills. Provides stepping stone towards Level 2

Bedford College Group:



Young people with a range of SEND

Level 2,3

Mainstream college courses

Bedford College Group:

Steps to Independence


Young people from local special schools

Entry Level


Development of independence skills and engagement with local community

Youth Inspired



Young people with LDD, autism and or mental health needs seeking an alternative to mainstream college placement

Entry Level 1,2,3

Level 1

Bespoke programme with strong emphasis on personal development and communication

Heywood House (Luton)


19 and above

Young people with profound and multiple learning difficulties

Pre-entry level

Entry level

Accredited educational programmes alongside health provision including physiotherapy and hydrotherapy

SENSE Bedford



Young people with dual or single sensory impairments with complex needs

Pre entry level (learning for life pathway) and range of accredited courses  and supported internships

Programmes focussed on communication and sensory skills and physical/emotional wellbeing





Young people with a wide range of learning difficulties and disabilities including ASD

Entry Level to Level 2

Functional skills (English,Maths,IT), vocational options and work placements. Will take students with challenging needs post 19




No Limits



16 and above

Young people with disabilities and complex additional needs including autism and social, emotional and mental health needs

Up to Level 2

Recently developed provision. Operates through Milton Keynes College. Bespoke programme with a number of pathways. Works in partnership with local providers and with families

Central Beds College


16 to 25

Young people with a range of different learning needs

Pre Entry level, Entry level

Level 1

Provides a range of vocational pathways

Moulton College


16 to 25

Young people with a range of needs who may have previously attended special schools or alternative provision

Entry Levels 1 to 3

Provides vocational programmes and supported internships


16 to 25

Young people who want to explore a variety of different sectors to better understand career options

Levels 1-3

Access to Skills Academy at either Entry Level or Level 1

One year course

Sports coaching (Level 2 and 3) ad skills academy (levels 1,2 and 3)




Young people with SEND or debilitating anxiety often from mainstream schools or ASC provisions

Entry level to GCSE

Provides a variety of programmes including functional skills, life skills and vocational skills. 1-3 year programme as a stepping stone to other provision

RB Air


Pre 16


Young people with complex mental health needs

Up to GCSE

Reading age of 10+ as an entry requirement

Curriculum on-line working towards face to face sessions

Milton Keynes College


16 -19

Post 19

Young people with a range of SEND

Level 2

Mainstream college courses

Barnfield College




Young people with a range of SEND

Level 1 (for some subjects)

Level 2

Mainstream college courses