Whats Next ?

It's a tricky time for those leaving school or college, perhaps more so now given the economic climate. Young people are being forced to think longer and harder about each move they make, from choosing GCSEs in year 9 to venturing out later on into the world or higher education or work.

Although so much is out there for you when it comes to education, training and employment, it can be difficult to untangle one qualification from the next, become familiar with your options and know how, and where, to get expert help.

That's why Directgov has launched What's Next in order to support you in your education and help you make the right decisions about your future.

What exactly is What's Next?

What's Next is a resource from the government for those in and leaving education, as well as for their parents.

The idea is to give young people a central place where they can access information and guidance which is written in a clear and easy-to-understand way.

The website covers all sorts about secondary school and college education, training, financial support, as well as giving direction about university and practical career advice.

Who are they?

Directgov is the nation's official website for its citizens and does a lot more than provide information for young people. The broader website is there to provide user-friendly help and advice on all government services. Education is one amongst many, which includes transport, tax, crime and unemployment - all in one place and all in plain English.

The site attracts 18 million visitors a month and can be accessed at any internet-enabled mobile phone and on TV, as well as on the internet.

What's Next is a joint initiative between the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Keep your eyes peeled for the What's Next TV and radio campaign, which features the voice of Mighty Boosh star, Julian Barratt.

What's on the site for me?

So what will you actually find if you go on the site?

Well, click on the 'Options up to 19' button on the What's Next Site and you will be taken through to through to area which is relevant to you guys, giving you info on learning at school and sixth form level, college, university, the types of qualifications out there, finance, and more.

The site is split into categories which meet your specific age groups and divides up the relevant topics.

Those in, or entering, years 10 and 11 can find out about the path to GCSEs, choosing which subjects to take, work experience, and school problems.

If you're post 16, or soon to be, then discover more about sixth form and university, with information on getting in to higher education and details on the tricky bits, such as working whilst you study or getting financial support. Get to grips with other options too, from doing a gap year to learning more about less well-understood qualifications, such as apprenticeships and the work skills based Entry to Employment.

If you're puzzled by the prospect of getting financial help whilst you study then check out the 'money to learn' section which clears away the fog surrounding initiatives such as Educational Maintenance Allowance, Care to Learn benefits and other methods of getting help with funding your education.

For those of you whose key concerns are acing coursework and exams, then access the site for hints and tips on getting on top of your work, becoming organised and being in the know.

This, and much more, can be found at the 14-19 area of What's Next.

A place for parents too!

What's next is just as much for parents as it is for their children - a way of getting clear and accessible information regarding education and the options that are out there.

Tony Singleton, Chief Operating Officer at Directgov, said: "All parents want to ensure their children get the best start to their independent, adult lives. In order to help parents feel informed, so that in turn their children can make confident decisions about their futures, parents need to understand all the options that are available."

Check out the site at www.direct.gov.uk/whatsnext