Student on laptop studying

What is the A-level Progression Programme?

This is a one-year full programme of study designed to prepare students to begin A-levels after the year. We help you to build academic and transferable skills as well as subject-specific knowledge to ensure that when you start your A-levels, you can hit the ground running.

The Department of Education (DfE) are happy to be working with education providers to explore and pilot effective ways to support young people who are focused on progressing to A levels and other level 3 academic qualifications but may struggle to make the step up after completing their GCSEs. The Government is reforming qualifications for post-16 students, and we have taken this opportunity to invite Cirencester College to participate in the Academic Progression Programme (APP) pilot. The pilot’s aim is to ensure there is effective support for students now and in the future who may need an extra year to prepare for the step up to A levels before they eventually go on to university or into employment.  This might include GCSE resits, A level subject preparation,  improving study skills like research and independent learning, whilst also building confidence and having a little longer to explore their options and realise their aspirations.

Richard Neal
Department of Education (DfE)

What will I learn on the A-level Progression Programme?

All students do the following

Total 5.5 hours/week



  • Tutor
  • Communication Skills
  • Projects
  • Professional Skills

Decided by prior attainment

Total 6.0 hours/week



  • Maths, or Functional Skills
  • English
  • Enrichment if not doing both GCSEs

Students choose two options

Total 6.0 hours/week



  • Arts
  • Humanities
  • Life Sciences
  • Social Sciences

What's in the Life Sciences course?

This course focuses on the aspects of science needed for progression into level 3 courses in biology and sport sciences. It also includes some aspects of chemistry and physics which will help in those subjects.

There are six topics:

  • Energy and Supply
  • Nutrition
  • Movement
  • Control
  • Health and Disease
  • Genetics

For the life sciences course, a grade 3 in Maths is required. 

What's in the Social Sciences course?

This course focuses on the skills in psychology and sociology.

Topics include:

  • Crime
  • Representation in the media
  • Poverty and inequality
  • Research project – you will design and carry out your own research, helped by looking at a number of other studies and how they worked.

For the social sciences course, a grade 3 in Maths is required. 

What’s in the Humanities course?

This course focuses on the skills needed in A-level humanities, such as history, geography, religion and philosophy and many many others!

Topics include:

  • Mythology
  • Culture of burial
  • Civil rights
  • Living the good life
  • Globalisation
  • Natural Disasters
  • Deep Dive – India (coursework, you get to choose the area of focus)

What's in the Arts course?

This course is about getting you ready for A levels in creative arts, such as graphic design, textiles, fine art or 3D design. You’ll analyse a range of artists’ work and learn how to express yourself in several different media. A series of guided mini projects to develop your skills will be followed by a self-directed project.

Who is the A-level Progression Programme (APP) for?

This programme is particularly useful if you need an A-level route to progress in your career aim. APP is for students who have just missed the entry requirements for a full A-level programme and may need to improve their GCSE grades in English and Maths to progress to their chosen subject or career aim.

What are the entry requirements for the A-level Progression Programme?

There isn’t a particular set of grades you need for the APP instead we’ll meet with you to discuss whether or not the programme suits you. In many cases, students on the APP will have had some sort of barrier to achievement in GCSEs – perhaps long-term sickness, or having only been on the course for one year. You might have a spikey GCSE grade profile which shows you are strong in a couple of subjects but do not yet have the grades to begin a full level 3 A-level programme.

For the life and social sciences courses, a grade 3 in Maths is required. 

Can I do an apprenticeship or T-level after APP?

You can do an apprenticeship after APP but we wouldn’t recommend this route. The APP is designed to help you to an A-level study programme. If you would like to do an apprenticeship next, we would suggest that you look at a level 2 programme, go straight to an apprenticeship or perhaps look at the T-level transition year and then a T-level or apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships at Cirencester CollegeWhat are T-levels?What is the Transition Programme?