Shrewsbury School

School Leavers’ Programmes

While a high proportion of pupils from Shrewsbury School will choose to go on to university, a number of pupils each year choose to enter School Leavers’ Programmes. These programmes are a combination of a traditional apprenticeship-style workplace training, professional skills development, further education through professional qualifications and, in some cases, access to a specially selected university degree course.

Options range widely across the professions, from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst to Marks and Spencer, construction company Balfour Beatty and financial services firm KPMG. There are an increasing number of schemes each year, fuelled partly by employers’ interests in securing bright, able and enthusiastic applicants straight out of school, and also by pupils’ increasing uncertainty about how a university education can prepare them directly for the world of work.

Schemes do vary widely, even within the same sector, so research is important. But the key advantages are:

  • A professional training from a world-leading company
  • A salary from the first day of work
  • A guaranteed job at the end of the training period
  • University fees paid where a university degree is included in the programme
  • Professional-standard workplace training from the start of the scheme, with exposure to clients and responsibility given early
  • Tutoring and examinations for the relevant professional qualifications
  • Ongoing opportunity to apply classroom education to real world situations.

The key disadvantage for many pupils is that they may not feel ready to commit to one employer and one professional choice immediately out of school, especially for a scheme which may last four to six years in some cases. The longer schemes are designed to bring the school leaver participants out at the same level as the graduate recruits who join after university, but the advantage for those on the school leaver programmes is that they have substantially more work experience, earlier in their careers, which gives them greater professional mobility both inside and outside the company once the scheme is completed.

Most schemes will include:

  • An induction phase where new entrants get to know the company, often with a mentor and manager
  • On-the-job training under the supervision of a manager, including rotations around the company
  • Studying for international standard professional qualifications, plus in some cases a relevant university degree or diploma
  • Additional skills development programmes such as drafting and presentation skills.

Schemes can be applied for alongside UCAS university applications, as they are not connected to each other, so pupils can apply for both and keep their options open for longer.

To discuss School Leaver Programmes, please contact the Careers Department at

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