For the young person set on making Performance his or her career as an adult, there are several methods of achieving their goal.
The most recommended one is to attend an accredited course at one of the many colleges and/or drama schools at 18 years of age. The information on each of these colleges and their courses is plentiful on the internet. The choice is down to the young person, on what their eventual goal is, as to which course he or she attends. The National Council for Drama Training has an excellent site with information for those seeking information on further education at www.ncdt.co.uk. Of course you don't have to have formal training to be an actor but it should be remembered what an exceptionally competitive career it really is. With statistics showing most Equity actors working an average of only 11 weeks a year, and of all actors lucky enough to be working, 86% have had formal training, it really makes sense to give yourself as many advantages as you can!
The recommendation by the education council and by the industry in general, is to stay in mainstream education until you are 18, applying for a position at a drama school or college of your choice, in your final year. Gain valuable experience by joining a local youth theatre or drama group, watch as much live theatre as you can, read plays and books about performing and try to keep up-to-date with what is happening in the industry. Research your drama schools as early as you can so that you are prepared in advance for whatever their entry requirements might be - some might be GCSE's, or relevant BTEC Courses, as well as auditions. Surprisingly, the industry DOES NOT recommend full time stage schools as being the 'ideal' method of entry into the profession, although attending one does not bar you!
Before you can apply to a drama school at 18, there are some preliminary courses available that may benefit. At 16 most sixth form or college courses will require you to have four or five GCSE's at grade C or above. Once they have been achieved, courses available include, A level, BTEC, VCE and GNVQ all in various disciplines or general Performing Arts. Contact your local Education Authority to find out which courses are available, and where they are near to you. Also visit www.edexcel.org.uk for further information on the courses available for each qualifacation (e.g. BTEC foundation degree available in Acting, Dance, Musical Theatre, Drama, Performing Arts etc.) and information on the modules of each examination!