Education System in United Kingdom (UK)


In the UK, the education system is divided into four main parts, primary education, secondary education, further education and higher education. Children in the UK is mandatory to attend primary and secondary education which runs from 5 to 16 years old.

Primary Education

Primary education begins in the UK at age 5 and continues will age 11, comprising key stages one and two under the UK educational system.

  • Stage 1 (Reception, age 5)
    • Year 1, age 5 to 6
  • Year 2, age 6 to 7 (KS1 National Curriculum Tests – England only)
  • Stage 2 (Junior School or Primary School)
    • Year 3, age 7 to 8
    • Year 4, age 8 to 9
    • Year 5, age 9 to 10
    • Year 6, age 10 to 11 (Eveven plus exams in some areas of England, Key Stage 2 National Curriculum Tests)

Secondary Education

From age 11 to 16, students will enter secondary school for key stages three and four and start their move towards taking the GCSE’s

  • Middle School, High School or Secondary School
    • Year 7, old First Form, age 11 to 12
    • Year 8, old Second Form, age 12 to 13
    • Year 9, old Third Form, age 13 to 14 (Key Stage 3 National Curriculum Tests, known as SATs (Standard Assessment Tests))
  • Upper School or Secondary School
    • Year 10, old Fourth Form, age 14 to 15
    • Year 11, old Fifth Form, age 15 to 16 (old O Level examinations, modern GCSE examinations)

Further Education

Once a student finishes GCSE from the secondary education they have the option to extend into further education to take their A-Levels, GNVQ’s, BTEC’s or other such qualifications. UK students planning to go to college or university must complete further education. Upper School, Secondary School or Sixth Form College

  • Year 12 or Lower Sixth, age 16 to 17 (AS-level examinations)
  • Year 13 or Upper Sixth, age 17 to 18 (A2-level examinations. Both AS-levels and A2-levels count towards A-levels)

Higher Education

Probably the most important stage of life. Higher education is education provided by universities and other institutions that award academic degrees, like university colleges, and liberal arts colleges. Higher education includes both the teaching and the research activities of universities. Most professional education is included among higher education, and lost of postgraduate qualifications are strongly vocationally or professionally oriented, for example in disciplines such as lawyer, doctor and accountant.

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