- An overview of the British Education System
The school education system in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is divided into three stages:
- Primary education
- Secondary education
- Further education
Pre Prep is also known as Infants – Reception class, Year 1 and Year 2 (4 years old to 7 years old)
Prep is also known as Juniors – Year 3 to Year 6 (7 years old to 11 years old)
Seniors – Year 7 to Year 11 (11 years old to 16 years old)
Year 12 and Year 13 also known as Sixth Form or Lower and Upper Sixth (16 years old to 18 years old).
By law, all chidlren of compulsory school age (betwen 5 and 16) must receive a full-time education. A National Curriculum was introduced in the UK in 1992 and state schools are required to adhere to it until age 14 while independent or ‘public schools’ are not obliged to do so.
After five years of secondary education, students take exams in a range of subjects at the level of General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). The GCSE is a single subject exam set and marked by independent exam boards. British students usually take up to ten GCSE exams in different subjects, including mathematics and English language. Students are given a letter score of A-G where A is the top grade. A, B or C grades are regarded as equivalent to the ‘pass’ grades in the previous GCE exam, known as O-Level.
After taking GCSEs students may leave secondary schooling, may go on to further education colleges (typically for vocational or technical courses) or may take a higher level of secondary school exams known as A-Levels (typically in 2-4 subjects) after a further two years of study. A-Levels (short for Advanced level) are required for university entrance in the UK.
Independent schools, ‘private schools’ or ‘public schools’ are privately funded from tuition fees and are independent of government control although the majority follow the National Curriculum and sit GCSEs and A-levels.