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Education System in the United Kingdom

Education System in the United Kingdom

The education system in the UK is divided into four main parts: primary education, secondary education, further education and higher education. In the UK the full-time education is compulsory for all children between the ages of 5 and 16 (primary and secondary education).

Stages of Primary and Secondary Education

  • STAGE 1: 5 to 7 years old
  • STAGE 2: 7 to 11 years old
  • STAGE 3: 11 to 14 years old
  • STAGE 4: 14 to 16 years old

Students are assessed throughout the course of their education, with the most important assessment being the GCSEs, or General Certificate of Secondary Education. Once students complete their GCSEs, they have the choice of going on to further education and then potentially higher education, or finish school and enter the working world.

Primary Education

Primary education in the UK begins at the age of 5 and continues until the age of 11, combining key Stages 1 and 2 of the UK education system.

Secondary Education

From the age 11 to 16, students enter secondary school for the key Stages 3 and 4 and start their preparation towards taking the GCSEs. Primary and secondary education is mandatory in the UK; after the age of 16, education is optional.

Further Education

Once a student finishes secondary education, he/she has an option to continue his/her further education and to take their A-Levels, GNVQs, BTECs, or other similar qualifications. UK students, who are planning on going to college or university, must complete further education. 

Higher Education

Higher education includes diploma courses, undergraduate programmes, postgraduate programmes, MBAs and PhDs. Most international students will be able to gain access to the UK higher education directly after completing their home country’s equivalent to the UK’s “further education” qualifications. 

Entry Requirements

Each level of education in the UK has different requirements that must be satisfied in order to gain entry to that level. We are happy to provide you with more information about the education entry requirements in the UK.

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