Levels of Education System in United Kingdom

The Education system in the UK is distributed over four main categories
  • primary education (primary schools) 
  • secondary education (secondary schools)
  • further education
  • higher education.
There are two "key stages": The Key stages 1 and 2 refer to the primary school and at 11 years old, a student will go on to secondary school and finish key stages 3 and 4. Students are evaluated at the end of each stage. 

In general at the age of 16, students go for General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). After completion students have options to chose for further education and then higher education.

In the United Kingdom, each of the countries has different education systems under different governments: the UK Government is in charge of England; the Scottish Government is responsible for Scotland, the Welsh Government is in charge of Wales and the Northern Ireland Executive is responsible for Northern Ireland. Students in the UK need to attend home school or other schools till the age of 16. 

Types of Schools

  • State Schools: In the UK, children aged five to 16 are allowed to attend state schools at free-of-charge. State schools are maintained and financed either by the government or by a local education authority.
  • Independent Schools: These are private or public schools and mostly funded privately from fees charged to students parents. 
  • Home Schooling or Home Education: Children aged 4- to 16-year are schooled at home, taught by their parents or tutors.

Primary Education

Primary education in the UK lasts for six year and starts at age 5 and continues until age 11. Primary education emphasizes on group and creative activities. Primary education lays groundwork for future education and learning. 

Secondary Education

From age 11 to 16, students will get into secondary school and proceed towards taking the GCSE's. 
From the age of 11-14, students will study a wide range of subjects such as Music, Maths, Sciences, English, and so on. When they reach 14, they enter the inaugural year of the GCSE. GCSE is about 2 years and marks the end of the compulsory education in the UK. Once the students have finished their GCSE's, then they have the option to either move into further education or face the employment.
  • GCSE's are a series of test that assesses the knowledge and competency levels of the students in the core subjects, i.e., English, Maths and Science. Students also get to select additional 4 or 5 subjects in which they want to take GCSE's.  These subjects are French, German, Business Studies, Design and Technology, Music, Sports, Science, Geography, History and many other choices. At state school level, students get to take 5 to 10 GCSE's, depending on the student's ability. For independent schools, which are results driven, emphasis is more on academic studies. 

Boarding Schools

A boarding school is a residential school where students live and study during the school year. Boarding schools offer a wide range of internationally-recognised qualifications in a variety of subjects, such as mathematics, history, geography, Information Technology, physics, literature and foreign languages. There are two types of boarding schools in the UK: Independent boarding schools and State boarding schools.
  • Independent Boarding Schools: Such schools charge tuition and boarding fee. Students from all nationalities can apply to independent boarding schools.
  • State Boarding Schools: In such schools, the tuition fee is free, but boarding accommodation charges are being borne by the students. UK and European Economic Area students can apply for state boarding schools. 

Further Education

The further education in the United Kingdom is imparted through Further Education (FE) Colleges and Community Colleges (CC/CCs). The certificates awarded through an FE or CC or recognized worldwide to enter in study programmes or apply for jobs. It consists of the following qualifications:
  • Technical Qualifications: This qualification is for 16 years old who have a clear idea about the field or occupation they want to pursue. This path provides the skills, training and qualifications one needs to enter and succeed in the chosen career. It equips students with a specialist knowledge they need for a specific occupation.
  • Applied General Qualification: Students aged 16-years- who wish to continue their education by learning about a vocational area rather than a single occupation, for example applied science, business or sport can opt for Applied General qualification.

Higher Education in the UK

Students aged 17 and above can opt for Higher Education. They should have already attained further education qualifications, such as A-levels, the International Baccalaureate (IB), or an equivalent qualification from the UK or another country to sit for Higher Education. UK proposes an immense variety of higher education opportunities. UK higher education qualifications include diploma, bachelors, foundation and post-graduate degrees. Most higher education courses have modular structure, i.e. you can make a personalized course by choosing modules or units of study from different subject areas.

Entry Requirements

In the United Kingdom, each level of education has varying requisites which must be met in order to gain entry at that level.
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