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Information about the school system

Please find below some general information about schooling in England, which you may find useful and informative:

  • Children start school earlier than in many countries; they often start at the age of 4 but this can vary depending on the local authority. Full-time education is compulsory for all children aged between 5 and 18 (from 16 until 18 it may be training or work based).
  • Children are placed in classes according to their age and not their level of achievement. Whether children have reached the expected level in their school work or not they move up to the next class year at the end of each school year (end of July).
  • Choosing a school and getting your child enrolled into a school can be complex. As parents you need to be aware that your child may not get a place in the school of your first choice.
  • Different types of schools have different admission requirements; most of them look at your address and its distance from the school, however, it could also be based on ability, religious observance, siblings, etc. Information about finding a school can be found here:
  • Most schools follow the National Curriculum but within that programme the schools and individual teachers have some choice about what to teach and how to organise learning: ‘Every state-funded school must offer a curriculum which is balanced and broadly based.  Academies are also required to offer a broad and balanced curriculum in accordance with Section 1 of the 2010 Academies Act.’ (DfE, National curriculum in England.) For more information please look here
  • Schools provide most of the equipment needed like textbooks and exercise books, however, they are usually kept at school and children only take home homework exercise books. Secondary schools sometimes lend text books to pupils. Some schools ask for voluntary financial contributions.
  • Schooling and lessons may appear more informal than in many countries. In primary schools children may not always sit at desks, instead they may sit on the carpet for some parts of the day. Sometimes children may be encouraged to work in pairs and/or groups.
  • Assessments – by the end of every summer term the most schools write a report on your child’s progress throughout that academic year.
  • Most children with Special Educational Needs (for example physical impairments or learning difficulties) attend mainstream schools and they may receive extra support in school.
  • Physical punishment is prohibited in all schools in England.
  • Most schools have a uniform which children must wear to school.

Education in England is divided into the following steps:

Age on August 31st Year Curriculum stage Type of  institution Compulsory
3 – 4 Nursery Foundation Stage Nursery Primary school No
4 -5 Reception Infant school Yes
5 – 6 Year 1 Key Stage 1
6 – 7 Year 2
7 – 8 Year 3 Key Stage 2 Junior school
8 – 9 Year 4
9 – 10 Year 5
10 – 11 Year 6
National tests and teacher assessments in English and maths, and teacher assessments in science
11 – 12 Year 7 Key Stage 3 Secondary school Yes
12 – 13 Year 8
13 – 14 Year 9
14 – 15 Year 10 Key Stage 4 / GCSE
Some children take GCSEs
15 – 16 Year 11
Most children take GCSEs or other national qualifications
16 – 17 Year 12 Sixth form / A level Further education (Sixth form or College) Yes
17 – 18 Year 13
18+ Undergraduate and Postgraduate Degrees Higher Education (University or College) No

All the above facts are accurate as of January 2019.  Please be aware that education policies are hanging rapidly and you may wish to check the most up to date information at