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UK Education System

Everything you should know

Education System


The education system in the UK is divided into four main parts, primary education, secondary education, further education and higher education. Children in the UK have to legally attend primary and secondary education which runs from about 5 years old until the student is 16 years old. 


The education system in the UK is also split into "key stages" which breaks down as follows: 

  • Key Stage 1: 5 to 7 years old 

  • Key Stage 2: 7 to 11 years old 

  • Key Stage 3: 11 to 14 years old 

  • Key Stage 4: 14 to 16 years old 

Generally key stages 1 and 2 will be undertaken at primary school and at 11 years old a student will move onto secondary school and finish key stages 3 and 4. 

Overview of the education system in the UK is divided into five main sections


  • Primary education 

  • Secondary education 

  • Further education 

  • Higher education  

11 Plus Exam

Admission exam to Grammar or Independent School

The 11+ is a selective entrance examination for secondary school, used by both state-funded grammar schools and many private schools to identify the most academically-able children. 

The exam is taken towards the end of Year 5 or beginning of Year 6 of primary school. 

The content and structure of the 11+ exam varies between different areas of the country, but it will generally focus on a combination of the following four subjects: 

  • English 

  • Maths 

  • Verbal reasoning 

  • Non-verbal reasoning

Although the content of the English and maths tests tend to follow the National Curriculum, verbal and non-verbal reasoning are not subjects that are taught as part of the curriculum in state primary schools. 


For further Career options

The most important assessment occurs at age 16 when students pursue their GCSE's or General Certificate of Secondary Education. Once students complete their GCSE's they have the choice to go onto further education and then potential higher education, or finish school and go into the working world. 

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