The British Education System Explained

In England, free education is provided by local government authorities to all children and must attend full time education up until the age of 16. Or children can attend an independent school and fees are then payable by parents.

In England and Wales the government introduced the National Curriculum in 1988. All state schools are required to the curriculum but Independent schools are not required to follow it exactly, but they must show that they provide a good all-round education and have inspections every few years.

How does the National Curriculum work?

Taken from the HMC click here for more details.

The National Curriculum is constructed in five Key Stages:

    • Key Stage 1 – Foundation year and Years 1 to 2 – for pupils aged between 5 and 7 years old
    • Key Stage 2 – Years 3 to 6 – for pupils aged between 8 and 11 years old
    • Key Stage 3 – Years 7 to 9 – for pupils aged between 12 and 14 years old
    • Key Stage 4 – Years 10 to 11 – for pupils aged between 15 and 16 years old, and
    • Key Stage 5 – Years 12 to 13 – for pupils aged between 17 and 18 years old.

At the age of 16 (the end of Key stage 4 and Year 11), all pupils take a series of exams called the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) They are examined in between eight to ten subjects, which must include English and Mathematics.

Key Stage 5 is for pupils aged 16-18 (sometimes 19) and then some children can carry on in most schools to take Advanced Level exams after a two-year course.