​Guide to UK education system

Choosing the right British institution to cater for each individual student’s requirements and learning style can appear to be an overwhelming decision. From verbal reasoning to numerical testing, from coursework to examinations, British students are subject to a variety of classroom styles and teaching methods.
British schools have maintained their excellent reputation for securing places in the top colleges for their students, and preparing young graduates for all aspects of university life.
 
A generalized description of the UK education system
The education system in the UK is divided into five 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.
·         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
·         Key Stage 5 - Years 12 to 13 - for pupils aged between 17 and 18 years old
 
1.      Primary Education
Primary education begins in the UK at age 5 and continues until age 11, comprising key stages one and two under the UK educational system.
The major goals of primary education are achieving basic literacy and numeracy amongst all pupils, as well as establishing foundations in science, mathematics and other subjects. Children in England and Northern Ireland are assessed at the end of the year.
 
2.      Secondary Education
From age 11 to 16, students will enter secondary school for key stages three and four and to start their move towards taking the GCSE's - learn more about secondary education in the UK and what it will involve. Primary and secondary education is mandatory in the UK; after age 16, education is optional.
In England, public provision of secondary education in an area may consist of a combination of different types of school, the pattern reflecting historical circumstance and the policy adopted by the local authority. Comprehensive schools largely admit pupils without reference to ability or aptitude and cater for all the children in a neighbourhood, but in some areas they co-exist with other types of schools, for example grammar schools.

3.      Further Education
Once a student finishes secondary education they have the option to extend into further education to take their A-Levels, GNVQ's, BTEC's or other such qualifications. UK students planning to go to college or university must complete further education.
In England, further education is often seen as forming one part of a wider learning and skills sector, alongside workplace education, prison education, and other types of non-school, non-university education and training. Since June 2009, the sector is overseen by the new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, although some parts (such as education and training for 14-19 year olds) fall within the remit of the Department for Education.

4.      Higher Education
Probably the most important subject area on this site, this explains more about the higher education system in the UK and how it works for international students. Most international students will enter directly into the UK higher education system, after completing their home country’s equivalent to the UK’s “further education.”
Higher education is defined as courses that are of a standard that is higher than GCE A level, the Higher Grade of the SCE/National Qualification, GNVQ/NVQ level 3 or the Edexcel (formerly BTEC) or SQA National Certificate/Diploma. There are three main levels of HE course consisting of Postgraduate courses, Undergraduate courses and other undergraduate courses.
 
5.      Vocational Education
Non-university post-secondary education takes place at a variety of technical schools, colleges of higher education and accredited independent colleges offering a wide variety of courses leading to formal vocational qualifications. Through these, those United Kingdom youths who do not go on the university are assured the opportunities of groundings in successful lifetime careers.
 
 
6.      Tertiary Education
The quality of United Kingdom universities is legion and students flock there from the 4 corners of the globe. The prescribed period for an undergraduate degree is 4 years, and these days more weight is gradually being added to assignments as opposed to formal examinations. Some universities offer crash two year programs with no vacations offered or allowed.
Following completion, graduate students may follow traditional paths through masters degrees, doctorates and research fellowships as they prefer.
 
Public schools in the UK
A public school, in common British usage, is a school which is usually prestigious and historic, which charges fees, does not arbitrarily restrict admissions, and is financed by bodies other than the state, commonly as a private charitable trust. Often but not always they are boarding schools. Confusingly to a non-native English speaker a public school is actually a private school! In British usage, a government-run school (which would be called a 'public school' in other areas, such as the United States) is called a state school.
Public schools played an important role in the development of the Victorian social elite. Under a number of forward-looking headmasters leading public schools developed a curriculum based heavily on classics and physical activity for boys and young men of the upper and upper middle classes.
While under the best circumstances the Victorian public schools were superb examples of education, the reliance on corporal punishment and the prefect system could also make them awful. The classics-based curriculum was criticised for not providing skills in sciences or engineering.
The public school system influenced the school systems of the British empire to an extent. Recognisably 'public' schools can be found in many Commonwealth countries.
Today most public schools are highly selective on academic grounds, as well as financial grounds (ability to pay high fees) and social grounds (often a family connection to the school is very desirable in admissions).
 
Costs
The costs for a normal education in the United Kingdom are as follows:
Primary: No Charge
Secondary: No Charge
Further (Secondary) Education in either a sixth form or college: No Charge if under 19 in that particular academic year or on a low income.
Higher / Tertiary Education (University): A tuition fee per year (varies from £1,000 to £9,000).
Primary and Secondary education can also be charged for, if a fee-paying (public) school is attended by the child in question.
 
Current situation
Emerging economies continue to grow and developed economies continue to be adaptive and productive. Despite the fact that Britain was the fastest growing economy in the G7 in 2014 to 2015, it is still sadly true that the productivity gap between the UK and the other G7 countries is currently 17%.
The smartest European graduates work for British banks. Talented coders come from American universities to Aldgate, to work for Über. And if they are going to prepare the next generation to succeed in that global race it is a dire need to give them a great education.
 
Related questions
a.      How is the daily timetable organized?
Each school organizes its timetable differently. Lessons might last 35, 40, 45, 55 or 60 minutes! For each subject, a student will attend classes for about 5 hours a week, and is also expected to undertake at least 6 hours private study. Students will usually also attend classes in General Studies, or Philosophy, or other similar subjects. There will also be time given to Physical Education or Sport, whether or not these are taken as subjects for studying. In England and Wales and in some Scottish schools the two years of Advanced Level, or International Baccalaureate study are often called "Sixth Form", but - once again - each school is different!
 
b.      What activities are organised outside lessons?
Along with sport, schools offer a substantial programme of "extra-curricular activities"; that is, activities which are able to offer students a wide range of experiences, intellectual, cultural and relaxing. Music, drama, science and literary societies are offered in all schools, and there will be opportunities for outdoor education and other leisure activities. Visits to theatres and concerts, to places relevant to the courses of study (such as art galleries and museums, religious centres or historical sites, scientific companies and projects) are all part of life in a school Sixth Form.
 
c.       Will the qualifications obtained in the UK be recognised back in my own country?
 
You will need to check with your own country's education authorities, and your country's universities to find out if they recognise and give credit for UK qualifications. Many do, but you need to ask about this in your own country.
 
d.      Will my qualifications that I get in the UK help me to enter a British university?
 
Yes, but remember that your scholarship will initially be for one year only, although many schools have been happy to extend the scholarship for a second year.
 
Depending on your course, this second year allows you to take the A2, Scottish Higher or IB exams (see above) which are used for UK University entry. Not all schools in the HMC Scheme are able to do this, however, so please do not assume that a second year in a UK will be available. You will also need to look at the fees which British Universities will charge: these are generally much higher different for students from outside the EEA, compared to the charge made to students from within the EEA. Visa requirements are also different for students at universities in the UK from those you may have dealt with as a school scholarship student. Some careful research is necessary for each country!

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