The school education system in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is divided into three stages:

  • Primary education
  • Pre Prep is also known as Infants - Reception class, Year 1 and Year 2 (4 to 7 years old)
  • Prep is also known as Juniors - Year 3 to Year 6 (7 to 11 years old)
  • Secondary education
  • Seniors - Year 7 to Year 11 (11 to 16 years old)
  • Further education
  • Year 12 and Year 13 also known as Sixth Form or Lower and Upper Sixth (16 years old to 18 years old).

The United Kingdom is renowned for its excellent educational system and high standard universities. To graduate from a British school or university is a fantastic ticket for a successful career in the UK or anywhere else in the world.

You may wish to study and improve your English or enroll onto a wide variety of courses and qualifications open to overseas students.

Education is important in the UK. Children must attend school from the age of 5 to 16 years old. As of 2015, all young people in England will be required to participate in education and/or training up to the age of 18. Thereafter, they will then move to secondary school, where at the age of sixteen, they will sit the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). These important exams test their knowledge in subjects under the national curriculum. After taking GCSEs students may leave secondary schooling, may go on to further education colleges (typically for vocational or technical courses) or may continue on an academic track and prepare for admission into university. Students continuing on an academic track take a higher level of secondary school exams known as A-Levels (short for Advanced level) after a further two years of study at a secondary school, sixth form college or further education college.

After high school or college, many students decide to go to University where they will be studying for three or four years in order to obtain their degree.


Most school children receive free education whilst others attend independent fee paying schools.

With the exception of children attending independent or private paying schools, most children attend school for free in the UK. However, students wishing to engage in post-secondary education, such as university, will need to incur their tuition fees.

These fees vary from one university to another and overseas students are usually required to pay higher tuition fees. For financial assistance with tuition, many students have the option of applying for a scholarship or a student loan.


The duration of a typical school year is 39 weeks and is comprised of six academic terms. Like most countries, the UK school year commences in September and ends in July.

Depending on the university, students usually start their year in September or October and finishes in May or June. The school year usually breaks for statutory holidays such as Christmas, Easter and summer.

The main holidays are at Christmas, Easter and Summer.