The State Education System in the UK

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Unlike many countries, where there are either State or Private schools, the UK has an almost confusing mix of different types of schools, which get funding from different places and even offer different qualifications depending on where abouts you live or where you choose to go to school. Education is compulsary for all 5-16 year olds.

The School academic year starts in September.

Pre-School and Nursery

Pre-school groups are for children aged between 2-3 years old. Most of the time is spent playing, with the emphasis being learning through play. Pre-school groups are separate from schools often in community centres or church halls.

Nursery is for children from the age of 3 and is meant as a preparation for the child starting school in the next academic year. Nursery's are contained within primary schools, though the children play in a separate area to the older children. Basic learning like the alphabet and numbers is learned, but most of time still spent playing.

Primary School

Children throughout the UK join a primary school "reception" class in the academic year that they turn five, so depending on what time of year child is born, could be nearly five when start school or only just four. The next year(aged 5-6) they join a "year 1" class. The years increase so that when a child is 9-10 they are in a "year 5" class.

In most of England and Wales (except some boroughs/counties, for example Harrow) they cater for children until they are eleven (in Harrow this is twelve). In Scotland however a child is at primary school until they are twelve.

Some primary schools are denominational schools, where a particular religion forms part of the curriculum and traditions of a school. The school may also be partly run by the religious commuminty it represents, for example a Catholic school may recieve donations from the local diocese, and maybe involved with the board of governers.

Secondary Schools

Due to differences in secondary education throughout the country this section shall be looked at separately for each region.


There are several different types of secondary schools, which differ mainly by who is in charge of management as all are obligated to teach the national curriculum.

Community Schools: Formally called "County Schools" these are run directly by the Local Education Authority(LEA) which owns the land and employs staff etc. Usually cater for children up to the age of 16. These schools are non-selective and the LEA has an obligation to make sure every child in the borough has a secondary school place.

Foundation Schools: Previously called "Grant-maintained" the school governing body employs staff

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