UK Education System
The UK education system is worldwide reputed for its high quality and standards. In general, the British higher education system has five stages of education: early years, primary years, secondary education, Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE). Britons enter the education system at the age of three and up to 16 are obliged to attend school (compulsory education), while afterward is upon their choice.
Besides sharing many similarities, the UK education system at different levels at each zone of administration (England, Scotland, and Wales) differs a bit. Generally spoken these differences are not so meaningful that we can talk about the UK higher education as being one.
In UK everybody, aged over 5 and under 16 is obliged to attend school. This aging time frame contains two sections of the education system in UK: Primary and Secondary School.
The Compulsory Education in UK
Key Stage 1
This stage includes pupils at the primary school aged 5 to 7 years old. Basically, during the key stage 1, kids are introduced to some of the most basic knowledge on subjects like the English language, Mathematics, History, Physical Education, Geography, History and Music. During the first year of this stage, the structure of the curriculum contains the Phonic screening, a short assessment of kids’ ability to decode and understand phonics properly. Typically, the student will speak loudly to his teacher a list of 40 words. At the end of this stage (same as in each of them), these pupils will sit for an examination aiming to measure their development in English, Maths and Science.
Key Stage 2
Between 7 to 11 years pupils will be in the second Key Stage of the compulsory education. Now the curriculum aims to move them further in gaining a bit more knowledge on core subjects. At the end of this stage, they will be tested in the following subjects
- English reading
- English grammar, punctuation and spelling
In English and Mathematics, the testing will be done through national assessment tests, while the teacher will independently assess the level of improvement of each student in Science.
Key Stage 3
Pupils aged 11 to 14 are in the third stage of compulsory education. To a certain degree, this period of their education is very important because only a few years later they will sit for the GCSE national qualification. The curriculum during this stage of education will also contain new subjects at which students are supposed to get some basic knowledge before moving any further in the upcoming stages of education. The subjects learned in Key Stage 3 are English, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, Art and Design, Music, Physical Education, Modern Foreign Languages, Design and Technology and Computing. At the end of the Key Stage 3, some students may take their GCSE or other national qualifications.
Key Stage 4
The final stage of the compulsory education, the Key Stage 4 lasts from the age of 14 to 16. This is the most common period of time for students to undertake the national assessment tests that will lead them to take a GCSE or other national qualifications.
The compulsory national curriculum at this stage contains the “core” and “foundation” subjects.
And these are the “foundation” subjects taught at the Key Stage 4:
- Physical Education
Additionally, schools in UK are obliged to offer one of the following subjects during this stage of education
- Design and Technology
- Modern Foreign Languages
The Higher Education System in the United Kingdom
In particular, the UK higher education is valued all over the world for its renowned standards and quality. Its higher education’s prestige it also emanates from its graduates’ work afterward. Many eminent people in many different areas whose work reached global recognition came out of British universities. Some of these universities and other higher education providers are ranked at the top among universities in the world. The UK capital city, London, not by accident, is considered to be the world’s capital city of higher education. With its four universities being ranked in the world’s top ten, London has the highest number of top worldwide ranked universities per city.
By definition, the UK higher education is the level of education that follows the secondary school at the hierarchy of educational system in the UK. When the high school is over, Britons have to sit in a standard examination, which makes them eligible or not to continue their education in the higher level of education.
In the UK education system in contrast to the US higher education, there is a difference between college and university. While in the US there is no distinction between college and university with most of the people referring to a higher education provider as a college, in the UK this is not the case. Here, a college is a Further Education institution which prepares its students to earn degrees, while a university is licensed HE institution so, at the end of it, students will gain a degree.