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Education Levels in the UK

Revision Guide

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This is a quick guide to explain the different education levels in the UK.

It is a very brief summary of the different levels in the UK education system for both children and adults, covering both compulsory and non-compulsory education for all ages.

In UK there are five stages of education.

Here is what each of those terms mean.

  1. Early Years
  2. Early years education refers to pre-school children aged 3-4.  Whilst the details of the amount of education provided by the government differs between the home nations, broadly speaking children of this age are entitled to some amount of government funded education each week during term time.

    The education provided tends to be focused on preparing children for school by giving children a start on literacy and numeracy as well as getting them used to the behaviour expectations of school, as well as helping them with socialisation. It is not compulsory for children in the UK to attend any Early Years education.

  3. Primary
  4. It is a legal requirement that all children between the ages of 5 (4 in Northern Ireland) and 16 receive education. This first level of compulsory education is known as Primary and refers to the education given to children up to the age of 11, except where they attend a middle school which goes up to age 13.

    The purpose of this is to give children a basic level of literacy and numeracy in preparation for secondary school.

  5. Secondary
  6. Secondary education refers to education between the ages of 11 and 16.  This usually culminates in the children sitting public exams such as GCSEs or Scottish National 4/5 exams.

  7. Further Education
  8. Further education refers any education undertaken by people over 16 years of age and includes:-

    - 16-18 year olds. Anyone between these ages must either remain in full time education (taking A-Levels, Scottish Highers, T Levels and other technical or vocational qualifications), take work based training such as an apprenticeship or spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training.

    - Any adults taking educational courses such as vocational training, literacy or numeracy courses, exam based courses or leisure courses.

  9. Higher Education
  10. Higher education is the name given to any study beyond GCE A levels and their equivalent which, for most full-time students, takes place in universities and other Higher Education Institutes and colleges. This refers to foundation degrees, bachelor degrees, higher degrees, teacher training and diplomas and certificates such as an HND or HNC.

For a more detailed explanation of the levels in UK education visit https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/ uploads/attachment_data/file/219167/v01-2012ukes.pdf             

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