How does the UK education system work? 

Updated on: Jul 30, 2023

The UK education system is divided into four main stages: primary education, secondary education, further education, and higher education.

Primary education typically begins at the age of 4 or 5 and lasts until the age of 11. Children in England and Wales usually attend a primary school, while in Scotland they attend a primary school or a junior school.

Secondary education begins at the age of 11 or 12 and lasts until the age of 16 or 18, depending on the country and educational path. In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, students attend a secondary school, while in Scotland, they attend a high school.

Further education (FE) provides education and training beyond secondary education, including vocational qualifications, apprenticeships, and A-level courses. FE colleges and sixth form colleges offer courses to students aged 16-19.

Higher education (HE) refers to education provided by universities and other institutions that award degrees. Most undergraduate courses in the UK take three years to complete, while postgraduate courses take one or two years.

The UK education system is overseen by the government, and each country in the UK has its own education system and qualifications framework. There are also several private schools and international schools in the UK that offer alternative educational paths.