School system in the UK

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The UK school system is made up of four different subsystems. In Scotland , Wales , Northern Ireland and England, for example, there are separate school systems that are similar, but whose content and structures are determined by local authorities. In principle, the systems in Wales, Northern Ireland and England are mostly geared towards specialist knowledge, but the system in Scotland is geared towards general knowledge.

In the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland , most of the pupils who have completed elementary school (comparable to German primary school ) attend the so-called comprehensive school (comparable to German comprehensive school ). However, you can also choose between the Grammar School and the Independent Schools , or Public Schools (comparable to a private school in Germany ).

In the USA the term is private and in England public school . This has its origins in the fact that schools used to be expensive and only the nobles and wealthy could pay for their children to attend school. The Eton College , founded in 1440, is the oldest public school. At that time, pupils from all parts of England were allowed to attend this school for the first time and not, as was customary until then, only from the surrounding neighborhood.

According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) about 160,000 children attend UK no school but get home schooling ( home schooling ).

Comprehensive School

In the Comprehensive School, the students can choose their own path depending on their talent and interests.

Each student decides at the end of the ninth grade which exams ( General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) ) they want to take at the end of the 11th grade at the age of around 16 years. However, English, mathematics and science are compulsory subjects. These exams are taken in eight to eleven individual subjects, with the material being based on the tenth and eleventh grades and the preparations starting from the tenth grade. This qualification roughly corresponds to the German secondary school qualification or the secondary school leaving certificate . Then you can decide whether you want to attend a voluntary secondary school, start training or stay at the Comprehensive School for another two years and the so-called A-Levels (general higher education entrance qualification , insofar as comparable to the German Abitur or Matura ) in normally three to four Free choice of subjects.

Sections and types of schools

The school system is divided into the following sections and types of schools:

  • Primary School (Infant School) for students aged 3–5
  • Primary School (Junior School) for students aged 5–11
  • Secondary School or High School (or Comprehensive School) for students aged 11–16

During this training, four official exams are taken ( Key Stage National Curriculum Tests ), the fourth is the so-called General Certificate of Secondary Education ( GCSE ) . It is graded from A * (best grade) to G or U (not assessable).

  • Sixth Form (Upper School) for students aged 16–18
    • (if the exam is not passed, there is a "lap of honor")
    • You do your A-Levels (Abitur) in three to five subjects of your own choice. A-Levels consist of 7 modules. 4 AS modules after the first year and 3 A2 modules at the end of the sixth form. Sixth Forms are often part of a secondary school. ( GCE )
  • College for students aged 16-18
    • Here you can take A-Levels, but also complete the school-based part of a vocational training course, for example a hairdresser.
  • university
    • The first degree ( first degree ) or Bachelor is normally achieved after three years.
    • A Master’s degree is usually achieved after one to three additional years following the Bachelor’s degree.
    • A further three years of study are usually required for the doctorate (PhD) .

School system in Scotland

The Scottish school year always starts in August and ends in late June. The school year is divided into three parts, which are called terms. The first term in the 2005/06 school year lasted from August 18 to December 23, the second term from January 9, 2006 to March 31, 2006 and the last term from April 18 to June 29, 2006.

Pre-school education

The three- and four-year-olds undergo free, so-called pre-school education . The work here is a collaboration between local authorities, volunteers and private individuals. The week consists of five school days and each school day lasts two and a half hours. The duration differs depending on the local authority. Even diapers are distributed at the entrances and exits.

Primary Schools

Students between the ages of 5 and 12 are comparable to primary school. The first class is referred to as Primary 1 (p1) and the counting is continued accordingly.

Secondary Schools

The Scottish school system is a comprehensive school system. Up until the 1970s there were three secondary schools in Scotland: the Grammar School , the Secondary Modern School , and the Technical School . In order to achieve equal opportunities, this system was abolished in favor of a comprehensive school, the Comprehensive School .

Classes start at 9:00 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m. The schools are equipped with canteens or school canteens. Here the students are provided with lunch. The school lessons last 50 or 55 minutes. The first class at a secondary school is called S1 (Secondary 1). Here, too, the counting method is continued accordingly, i.e. the designation of the last possible class S6.

Most schools, but not all, require students to wear uniforms so that all students appear equally dressed for class. Uniforms usually consist of a shirt, tie, trousers or a skirt and a jacket or sweater.

After eleven years of school, you can decide whether to leave school with the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and begin training. The alternative is to spend two more years in school to complete the General Certification of Advanced Education (GCE A-Level) and thereby gain university entrance qualification.

The range of subjects in a secondary school includes:

  • Modern Languages ​​- selection of a foreign language. You can choose from German, French, Spanish or Italian. In some schools, Gaelic is also offered as such a “foreign language”.
  • History - history
  • Technical Education
  • Information Technology
  • Physical Education (PE) - Sport
  • Social education
  • Science
  • Art
  • Geography
  • Mathematics (Maths)
  • English
  • Modern Studies - Comparable to social studies or political classes
  • Home Economics - home economics class
  • Religious Education (RE)
  • Music
  • drama
  • Economics
  • Business
  • Media

In the first two years these are all compulsory subjects. In the third and fourth years there is the possibility of elective subjects, whereby math, English and natural science remain compulsory.

Denominational Schools

These schools are mostly Roman Catholic schools.

Independent schools

Private school , which includes private schools and public schools . These schools charge school fees and are not bound by the national curriculum. However, you are obliged to take the same exams as state schools.

Gaelic Medium Schools

Gaelic, in German Gaelic , is the old Celtic language of Scotland. This is used together with English at around 60 primary schools . Assignments and other subjects are taught in Gaelic there. At the same time, it is also considered an independent subject. In the subsequent secondary schools , lessons take place in the same way. There are different courses in which the students are divided according to their abilities. Most of the time, Gaelic is taught in highland schools. But Gaelic can also be found in the curriculum at various schools in the Central Belt or the Midlands.

Repeat a grade

Repeating a grade is not possible in the UK. The courses taken are either censored with "passed" or "failed" and documented in the certificate. The consequences may be that in the next year a course that builds on a failed course cannot be taken.

School holidays

The schools do not usually determine the holidays themselves. Public schools have longer vacation periods than state schools. In autumn there is the Autumn Half Term in the middle of the Autumn Term, followed by the Christmas Holidays around Christmas and New Year, around February the Spring Half Term (Spring Term), around Easter the Easter Holidays, followed by the Summer Half in May Term (Summer Term) follow. Depending on the school, the summer holidays begin in early or mid-July and last around six weeks.


  • The English school system is one of the best in the world if you survive it! ( Peter Ustinov )

Individual evidence

  1. to British Council Germany - FAQ
  2. Homeschooling & Co. as an alternative? Retrieved on February 20, 2020 (German).

Web links