Learn more about the UK Secondary system

Learn more about the UK Secondary system

UK secondary schools are typically divided into two compulsory phases:

Key Stage 3 (KS3): This phase covers students aged 11 to 14 and focuses on the core subjects of English, maths, science, history, geography, and a foreign language.

Key Stage 4 (KS4): This phase covers students aged 14 to 16 and focuses on preparing students for their GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) exams. Students take a variety of subjects, including some core subjects and a range of elective subjects.

At age 16 students can choose to study or move into a work based qualifications those that stay on in a secondary school will continue to Key Stage 5 and most likely study A-levels, typically studied at the ages of 16 to 18.

A-Levels are designed to provide students with a high level of academic challenge and to prepare them for further education, such as university, or for the world of work. Students typically study three or four A-Level subjects and take exams at the end of the two-year course.

In England, secondary schools can be either state-funded schools (also known as comprehensive schools) or independent schools (also known as private schools). State-funded schools are free to attend, while independent schools charge fees. Approximately 93% of UK students attend state funded schools.

Secondary schools in the UK vary in size and style, with some having a more traditional approach to education and others adopting more innovative or progressive methods. In general, secondary schools aim to provide students with a well-rounded education that prepares them for further education or the workplace.

What are academy schools?

Academy schools are a type of state-funded school in England. They are independent of local authority (local government) control and are instead sponsored by a variety of organizations, such as businesses, universities, or faith groups.

Academy schools have greater freedom over how they operate compared to traditional state-funded schools. For example, they have more control over their finances, curriculum, and staffing, and they are not bound by the national pay and conditions agreements for teachers. Although most do follow this in some form.

Academy schools are a unique aspect of the English education system and are not found in other parts of the UK.

What are local authority schools?

Local authority schools, also known as maintained schools or council schools, are state-funded schools in England that are managed and funded by the local education authority (LEA). The LEA is responsible for overseeing the school, setting its budget, and ensuring that it meets certain educational standards.

Local authority schools are open to all students and do not charge fees. They are required to follow the national curriculum and are subject to regular inspections by Ofsted, the independent regulator of schools in England.

Local authority schools form the majority of state-funded schools in England, and many are highly regarded for their academic standards and well-rounded education programs.