The English Education system

Education in England and Wales is compulsory for all children between the ages of 5 and 16.

Pupils time at school is divided into 11 years which is in turn split into 4 key stages (or 5 if non-compulsory post 16 education is also included). A summary of the years and key stages is shown below:

Age Range Year Key Stage Also known as Compulsory
3-4   Foundation Nursery No
5-6 1 Key Stage 1 Infant Yes
6-7 2
7-8 3 Key Stage 2 Primary
8-9 4
9-10 5
10-11 6
11-12 7 Key Stage 3 Secondary
12-13 8
13-14 9
14-15 10 Key Stage 4
15-16 11
16-17 12 Key Stage 5 Sixth Form / College No
17-18 13

External exams and Key Stage Tests

In order to monitor a students progress thtroughout their school career they will sit a series of short tests as well as sitting external exams at the end of Key Stage 4 (or Key Stage 5 if the student chooses to extend their schooling).

Key Stage 2 and 3 Tests (SATs)

All eligible students will sit Standard Assessment Tasks, also known as National Tests or SATs at the end of each Key Stage. Schools throughout the country all use the same test (although for some tests there are several tiers of entry to cater for different abilities). Students will be awarded a level based on their test marks which indicates their ability when compared with the national average. Currently external tests (ie not set by the schools themselves) are sat in English, Maths, Science (and ICT at Key Stage 3).

End of Key Stage 4 exams

There are currently many different exams that students xan take as final exams. By far the most common are General Certificates of Secondary Education or GCSEs. GCSEs can be sat in most subjects and are recognised by employers and colleges throughout the country. As well as the final exam, most GCSEs will use evidence from coursework completed throughout Key Stage 4 to determine the final grade awarded. Grades are awarded from A* to G with A* being the highest grade.