I always find it really interesting learning about other countries education systems so I thought I’d attempt to explain the English education for my non-English followers and friends.

If you are English, please tell me if I have written something wrong because I know it does vary slightly regionally. Oh and by the way this is based on my experience of education so I have no idea if primary school has changed slightly because I went to primary school like 5 years ago.

Right, lets begin.

Primary school:
Year Reception – age 4-5.
Year 1 – age 5-6.
Year 2 – age 6-7.
Year 3 – age 7-8.
Year 4 – age 8-9.
Year 5 – age 9-10.
Year 6 – age 10-11.

In primary school the only exams we do are called SATS and we only take them in English (spelling and comprehension) and maths (although they may have introduced science ones now). You do SATS in summer every year from Year 2 onwards (I think) but only in Year 6 – the final year – do your SATS exam papers get sent off to be marked. SATS are graded from 1-5 with 5 being the highest result. Your SATS grades don’t really count towards anything other than determining which set you are placed into for maths and English in Secondary school.

Secondary school:
Year 7 – age 11-12.
Year 8 – age 12-13.
Year 9 – age 13-14.
Year 10 – age 14-15.
Year 11 – age 15-16.

Years 7 & 8 are basically just to get you used to secondary school life. You are taught a range of subjects and get no choice over what you study. In my school, the subjects I did in Years 7 and 8 were: English, maths, science, humanities (history, religious studies and geography combined), French, ICT, drama, art and music.

Now, this is where it can get a little confusing as it is up to the school to decide whether to start GCSEs (the main secondary school examinations) in Year 9 or Year 10. My school starts them in Year 9, so I’ll explain it this way.

At the end of Year 8, you get to pick 4 options for your GCSE subjects which (in my school) we start in Year 9. You get a choice because the only compulsory GCSEs you have to study are maths, English, religious studies and science. Therefore you don’t have to do art, drama, music, humanities or French anymore so you have a lot of free hours to fill.

So, for my GCSEs I chose to study Triple science (which is just an addition to the compulsory science), History, Geography and French.

I spent the whole of Year 9 and 10 learning the course content for my GCSE subjects then in March of Year 10 I took mock exams for all of my subjects to see if I was ready to take any of the real exams in the summer. I ended up doing my Geography and History exams at the end of Year 10 but for all of my other subjects, I carried them on to study them for another year.

This meant I went into Year 11 having finished Geography and History so was able to choose a new subject to study to fill the empty hours. All of my other GCSE subject exams are taken at the end of Year 11 (my final year of secondary school).

College/sixth form/apprenticeship:
As you leave secondary school at 16 years old, you have to go to either college, sixth form or do an apprenticeship as it is compulsory to stay in education until you’re 18.

– A seperate establishment to secindary schools, you can study either a-levels there (the next level up from GCSEs, they are mainly in academic subjects and take two years. You can choose up to four a-levels and depending on subjects, you either take half of the exams at the end of each year, or all of the exams at the end of two years) or BTECs (which are assessed through coursework and practical work NOT exams and you can study a range of things from hairdressing to animical to engineering etc).

Sixth form:
– Sixth forms are attatched to secondary schools and are basically the same as colleges but you can usually only study a-levels there.

– You can also do apprenticeships where you have a job placement and are taught the skills to do that job over a course of two/three years and are usually paid for your work.

If you wish to you can continue your education and go to university although this is not compulsory. To go to university you need to have either done a-levels or a BTEC course to have the right qualifications to apply.

Typically you study either one subject or a combonation of two subjects for your degree and most courses last 3 years.

So, there we go. A not-so-short guide to the English education system. I hope you found this useful/interesting. Sorry if I just bored you all to death. I’m weird, ok? I find all this stuff fascinating.

Anyway, bye for now! 🙂

One thought on “//Exams, exams and more exams: the English school system//

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