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Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Private Schools or State Schools; What's the difference?

King's School Canterbury

Those of you new to education in the UK, will be wanting to know how the general education system works. I will be explaining this in two separate bits. Sate education system and the Private education system. The two have very different systems but they do interlink with each other. For example everyone does GCSEs and A-levels/IB.

Please bear in mind that I am more of an expert in the Private education system so some of the State education knowledge may not be as accurate!!

The State education system

Education here is free; it is provided by the government and the majority of UK students have their education here. It is divided up into three parts. Primary education, secondary education and higher education. It is a legal requirement for children to stay at school from 5 years to 16 or the GCSE age.

Primary Education - this is from the ages 5 to 11. This includes key stages 1 and 2. At 11, children do the 11plus which is an examination determining which secondary school they will go. This examination is used less now but each region has their own set of examinations.

Secondary education - this is from the ages of 11 to 16. This covers Key Stages 3 and 4. Students work towards the GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education). Within the secondary education system there are grammar schools. These schools are highly competitive in selecting their students. This includes the 11plus, the distance living from school, siblings already at the school or faith.

Higher education - This is from the ages of 16 to 18. This education is not compulsory however it is essential if you wish to go to University. This is also sometimes called a Sixth Form college. Here you will be able to do your A-levels. Some secondary schools have their own sixth form as well. You will need at least 6 Cs at GCSE in order to enter the Sixth Form.

In order to use the state education, the parent must be in the UK and the child registered as a dependent. Therefore you must be working, studying ect. This does not apply to EU and EEC nationals.

The Private Education System

This is the fee-paying education system. It is also called Independent Schools.

Prep(atory) School - This would be the equivalent of primary schools up to the age of 13. Nurseries are also joined to the prep schools. These schools are called Prep(atory) schools because it 'prepares' you for the secondary schools. There are no formal exams until the child is 13. At 13, all children do the Common Entrance Examinations (CEE). This is taken at nationally and it is formal exam. This exam is to get into UK independent schools. Competition can be very fierce and it is an important exam for the student.

Independent (Private) school - After the child successfully passes the CEE they go on to secondary education. These schools include some of the world's famous British Schools. Entrance to these schools can be very competitive and I will be doing a separate post on the subject. There will always will be a Sixth Form in the school. So, students are expected to continue school after 16. These schools produce some of the best GCSE results and A-level result. Many send a lot of student to prestigious universities.

This is just a glimpse of the UK education system and it is very brief summary. Hopefully you understand a bit more about how education works and I will be explaining more in detail on the private education system.

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