An introduction to the British education system | education

An introduction to the British education system

The UK's education system is broken down into four major parts: primary education, secondary education (further education), higher education, and further education.Children in the UK must legally attend primary and secondary school between the ages of 5 and 16.

Primary education in the UK

Primary school education in the UK begins at the age of 5 and continues to the age of 11 under the UK educational system. Key stages 1 and 2 are included in the UK educational system.

Some primary schools can be divided into Junior and Infant levels. These schools are often located on separate sites. The Key Stage, one infant age range, is between 5 and 7. The Key Stage 2 Junior Age Range is for children aged 7 to 11.

Secondary school - Years 7 and 8.

The UK's first two years of secondary school education are Years 7 and 8. They are sometimes included in the Junior Schools, while others are part of the Senior Schools.

All students in the UK study English, Maths, and Sciences. Each school also offers a list of optional subjects (Art and Music, Drama, Latin Science, Design Technology, Computer Science), so students can choose the subjects that are most interesting to them.

Common Entrance Exams are taken in some schools by students in the seventh year. There are three examination sessions: November, January, and May/June. Common Entrance Exam results may affect the transition from Junior School to Senior School (from years 8 to 9)

Secondary school - Year 9

The British school system considers Year 9 a crucial year. Most students move from Junior School to Senior School this year. It serves as a foundation for the GCSE program and is an entry point for all schools.

English, Maths, and Sciences are all taught to students. Students can also choose from the school's optional subject list.

Secondary education - Years 10 and 11

Students prepare for the GCSE exams in their last two years of secondary school, also known as Year 10 or Year 11. They begin at age 14 and are administered after two years of the general certificate of secondary education.

The GCSE program in UK schools allows students to study between 9-12 subjects. Some subjects are mandatory (English, Math, and 2/3 Sciences), while others can be optional (History/Geography, Modern Language, etc. Some are compulsory, while others can be chosen by students based on their preferences and abilities. Students receive their GCSE Certificates at the end of the 2-year GCSE program after passing the examinations in each subject.

It is important that they choose the right subjects and get GCSE results in order to be able to do their Further Studies (A-Level, IB) or for university admission.

Intensive 1 Year GCSE

For international students who are interested in a UK school education, some schools offer a Year GCSE program in Year 11. These one-year intensive courses are for students over 15 with the appropriate academic level. There are six subjects that can be studied.


International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) prepares international students for A Level and/or IB.

Students can choose to study 5-7 subjects, with Maths, Science, and English included. Every school has an IGCSE list. Students take IGCSE exams at the end of Year 11 and are awarded IGCSE Certificates.

Preparation for university - Years 12 and 13

The UK school system allows students to begin a two-year program that leads to the A (Advanced level) examinations. Students may choose to specialize in three or four subjects that are relevant to the university degree they want to pursue. All UK universities recognize A levels as state exams. After passing each subject's examinations, students are awarded A-level Certificates at the end of Year 13.

International Baccalaureate

Individual schools offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, which allows students to continue studying more than three or four subjects.

Students study six subjects during the IB: 3 at a higher level (HL) and three at a standard level (SL). Each school offers different subjects at different levels (HL/SL). The IB program also has a Core program that includes Theory of Knowledge (TOK), Extended Essays (EE), and Creativity Activity, Service (CAS).

Each subject is examined by students in written exams at the end.

Further education - Vocational courses

Students from abroad can choose to study at a state sixth-form college or college of further education. Both colleges offer A-level and GCSE courses to students starting at 16. Further education colleges also offer diploma and foundation courses. All colleges are able to prepare students for admission to any university worldwide or in the UK. Bright World has a number of UK state colleges that offer a variety of academic and vocational courses. These courses allow students to choose their career path or gain admission to a university.

British schools also offer BTEC courses. These courses are for students who want to learn practical skills and knowledge in a particular subject (Business Psychology, Engineering Sport, Art & Design) and find traditional exams difficult. The BTEC course focuses on skills-based learning and is assessed throughout the course. Students are evaluated after each unit through tasks, tests, and assignments. This is not the case with GCSE or A Level students.

University - Foundation Courses

International students can choose to study one-year foundation programs starting at age 17. These courses can lead to private exams that are an alternative for A levels. Universities with which they have a partnership recognize foundation courses at colleges.

A few universities offer foundation courses that can lead to their own degree programs.

Bright World is partnered with many colleges and Pathway providers. They can place students in Foundation and Diploma courses across London and the UK.

University - Undergraduate Study

A British bachelor's degree takes approximately three years. Most are awarded at the honors level. You can choose BEng (Bachelor of Engineering), BA (Bachelor of Arts), or BSc (Bachelor of Science) as your first degree.

Some state colleges offer 2-year vocational diplomas which grant exemption from the first or second year of a degree program. Private tutorial colleges may offer a one-year diploma program that is equivalent to a university's first year. Some universities offer second-year entry to students who have completed a 1-year diploma.

University - Postgraduate Study

The UK education system offers very intense postgraduate programs. The courses in the UK are often shorter than those in other countries. An average master's degree takes 12 months, such as an MA - Master in Arts or an MEng (Master of Engineering). The MBA (Master of Business Administration), a highly regarded Master's program, can take up to 2 years. Candidates will typically be highly-skilled with at least two years of managerial experience. The UK has a range of Ph.D. research degrees. They can take anywhere from 2 to 7 years.

boarding schools

Bright World only works with colleges and schools that are privately funded. A boarding school is where students live and study during the school year. There are about 500 boarding schools in England, Wales, and Scotland, as well as Northern Ireland.

UK boarding schools provide a high-quality education that helps students develop their skills and prepare them for university. All UK boarding schools must meet high standards in terms of teaching quality, facilities, and student care.

Many UK boarding schools blend beautiful, centuries-old buildings with modern classrooms and traditional architecture. Excellent facilities make learning and living a pleasurable experience. Students will also improve their English skills as they study.

Tutorial colleges

Tutorial colleges are available for students starting at 15 years old. They offer a wider range of programs and focus on quick access to UK universities.

Many independent sixth-form colleges in London, Oxford, and Cambridge work with a tutorial system and are commonly referred to simply as 'tutorial colleges.' It is highly respected and well-tested and originated at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. It is still in use today and forms the foundation of an "Oxbridge" education. Tutorials are small classes of students in which the tutor is either a lecturer or another academic faculty member who gives individual attention to each student.

state boarding schools

State boarding schools are those where tuition is paid, and boarding is provided at no cost. The education is paid for by the government in the same way as at any other English state school.

Children who are citizens of the UK are not eligible for admission to UK state boarding schools. The BN(O), or British National, passport does not automatically make the child eligible to attend a UK state boarding school.

F E Colleges

An FE college provides education to students who are 16 years old or older than the compulsory school age (16). There are several types of FE colleges: specialist colleges, sixth form colleges, and adult education institutes. FE Colleges, which are state-run, offer free education to EU members. International students from non-EU countries can also benefit from a competitive fee structure.

University pathway courses

Pathway providers can help you improve your English language and study skills in order to enter UK universities. Many of these courses lead to direct entry to a degree. Many private companies offer Diploma and Foundation programs on the campuses of UK universities. These courses often offer an accelerated path to undergraduate degrees.


Students from abroad find the UK to be one of the most desirable destinations.Each year, more than 400,000 students from other countries enrol. There are over 140 universities and higher-education institutions that offer a wide range of tertiary degrees that can be recognized around the globe. Students can choose to enroll in a 3-year undergraduate program or a 1-year postgraduate course.

Placement at UK universities

Bright World has partnered with Education Advisers Ltd to offer expert advice on US and UK university admissions. Their experienced consultants provide a wide range of Higher Education services for international students. These services include complimentary advice on the top University Foundation courses and bespoke Oxbridge or Medical School coaching and mentorship.