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Schools in the UK

Independent or Private Schools

Independent schools are fee paying, privately run schools. Some are part of a national group of schools, while others are completely independent. They are able to provide excellent education through small class sizes and extensive facilities. Students often reach high levels of academic achievement, gaining places at some of the most prestigious universities. Entrance to these schools is normally based on academic ability, tested through an entrance examination, and the entry criteria and fees vary from school to school. Many of these schools will offer boarding facilities, with host family accommodation being used for half terms and exeat weekends. Alternatively, accommodation can be provided through a host family living nearby.

State Schools

These are predominately government funded schools, meaning that there are no costs for any student holding a European passport and residing in the UK. This entitles students to access full time education up until they are 19 years of age.
These schools provide and wide and varied curriculum, as well as covering the core subjects such as English, Maths and Sciences in class sizes of approximately 30 students. Each school provides a good range of facilities including sports and music.
Entrance to these schools is via application and dependent upon the relative Admissions Authority. Admission to each year group is based on age, and places are granted on spaces being available at the chosen school. Many students continue to study at UK Universities or Colleges.

Ages 11-14


From the age of 11 to 14, students in British state and private schools study a broad range of 10 to 15 subjects that usually follow the guidelines of the National Curriculum. No public examinations are taken during this time.

Ages 14-15

(School years 10-11)
 Traditionally, at the age of 14 students start a programme that lasts for 2 years during which time they study 5 to10 subjects of their choice. After this two year period, students take GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) state examinations. These qualify students to continue onto A-level or BTEC level 3 (or equivalent) for university preparation.

Ages 16-17

(School years 12-13) 
Once a student reaches the age of 16 they can start a 2 year programme which leads to A (Advanced) level examinations. Students specialise in 3 or 4 subjects of their choice that are usually relevant to the degree subject they wish to follow at university. At the end of year 1 students take AS level examinations. During year 2 they continue with three or four of these subjects and convert them into full A level qualifications at the end of the year, following their final exams. A levels are state examinations and are recognised by all UK universities and many institutions worldwide. Alternatively, students can follow a more vocational route of qualifications, such as BTEC or NVQ in a wide range of subjects.


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