UK Education System




Tom Everson

In the United Kingdom, the education is categorised into four main parts :

  • Primary education ( primary 1 to 6 )
  • Secondary education ( secondary 1 - 4 )
  • Further education ( higher levels syllabus: A level, IB, BTEC )
  • Higher Education ( university/college-level education )

One of the advantages of the UK education system is that, unlike any other education system, there are many pathways to choose after secondary education. For example, if you can’t follow up with Academic Studies like A level (or) IB, you can choose a more practical and theoretical approach like BTEC (or) If you don’t want to waste another 1.5/2 years in A level, you can choose to attend the university’s foundation level which only lasts for 1 or 1.5 years. However, in university admission, all acceptance is controlled by the UCAS which is a UK-based organisation whose main role is to operate the application process for British universities. You can read more about specific details here.

Primary Education

After pre-school which is 3 - 5 years, primary education starts. For example, primary education starts from age 5 until the age of 12. Here is an age and grade comparison. Primary 1 (age 6 - 7) Primary 2 (age 7 - 8) Primary 3 (age 8 - 9) Primary 4 (age 9 - 10) Primary 5 (age 10 - 11) Primary 6 (age 11 - 12)

Secondary Education

After primary education, students are ascended to the level of preparation for the basics of the O level. Thus, the first two years are the most important years for the students who are preparing to take the GCSE O level. After the first 2 years of secondary education, students enter the phase of preparation for the O level. These 2 years are also known as intensive years for the students as they are consistently required to study for the O-level exam. Here is an age and grade comparison. Secondary 1 (age 12 - 13) Secondary 2 (age 13 - 14) Secondary 3 (age 14 - 15) Secondary 4 (age 15 - 16)

Further Education

Once a student finishes secondary education they have the option to extend into further education to take their A-Levels, GNVQs, BTEC or other such qualifications. UK students planning to go to college or university must complete further education. There are many alternatives; however, I will only mention what is popular in our country: Myanmar.

A level

A-level is a further education system aimed at the students who are interested in the field of academics. However, for some students, A level can be quite difficult. But there are many alternatives to A level. For more information on A level, you can read Aye Myat Thiri Myo’s In-depth explanation. A-levels, like GCSEs, follow a two-year program and there are two components to them: full A-levels and half AS-levels. Generally, A-levels comprise 6 modules, and an AS-level has 3 modules. Students will generally take between two to three A-levels, but depending on your academic ability and drive you may take more. Students at independent schools may take anywhere up to 5 A-levels.


BTEC is another A-level alternative which offers practical and theoretical approaches to the students. Unlike A level, BTEC offers the students to rely more on their projects and field research instead of doing more academic studies. For more information, you can read .. …..

Foundation Level

The foundation level is also another A-level alternative for the students who are not interested in wasting 1.5 to 2 years at the A level. Unlike A level, university foundation programmes are offered by the university that you want to attend. For example, if you want to get into the University of London, there is a foundation programme offered by them. At the foundation level, they mostly focus on what you are going to teach and learn in the freshman year. For more information, you can read …

Higher Education

Mostly in the UK, after finishing the further education, students are chosen to attend what we know as university/colleges. However, university in the UK is just 3 years. And they just straight up went into the courses. For reference, students in US universities are required to take college algebra, calculus 2 / 3 in their freshman years. However, in the UK education system, they are already included in the A level / Foundation year of the studies. Each university’s requirements are different from each other and you need to research it yourself. For more information, you can read …

Experience something new!

Join our fan community for exclusive
perks and its absolutely free!

© 2023 Conceptians