How the school system works

Find out about education in the UK, different types of school, the national curriculum and key learning stages.

How the education system works

All children in England who are between 5 and 16 years old need to have full-time education that meets their needs. You can send your child to school or educate them yourself.

Find out about schools in Brighton & Hove.

What children learn

The national curriculum is a set of guidelines schools use to make sure children around the country learn the same things.

Community primary and secondary schools run by the council follow the national curriculum. Other schools, such as free schools, academies and private schools can follow a different curriculum.

The national curriculum is split up into school years and key stages.

Age School year Curriculum stage School type
4 to 5 Reception Foundation stage Primary school Infant school
5 to 6 Year 1 Key stage 1
6 to 7 Year 2
7 to 8 Year 3 Key stage 2 Junior school
8 to 9 Year 4
9 to 10 Year 5
10 to 11 Year 6
11 to 12 Year 7 Key stage 3 Secondary school with sixth form Secondary school
12 to 13 Year 8
13 to 14 Year 9
14 to 15 Year 10  Key stage 4 and GCSEs
15 to 16 Year 11
16 to 17 Year 12 Sixth form and A Levels, BTEC and other qualifications College
17 to 18  Year 13

More information

You can also find out about types of school and the school system on the GOV.UK website.