Education System in the UK – An Overview

Thinking of pursuing higher education in the UK but not sure about the education system there? Read this article to know more about the Education System in the UK.

In the United Kingdom, the education system is made up of four main components – primary education, secondary education, further education, and higher education. People of the United Kingdom have to legally complete their primary and secondary education which runs from when students are 5 years old to when they’re 16 years old. 

These two components are further comprised of four different “key stages.” The details of these “key stages” are as follows:

  • Key Stage 1 – 5 to 7 years old
  • Key Stage 2 – 7 to 11 years old
  • Key Stage 3 – 11 to 14 years old
  • Key Stage 4 – 14 to 16 years old

In a general case, students complete their first two key stages – Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 at a primary school. After this, when a student is 11 years old, he/she will move onto a secondary school to complete the remain two key stages that are Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4. 

Although all students are assessed at the completion of each stage, the most important assessment is conducted at after Key Stage 4 when a student is 16 years old. This is when students pursue their General Certificate of Secondary Education or GCSE. Students who successfully complete their GCSE can choose between going for further education and then higher education or can finish school and start their careers. 

Overall, here’s an overview of the education system in the United Kingdom:

Primary Education

In the UK, Primary Education begins at the age of 5 years and continues until the student is 11 years old. It comprises of two Key Stages under the UK Educational System. If you want to learn more about Primary Education in the UK, head over to the British Council Page.

Secondary Education

Once students have completed the first two Key Stages of UK Educational System, they move to secondary education. This starts when a student’s age is 11 years and continues until they are 16 years old. The secondary education comprises of the remaining two Key Stages, Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4. Students pursuing secondary education move towards GCSE. Both primary and secondary education are mandatory in the UK. However, further and higher education are optional.

Further Education

Once a student has completed their secondary education, they have an option to pursue their further education that takes them to the A-Levels, BTEC’s, GNVQ’s and other similar qualifications. Further education is mandatory for students who plan to go to college or university.

Higher Education

This is the most important section for international students who are planning to come to the United Kingdom for higher education. Most international students would directly come to pursue higher education as they would have completed their primary, secondary and further education in their home country.

Entry Requirements for Higher Education in the UK

Different higher education programs in the United Kingdom have different eligibility criteria. These conditions must be satisfied in order for a student to gain an entry at higher education level.

UK Degree Online

The rise in technology means that several top-notch educational programs can now be pursued by students online. If you want to get a UK-accredited degree without moving to the United Kingdom, then enrolling in an online program is ideal for you. This helps you get a UK-accredited degree without travelling to the UK, which saves a lot of money while ensuring that you get access to the same top-quality educational program.


Now that you’ve gone through the overview of the education system in the UK, you can make an informed decision about pursuing higher education in the United Kingdom. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with us. We’re here to answer all your queries regarding studying in the UK as an international student.

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