Schools in the UK

Nothing struck more fear into the hearts of my two daughters than their first day of school in the UK. The polyester burgundy blazer and the giant egg emblazoned on the tie didn’t help matters either.

Schools in the UK are either provided by the local government authority and can be:

  • State Schools – free for all pupils
  • Independent Schools -charge school admission fees

All children must attend full-time education until the age of 16. Once they reach the age of 16 they can then go on to Sixth Form and no longer are required to wear a uniform.

School Uniforms

Up until the age of 16 children will be required to wear a school uniform and the school will give you a list of what you’ll need to purchase.

For the most part it’ll be either skirt or trousers, shirt, tie, blazer or jumper (sweater). They will advise what type of shoes you will need (usually black/no sneakers or runners).  Some schools are strict on how kids can wear their hair, makeup and/or jewelry.

There are uniform shops all over the place and they will have a list of the different schools uniform requirements if you happen to misplace your copy.

Primary School and Secondary School

Primary School starts in Year 1 (5 years old). Most pupils begin their secondary education at the age of 11 (Year 7). When they turn 16 (Year 11), all pupils take a series of exams called the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), usually in about eight to ten subjects, which must include English and Mathematics.

In Scotland, pupils move to secondary education at the age of 12. At the age of 16 they take exams called Standard Grades and then move on to Highers and Advanced Highers.

To apply for a school place you will have to contact your local council.  The way you apply will depend on whether you are applying for primary school place or a secondary school place.

Independent schools have their own admissions procedures so you will need to apply to them directly.

Helpful Links

Overview of UK Schools
Education in Scotland
University in the UK