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Secondary Education in the UK

The majority of schools and colleges in the United Kingdom are funded by the British government and are called state schools. About 10% of UK pupils are educated in the private/independent sector.

State education for post 16 year olds
Students can choose either a state sixth form college or a college of further education. Both offer GCSE and A level courses for students from the age of 16. Colleges of further education also offer foundation and diploma courses. All colleges can prepare students for entry to a British university.

Private sector and Independent schools
Many schools and colleges in the UK are privately funded institutions. Private colleges are generally more expensive than state equivalent for overseas students, have smaller class sizes and have smaller student numbers – some with just 150 students in one school. Boarding schools are for students from 11-18 years of age and follow the traditional education system. Tutorial colleges start at age 15 and have a more flexible programme range focussing on fast access to British university.

Education in the UK
Secondary school – Ages 11–13 (School years 7–9)
From the age of 11 to 13, students in British state and private schools study a broad range of 10–15 subjects that usually follow the guidelines of the National Curriculum. No public examinations are taken during this time.

Secondary school graduation (GCSE) – Ages 14–15 (School years 10–11)
Traditionally, at the age of 14 students start a programme that lasts for 2 years and during which time they study 5–10 subjects of their choice. Intensive, one year courses are available for students of 15 plus with the appropriate academic level from their own country. Fewer subjects are studied (maximum 6). After this two year period, students take GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) state examinations. These qualify students to continue onto A level or Foundation programmes for university preparation.

University preparation (AS/A level) – Ages 16–17 (School years 12–13)
Once a student reaches the age of 16 (or they have passed the required number of GCSEs) they can start a 2 year programme which leads to A (Advanced) level examinations. At Dover College, pupils specialise in 4 subjects for their AS level and 3 subjects for their A level. These subjects are selected by pupils on advice from their tutors according to their ability.