UK Curriculum

The structure of the UK education system

State primary and secondary schools in England all operate under the UK National Curriculum which sets out to provide students with a comprehensive education program. The National Curriculum determines the content of teaching whilst setting attainment targets for learning.

All state schools in England are monitored by a government body called Ofsted which conducts regular inspections with all schools before grading them according to their standard. Results from Ofsted reports are then publicised nationally with league tables showing the performance of schools according to their region.

The National Curriculum is a set government framework that must be followed by all state schools to ensure that teaching and learning is both consistent and balanced. Schools will adopt different teaching methods according to student ability.

There are also a number of other types of education establishments in England including Academy Schools, Independent Schools, Grammar Schools, Faith Schools, Technology School and Specialist Schools.

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Understanding the age groups

Age UK Level of Education Canada Level of Education UK Year Group Canadian Grade
3-4 Early Years Early Childhood Nursery Junior Kindergarten
4-5 Foundation Stage Early Childhood Reception Junior Kindergarten
5-6 Key Stage 1 Early Childhood Year 1 Primary Kindergarten
6-7 Key Stage 1 Elementary Year 2 Grade 1
7-8 Key Stage 2 Elementary Year 3 Grade 2
8-9 Key Stage 2 Elementary Year 4 Grade 3
9-10 Key Stage 2 Elementary Year 5 Grade 4
10-11 Key Stage 2 Elementary Year 6 Grade 5
11-12 Key Stage 3 Elementary Year 7 Grade 6
12-13 Key Stage 3 Middle School Year 8 Grade 7
13-14 Key Stage 3 Middle School Year 9 Grade 8
14-15 Key Stage 4 Middle School Year 10 Grade 9
15-16 Key Stage 4 High School Year 11 Grade 10
16-17 Key Stage 5 High School Year 12 Grade 11
17-18 Key Stage 5 High School Year 13 Grade 12

The School Year in England

The academic year starts in September and ends in July and is split into three terms:

Term 1 – September-December (followed by two weeks Christmas holidays)

Term 2 – January-April (followed by 2 weeks Easter holidays)

Term 3 – April-July (followed by 6 weeks summer holidays)

There is also a one week break in the middle of each term which means teachers never work more than 8 weeks without getting at least a week’s break.