Pre-school and primary school, secondary education in England and the United Kingdom. Catalogue of private boarding and day schools, ratings, prices.

Education information

Primary education in the school of Great Britain lasts for 5 years, however there is a stage of pre-school life, which begins for children at the age of 3 years old. During one or two years, children prepare for school, and then in the primary school for 5 years they learn the first part of the compulsory educational program which lay foundation for future studies.

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Specifics of education in the primary school in the United Kingdom: studies after 2, 3, 4 class

Education for children in England on the initial stages involves the study of several subjects. Children will have to learn the basics of mathematics, history, geography, music, art; the English language is among the main subjects, too. This first stage of education is aimed not only at the academic development of children - pupils are actively engaged in sports, they develop creative skills and abilities, discover talents. Any primary school today can offer the students a wide range of additional classes, or electives, as well as sections and coteries.

High school in England

Secondary education is available to international kids at the age of 11 – 16 years old. State educational institutions prepare children for passing compulsory examinations. Private boarding schools and private day schools, in addition to compulsory academic training, offer sports activities, art electives and much more.

Many high schools in England are specialized: in some, much attention is paid to sports (football, horse riding, rugby, etc.), in others a focus is made on music, fine arts or theatre. As for the academic preparation, it includes a wide range of classical subjects and disciplines, some of which are necessary for schoolchildren for the subsequent pass of the GCSE examination.

Structure of education system in the United Kingdom

In general, the British educational system can be divided into the following levels:

1) Pre-school education: nursery and kindergartens (for children at the age of 2 – 7 years old);

2) Primary education:

  • Primary schools (for children at the age of 5 – 11 years old): at the end SAT general level exam is to be taken;
  • Junior schools (for children at the age of 7 – 13 years old): at the end Common Entrance Examination is to be taken;

3) Secondary school - middle and senior school (for children at the age of 11 – 18 / 19 in senior school):

  • Senior Schools (for children at the age of 13 – 18 years old): middle school that continues with the GCSE program, after which children go to the Sixth Form at the age of 12 – 13 years old;
  • Sixth Form (children at the age of 16 – 18 years old): during this year children prepare for entering the university. In the United Kingdom, they usually study at the A-level program, however the International Baccalaureate (IB) program is also widely taught.

There are also the so-called Grammar schools: these are middle and senior grades (for the children at the age of 11-18 years old), where children are engaged in a sophisticated, in-depth program, designed for preparation for admission to prestigious universities and higher schools.

Instead of the GCSE certificate, some students prefer to receive the GNVQ (General National Vocational Qualification) certificate.

The structure of higher education in the United Kingdom corresponds to the structure adopted under the Bologna Convention:

  • Baccalaureate (bachelor’s degree lasts for 3-4 years, designed for students at the age of 17+ years old) - "basic higher education" that gives the opportunity to start working immediately after graduation. In each specialization there are priority disciplines (which are called majors) and additional subjects (minors), which serve as a supplement to the basic qualification and increase the value of the graduate;
  • Master’s degree or MBA (lasts for 1-2 years, designed for students at the age of 21+ years old) – the second stage of British higher education, designed for ambitious students, claiming high-paying, managerial positions. Often students entering the master’s degree "refine" their specialization: they choose a more narrow specialization, focus on a more specific branch of their profession.
  • Higher doctorate studies (last for 2-4 years, for professionals and students at the age of 23+ years old), or PhD degree as it is often called. The program often implies large amounts of scientific work - only those students, who want to engage in real research of a problem, become recognized scientists in future. Needless to say, that the degree of PhD is valued incredibly high! Often higher doctorate studies are considered an analogue of foreign postgraduate study, but this is not entirely true: PhD is much higher.

Students in the United Kingdom also can get a diploma or certificate in shorter timeframes with help of special programs which are designed for 1-2 years of studies. This is also a type of higher education: university courses, which are not designed to obtain a degree.

The degree program or certificate is an excellent opportunity for students who do not plan to build a career in complex scientific fields (such as medicine or law) to start working. You can also choose these courses if you are unsure of your future desired profession: university courses and diploma programs will give you the knowledge base, the foundation, so that later it would be much easier to determine the directions of Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree.

As a matter of fact, in the United Kingdom there is a huge number of professional programs, refresher courses, etc. You can either go to the summer or seasonal program that corresponds to your work profile, get a bachelor's degree in your home country and then enter a university in the United Kingdom to get your master’s degree, or take longer courses (which last for 3-6 months and up to a year) according to your specialization. Another category of courses is offered to the future (or already practicing) teachers: in the United Kingdom they can confirm or upgrade their qualifications, get certification for teaching English as a foreign language, work in Great Britain as a teacher of their native language, and so on. The possibilities are almost limitless!

types of schools in UK

In the United Kingdom, all schools are conditionally divided into two large blocks - public and private.

  • Public schools are educational institutions designed solely for British nationals and are free for them: these educational institutions are the ones that realize the right of every young UK citizen for compulsory secondary education. Also, public schools can enroll foreign children whose parents work on the territory of the United Kingdom under a long-term contract, are in the military or diplomatic service.

Several public schools can always be found in any city or county: enrollment is carried out mainly on a territorial basis – that is, children of families living in the nearest district-diameter are accepted. Also, some members of the family of actual students have some advantage when enrolling: for example, a girl can easily enter a public school where her brother or sister are studying.

  • Private schools are elite, often closed and very prestigious boarding houses, but some may offer a full-time form of study or a week-long (full) boarding house (when children leave school and go home or to host family on weekends, the weekdays being spent entirely on campus). Typically, the United Kingdom's private boarding schools occupy spacious, superbly equipped campuses: due to the relatively high cost of education and sponsorship, such institutions can afford innovative equipment, the latest technology and any opportunities for study and leisure – they can provide their students with everything they need. However, private schools are far from affordable for everyone: despite the large number of scholarships and educational grants, education here can be a significant burden for the family budget. As a rule, there are no restrictions on the admission of foreign students: Great Britain is well aware of the price of its education, therefore welcomes students from all over the world. Another important aspect worth paying close attention to is whether the chosen school offers a separate type of education: many private boarding schools down to our days follow the historical tradition and accept only boys or only girls for study. However, there are enough schools of joint education – there are a lot of options to choose from.

Let us briefly mention the types of education in private schools:

  • Day form or on a daily basis - without residence on campus: after the end of classes, sections and additional activities children go home (in case the family of the child lives abroad, he is selected by the host family near the school territory);
  • A week-long boarding school (children on weekdays study and live on campus, and go home on weekends);
  • Partial boarding (similar to the full board, but the time when students live on campus and when they go home is regulated by each school individually);
  • Full board (during the entire academic year students are on the school campus on a constant basis: they live, study, and go in for sports and work, leaving only for authorized excursions and walks). Many schools offer students accommodation on campus even during public holidays, weekends and vacations – as a rule, for an additional fee.

Regardless of the fact that private schools do not have a ban on the education of foreign students, it can be very, very difficult to obtain a place in a desired educational institution. The most rated and prestigious primary private boarding schools in the United Kingdom are very tough to enter: it is recommended to get up in the queue almost from the moment of the birth of the child or when he is still in his infancy. Of course, in view of this, we recommend that foreign parents start the process of preparation for enrollment and collecting documents as early as possible.

It is worth mentioning such an unusual type of educational institution, as church (religious) schools. As a rule, such schools enlist children of the members of a local church or a religious community, which is confirmed by a letter of assurance from the priest. The quality of teaching in these schools is traditionally very high; so many parents even prefer to change their religious beliefs in order to provide their child with an excellent primary education.

British elementary school fees

The cost of studying in an elementary school in the UK primarily depends on the type of institution chosen. Public schools set relatively democratic prices – 3 000 – 4 000 GBP for the academic year and even less: much depends on the location of the institution and its national and world rankings.

Private boarding schools and private day schools are much more expensive. The most prestigious options (for example, Queen Ethelburga's College and Clayesmore school) will cost you 8 000 – 12 000 GBP for an academic trimester, and there are three such trimesters in the academic year). There are more affordable schools: King's School Rochester sets the price at around 7 000 GBP per trimester, Barnard Castle School - from 6 500 GBP per trimester. In addition, these amounts already include a large number of services: accommodation and meals in comfortable residences, not only an educational program, but also a leisure program, all kinds of entertainment and coteries for children, use of the entire school infrastructure, the Internet, library resources, etc. Note that the additional costs that are not included in the prices above are traditionally the following:

  • Registration fee;
  • Deposit confirming your booking of the course;
  • Examination Boards;
  • Deposit for education (usually a cost of 1 trimester);
  • Additional academic and language classes (optional);
  • Additional leisure activities and excursions (optional);
  • Care-taker’s services (registration with the agency + care-taker services);
  • Air tickets in both directions;
  • Transfer in both directions;
  • Compulsory medical insurance;
  • Personal pocket expenses;
  • Visa fees and services, translation and certification of documents;
  • Consular fee (paid at the Embassy).
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