A Brief Guide to the UK Education System
State School Types
The UK has a wide range of school types, all these are operated by the State. A student applying to the Classic programme will be placed in any of these types below whereas a Select student can choose the school type.
Secondary Schools - Compulsory for UK ages 12 - 16. Ending in GCSE examinations. School Years 7 - 11. Some schools allow students to stay on post-Year 11 to study A-Levels in their Sixth Form (+2 years, Years 12 and 13).
Sixth Form Colleges - After GCSEs students can to a specialised school for ages 16 - 18 to study A-Levels of BTEC Vocational courses. School Years 12 and 13.
Academies - State schools operated independently outside of Local Education Authority which allows the school more control over their curriculum. Same structure as Secondary and Sixth Form Colleges usually with a specialisation in certain subject areas eg. Maths and Science, Performing Arts.
Colleges of Further Education - Separate establishment exclusive for education post-16 (A-Level, BTEC Vocational, Apprenticeships etc.) Usually more relaxed than Schools, Academies and Sixth Form Colleges. Students can choose from a wide-range of subjects and are given more responsibility and independence in their school life.
Academic Courses - Definitions
As part of their application process, students can state their preferences of a wide-range of academic subjects to study at their educational establishment.
The Educatius UK placement team looks very carefully at each student's application, subject preference, grades and future career aims to ensure that we are enrolling students on the courses best suited to them. Based on their grades and assessment by the academic institution students may be following GCSE courses, A-Level courses, BTEC Vocational courses or a mixture of all.
Students will usually have end of year examinations at the end of their Academic Year Programme but the school will ultimately make the decision.
In certain schools if the exisiting Maths and English level of the student is not of the equivalent GCSE level then they may be required to sit GCSE Maths and English courses alongside their other subjects.
GCSEs, A-Levels and BTECs - what do they mean?
GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education): A qualification in a specific subject typically taken by school students aged 14 - 16, at a level below A-Level. The equivalent in Scotland is Standard Grade. Students usually take around 9 - 10 GCSEs with all students required to sit mandatory subjects English, Mathematics and Sciences alongside other choices from the categories of Arts, Design and Technology, Humanities and Modern Foreign Languages. The final examinations are taken and grades received at the end of school Year 11. To gain access to A-Level programmes the required pass grade is 5 GCSEs from A* to C.
A-Levels (Advanced Levels): A Levels are demanding and students study 3 or 4 subjects over 2 years. Students most commonly take A-Levels after their GCSEs at aged 17 -18. The equivalent qualification in Scotland are Highers. Some subjects will have their own entry criteria (e.g. you cannot study chemistry if you do not have a GCSE chemistry). The most common aim for taking A-Levels is to access a university course. There are no mandatory A-Level subjects and students are free to choose 3 or 4 subjects that suit their ability, interests and requirements for post-18 education or work.
AS-Levels (Advanced Subsidiary Levels): These are A-Level examinations taken at the end of the first year, but they are being phased out. They do still exist in some establishments and can be particularly useful for 1 year High School students to take at the end of their programme thus allowing them to return home with a British qualification.
BTEC Vocational Courses: These are alternative qualifications at different levels corresponding to GCSEs and A-Levels in vocational subjects such as Travel and Tourism, Sports, Music, Applied Science, Childcare. They are assessed on coursework rather than examinations. Students will be placed onto a Level 2 or Level 3 programme depending on their examination results and programme length. BTECs are suitable for those who have strong inclinations towards a particular vocational career.