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Education is important in England, as it is Wales and Scotland too.

British children are required by law to have an education until they are 16 years old.

Education is compulsory, but school is not,children are not required to attend school. They could be educated at home.

1996 Education Act of the UK

Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act states:

"The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable-

(a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and
(b) to any special educational needs he may have,

either by regular attendance at school or otherwise."

Education is free for all children from 5 to 18.

About 94 per cent of pupils in England, and the rest of the UK, receive free education from public funds, while 6 per cent attend independent fee paying schools.


All government-run schools, state schools, follow the same National Curriculum.

The School Year

The school year is 39 weeks long and is divided into six terms:

  • September to October
  • October to December
  • January to February
  • February to March
  • April to May
  • June to July

School holidays

The main school holidays are:

  • Christmas- 2 weeks
  • Spring - 2 weeks
  • Summer - 6 weeks

There are also one week holidays:

  • end of October
  • mid February
  • end of May

When do kids start school?

In general, children start school on the first day of term after they turn 5.

At the age of 11, they move on to regular high schools, known as secondary schools.

When do kids leave school?

British children are required to attend school until they are 16 years old.

At the age of 16, students write an examination called the GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education). All students are tested in mathematics, English literature, English composition, chemistry, biology, physics, history or the Classics, one modern language, and one other subject, such as art or computer studies.

After completing the GCSE, some students leave school, others go onto technical college, whilst others continue at high school for two more years and take a further set of standardized exams, known as A levels, in three or four subjects. These exams determine whether a student is eligible for university.

Education stages:

Children's education in England is normally divided into two separate stages. They begin with primary education at the age of five and this usually lasts until they are eleven. Then they move to secondary school, there they stay until they reach sixteen, seventeen or eighteen years of age.

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© Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

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Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites and are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant. 
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.