If you’re moving your family from the United States to the United Kingdom, you’ll notice that the two educational systems are significantly different. While both produce highly educated individuals, you should first familiarize yourself with the UK system.
Depending on the child’s age, there are more or fewer distinctions. Therefore, we’ll attempt to form two primary groupings and make a comparison for both groups. Now, let’s look at the first group.
Education from age 4 to 14
The first distinction to be aware of is that official schooling in the United Kingdom begins at the age of 3 or 4, and that year is known as “Reception.” In the United States, a child of the same age would be attending preschool at the same time. While it is mostly a play-based program, it also introduces formalized schooling and has an academic component.
While kindergarten is for children aged 5-6 in the United States, “Year 1” is for children aged 5-6 in the United Kingdom.
In the United States, formal education begins in “Grade 1” at the age of 6-7. But, in the United Kingdom, their peers are in “Year 2” of primary education (which starts in “Year 1”). Basically, students in the UK start their formal education about a year earlier than their American peers.
Secondary school in the United Kingdom begins at the age of 11-12, or “Year 7,” and continues until the age of 15-16, or “Year 11.”
What’s crucial to know is that the CAT4 test exists. Many pupils, somewhere in the range oof 50-55%, take it at that age as part of a school entrance exam or as part of the transition to secondary school. But, what is it?
The CAT4 test resembles an IQ test more than an exam. The purpose of the test is for children, parents and teachers to learn about each student’s strengths and weaknesses. The findings are used to modify the educational method in order to get the most out of each student.
Education from age 14 to 18
This group has more differences when comparing US students to those in the UK, so breaking them up in a numbered list will make it easier to compare and contrast them.
- Freshman and sophomore years are the last two years of secondary education in the United Kingdom.
- Math and science are taught sequentially in the United States rather than simultaneously as they are in the United Kingdom.
- Students in the United Kingdom take the GCSE exam at the end of secondary school (General Certificate of Secondary Education). The grading system is based on numbers (1-9).
- While students in the United States typically choose what they are passionate about, they do not focus on a certain topic. With the GCSE in the United Kingdom, students choose the subjects they want to focus on.
- In the United Kingdom, junior and senior years are referred to as sixth form or college (“Year 12 and 13”.)
- In the United Kingdom, college is simply another name for the two years preceding university (or college in the United States)!
- In any case, pupils take the A-Level test after completing these two years (Advanced Level).
- A-Levels are only available to those who have completed GCSEs in related courses. You must pass both tests if you wish to attend university.
- Unlike the SATs of ACTs in the United States, which are taken as a student nears the end of their high school career high school, an A-Level is sufficient for a student’s university application.
There is one more point that we would like to make. In the United Kingdom, a private school is a public school, while a public school is a state school. We hope that we have been of use and that the distinctions between the US and UK basic education systems have been easily recognized.