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- 1 Organization
- 2 By country
- 3 See also
Formal learning is typically divided into a number of Educational stages covering early childhood education, primary education, secondary education and tertiary (or higher) education. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognizes seven levels of education in its International Standard Classification of Education system (ISCED, from Level 0 (pre-primary education) through Level 6 (second stage of tertiary education). UNESCO's International Bureau of Education maintains a database of country-specific education systems and their stages.
- Early childhood education at preschool, also nursery school and kindergarten (outside of the United States)
- Primary education at primary school, also elementary school, and sometimes partly at middle school
- Secondary education at secondary school, or high school, and sometimes also partly at middle school
- Higher education at university, college or through vocational training
The following table introduces the main concepts, although terms and ages may vary by some amount in different places:
|Age||Education||2 stage||3 stage||ISCED|
|4||Early childhood education||Preschool||Preschool||0|
|5||Primary education||Primary school||First school||1|
|12||Secondary education||Secondary school|
In Australia, children undergo twelve years of formal education (plus Preschool, Kindergarten and/or a "preparatory grade" or "Prep"), usually starting at age four, five or six, and finishing at age 16, 17 or 18. The Years are numbered from 1 to 12.
In Brazil there are three levels of Basic Education: "Educação Infantil" (Preschool in the US), "Ensino Fundamental" (Elementary School in the US) and "Ensino Médio" (High School in the US), which generally are completed by age eighteen. Basic Education is designed to provide the necessary minimum knowledge for the exercise of citizenship.It also serves to develop consciousness for choosing future professions. In Brazil, after the name of the grade one may use the names "série" or "ano". The educational stages in Brazil are divided as follows:
|Educação Infantil (Brazil Grade)||Ages||Correspondent in the U.S|
|Ensino Fundamental (Brazil Grade)||Ages||Correspondent in the U.S|
|1o ano (Primeiro Ano)||6–7||first grade|
|2o ano (Segundo Ano)||7–8||second grade|
|3o ano (Terceiro Ano)||8–9||third grade|
|4o ano (Quarto Ano)||9–10||fourth grade|
|5o ano (Quinto Ano)||10–11||fifth grade|
|6o ano (Sexto Ano)||11–12||sixth grade|
|7o ano (Sétimo Ano)||12–13||seventh grade|
|8o ano (Oitavo Ano)||13–14||eighth grade|
|9o ano (Nono Ano)||14–15||ninth grade|
|Ensino Médio (Brazil Grade)||Ages||Correspondent in the U.S|
|1o ano (Primeiro Ano)||15–16||tenth grade|
|2o ano (Segundo Ano)||16–17||eleventh grade|
|3o ano (Terceiro Ano)||17–18||twelfth grade|
In the People's Republic of China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau), the years are organized in three stages and renumbered within each stage: 6 years in elementary school (小学) years 1 to 6, then 3 years in lower secondary (初级中学, abbreviated 初中) years 1 to 3, then 3 years in higher secondary (高级中学, abbreviated 高中) years 1 to 3. The first nine years (elementary 1–6 and junior secondary 1–3) are compulsory, and the years in higher secondary school are voluntary. Completing higher secondary education or attaining an equivalent level is required before one may receive higher education (高等教育) at universities.
|Year 1||12–13||Lower secondary|
|Year 1||15–16||Higher secondary|
The Hong Kong system was based on the United Kingdom system, with an optional year at kindergarten, six years of primary school (小學) and six years of secondary school (中學), followed by four years at university. Primary 1 – 6 (小一 – 小六) corresponds to Years 1 – 6 in the UK, and Forms 1 – 6 (中一 – 中六) correspond to Years 7 – 12. Usually students begin Primary 1 at age 5 or 6 and complete Form 6 at age 17 or 18.
In Hong Kong, international schools follow the system of the country they are based upon, for example the English Schools Foundation uses the UK year system, and French International Schools use the French collège, école, lycée system. Also, the English term Form followed by the English number is common usage even in otherwise Cantonese conversations.
Education is compulsory from age 6 to age 14 or 16. At the end of the lycée cursus, is the French Baccalaureat exam. It is possible in France to fail a year, and need to resit (redoubler).
|2–3||École maternelle||TPS: Toute petite section||Cycle I : Apprentissages premiers|
|3–4||PS: Petite section|
|4–5||MS: Moyenne section|
|5–6||GS: Grande section||Cycle II : Apprentissages fondamentaux|
|6–7||École élémentaire||CP: Cours préparatoire|
|7–8||CE1: Cours élémentaire, 1ère année|
|8–9||CE2: Cours élémentaire, 2éme année||Cycle III : Approfondissements|
|9–10||CM1: Cours moyen, 1ère année|
|10–11||CM2: Cours moyen, 2ème année|
The Iran system has experienced several changes in the last seven to eight decades. Prior to 1940–1950, the education system had consisted of three levels, called in order: an optional year in kindergarten, six years of primary school, finally followed by six years of secondary school ended up with a diploma. After some improvements during Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the system was changed to four consecutive periods: two optional years in kindergarten and pre-primary school, Primary School consisting of 5 years, 3 years in Middle School, and finally four years in High School. The system was ended up by honoring a diploma in certain majors, e.g. Math and Physics.
Around 1996–1997, one year was reduced from the entire education system and one was honored with a diploma after three years in high-school. However, if one would have liked to continue her/his education towards university degrees, one would have been required to take the last year, so called pre-university year. This year had been a requirement to participate in the Iranian University Entrance Exam for high school students. Again, around 2012, the system turned back to its previous system, consisting of two 6-year periods.
- Junior Infants (4–5 years)
- Senior Infants (5–6 years)
- First Class (6–7 years)
- Second Class (7–8 years)
- Third Class (8–9 years)
- Fourth Class (9–10 years)
- Fifth Class (10–11 years)
- Sixth Class (11–12 years)
After Sixth Class, students move to secondary school, entering;
- First Year (12–13 years)
- Second Year (13–14 years)
- Third Year (14–15 years) – Junior Certificate
- Fourth Year [or Transition Year] (15–16 years)
- Fifth Year (15–17 years)
- Sixth Year [or Final Year] (16–18 years) – Leaving Certificate
In some schools, Transition Year is compulsory, in others it is optional, and in others is not available.
In Italy, education is compulsory from the age of 6 to the age of 16.
note: On parents demand, children can start the "Scuola Elementare" one year earlier.
- Asilo nido: 3 months – 3 years
- Scuola d'infanzia: 3 years – 5 years
Scuola primaria (informally:Scuola Elementare):
- I elementare: 6–7
- II elementare: 7–8
- III elementare: 8–9
- IV elementare: 9–10
- V elementare: 10–11
Scuola secondaria di primo grado (informally:Scuola Media):
- I media – 11–12
- II media – 12–13
- III media – 13–14
Scuola secondaria di secondo grado (informally: Scuola Superiore):
- I superiore – 14–15
- II superiore – 15–16
- III superiore – 16–17
- IV superiore – 17–18
- V superiore – 18–19
In Japan, the years are organized in three stages and renumbered within each stage: 6 years in elementary school (小学校) years 1 to 6, then 3 years in lower secondary (中学校) years 1 to 3, then 3 years in higher secondary (高等学校, abbreviated 高校) years 1 to 3. The first nine years (elementary 1–6 and lower secondary 1–3) are compulsory, and the years in higher secondary school are voluntary. Completing higher secondary education or attaining an equivalent level is required before one may receive higher education at universities (大学).
|Year 1||12–13||Lower secondary|
|Year 1||15–16||Higher secondary|
Malaysian primary school consists of six years of education, referred to as Year 1 to Year 6 (formerly Standard 1 to Standard 6). Year 1 – 3 are classified as Level One (Tahap Satu in Malay) while Year 4 – 6 make up Level Two (Tahap Dua). Primary schooling usually begins at the age of 7 and ends at 12. Students take their first national examination, the UPSR, towards the end of the Year 6 school year. Performance in the UPSR has no effect on their resuming schooling; all students continue with their secondary education after leaving primary school.
Secondary schooling usually begins at age 13. Secondary schools offer education for a total of five years, starting with Form 1 and finishing at Form 5. Forms 1 – 3 are grouped together into the "Lower Form" and Forms 4 & 5 are considered the "Upper Form". Students in Form 3 will have to sit for their second national exam, the PMR. They are then streamed into sciences or humanities classes for the Upper Form according to their performance in this exam. At age 17 students in Form 5 sit for the final level of national examinations, the SPM (Malaysian Certificate of Education). Achieving a passing grade in the Bahasa Melayu (Malay Language) portion of the exams is compulsory; failure results in an automatic failing grade for all subjects taken in the examination and the student is held back to repeat Form 5. Completion of the examination signifies that the student has completed formal education in Malaysia; an SPM certificate remains the base requirement to secure most jobs in Malaysia.
After the SPM, students have a choice of either continuing with Form 6 (which comprises 2 years, Lower and Upper Six) or entering matriculation (pre-university programs). If they opt for Form 6, they will be required to take the STPM examination. Although generally taken by those desiring to attend public universities in Malaysia, an STPM certification is internationally recognized and may also be used, though rarely required, to enter private local universities for undergraduate courses.
|Tahun 1 (Year 1)||6–7||Tahap Satu (Level One or Lower Primary)|
|Tahun 2 (Year 2)||7–8|
|Tahun 3 (Year 3)||8–9|
|Tahun 4 (Year 4)||9–10||Tahap Dua (Level Two or Higher Primary)|
|Tahun 5 (Year 5)||10–11|
|Tahun 6 (Year 6)||11–12|
|Tingkatan 1 (Form 1)||12–13||Menengah Rendah (Lower Secondary)|
|Tingkatan 2 (Form 2)||13–14|
|Tingkatan 3 (Form 3)||14–15|
|Tingkatan 4 (Form 4)||15–16||Menengah Atas (Upper Secondary)|
|Tingkatan 5 (Form 5)||16–17|
|Tingkatan 6 (Form 6) (optional)||17–19||Pre-university programme|
In New Zealand children are required by law to attend 10 years of educational instruction, from the age of 6 to 16. The law also provides in the same legislation that all people are allowed to attend free education to the age of 18, this legislation is the Education Act 1989. Children enroll at primary school when they turn five years old. From years 1–6 students attend primary school. In years 7 and 8 students attend intermediate, or a joint school (years 1–8 or years 7–13). The final years of free education are spent in secondary school (years 9–13). New Zealand also has two older educational stage-numbering systems; standards 5 & 6 were largely unused with the introduction of intermediate schools in the 1950s, while "primmer" numbering was in use well into the 1970s, and some academically focused secondary schools still use "form" numbering.
Primary school: (sometimes includes up to year 8)
|Year Level||Ages||Old systems|
|1||5–6||Junior 1||Primmers 1, 2 & 3|
|2||6–7||Junior 2||Primmers 3 & 4|
|Year Level||Ages||Old systems|
|7||11–12||Form 1||Standard 5|
|8||12–13||Form 2||Standard 6|
|Year Level||Ages||Old system|
In Norway children start school at the age of six; before that kindergarten is voluntary. This school is called "barneskole" (childrenschool):
- 6–7: First grade
- 7–8: Second grade
- 8–9: Third grade
- 9–10: Fourth grade
- 10–11: Fifth grade
- 11–12: Sixth grade
- 12–13: Seventh grade
The second school is "ungdomsskole" (youth-school). At this level the students are rated with grades in each subject, in addition to behavior and orderliness:
- 13–14: Eighth grade
- 14–15: Ninth grade
- 15–16: Tenth grade
The last school before higher education is called "videregående skole" (ongoing school) and is voluntary, though most choose to attend. At this level students decide among separate career-related schools. The most popular such school is designed to prepare one for further education, while others prepare students for vocations such as mechanics, electricians, cooks and so on. Educational stages in these schools begin again at "one" and are named Vg1, Vg2, Vg3 and Vg4. Some of the more practical schools last only two years, and some students may choose to attend an extra year to study higher education. The typical duration is three years, though some schools offer a four-year program to enable students to engage in more athletics or gather real work experience.
- 16–17: Vg1
- 17–18: Vg2
- 18–19: Vg3
- 19–20: Vg4
Previously in the Philippines, there are only ten years of compulsory education. School starts on the first or second week of June, while school ends in the last week of March or first week of April. There are three stages of education in the Philippines — elementary, junior high school, and senior high school. The original ten years of compulsory education, was raised to twelve years of education. This policy was implemented in June, 2012. Here is the table:
|Grade 1||6–7||Primary school|
|Grade 7||12–13||Secondary school||Junior high school|
|Grade 11||16–17||Senior high school|
In Russia, compulsory education lasts eight or nine years and begins the year the child turns seven (8 years) or, sometimes, six (9 years). The first stage of elementary school can last either 3 years (so called 1–3 programme for children starting at the age of 7) or 4 years (so called 1–4 programme for children starting at the age of 6). After of the first stage all pupils enter 5th grade, thus pupils that started at the age of 7 do not attend the 4th grade.
|First Grade||7–8 (6–7)||Elementary|
|Second Grade||8–9 (7–8)|
|Third Grade||9–10 (8–9)|
|Fourth grade||9–10 (only for the pupils studying by 1–4 programme)|
In Singapore, compulsory education lasts ten years and begins the year the child turns seven. However, most children receive a preschool education spanning two to three years before entering primary school after which they will move on to a secondary school.
While it is not compulsory to remain in school after graduating from secondary school, most go on to receive their tertiary education at a junior college, a polytechnic, or an institute of technical education (ITE) before moving on to university.
England and Wales
In England and Wales education is divided into two stages: primary education and secondary education. Required assessment within the National Curriculum takes place in years 2 and 6 (National Curriculum assessments) and Year 11 (GCSEs). School education is generally followed by two years of further education – often in a Sixth form or Sixth form college and then three or four years at university by those who decide to stay in education.
Children begin school either in the school year or school term in which they reach their fifth birthday. Primary schools educate children from Reception through to Year 6, and may be subdivided into infant and junior schools. Alternatively, children may attend private prep schools.
Secondary education is compulsory to the age of 16. Schools have various possible names, such as grammar, comprehensive and secondary schools, which may or may not indicate selective admission or tuition fees (see main article). Sixth Form education is not compulsory at present, and not all secondary schools have a sixth form. There are also Sixth form colleges just for Year 12 and 13 students.
Some secondary schools still use the 'form' system, with Year 7 being First Form (or "first year"), Year 8 being Second Form, et cetera, up until Years 12 and 13, which together make up the Sixth Form (namely lower and upper sixth form). Some independent schools use other naming systems.
In some areas in England, a three-tier system of education is used, in which students pass through three stages: First school/Lower school (Reception to Year 3/4), Middle school (Year 4/5 to Year 7/8) and finally High or Upper School (Year 8/9–Year 13).
|Nursery||3–4||Early Years / Foundation|
|Reception||4–5||Infant or Primary|
|Year One||5–6||Key Stage 1|
|Year Three||7–8||Junior or Primary||Key Stage 2|
|Year Seven||11–12||Secondary||Key Stage 3|
|Year Ten||14–15||Key Stage 4|
|Year Twelve||16–17||Secondary or Sixth form college||Key Stage 5|
The system in place in Northern Ireland resembles that in place in England Wales, but there are notable differences. Education is compulsory during only 12 years, with pupils starting primary school in the September following their 4th birthday (except for those born in July or August, who start a year later). Years are numbered from this point, meaning that Year 2 in the Northern Irish system is the closest in age range to England's Year 1.
As with England and Wales, education is divided into primary and secondary (or post-primary) sectors, with a division at age 11. The label Key Stage is also used, although with slightly different meanings to those seen in England. As of 2007[update] the province has a wholly selective system at the post-primary level, with all Year 7 pupils taking the Eleven plus tests. This system will end with the new intake in 2009, with new arrangements as yet to be confirmed.
|Year One||4–5||Primary||Foundation Stage|
|Year Three||6–7||Key Stage 1|
|Year Five||8–9||Key Stage 2|
|Year Eight||11–12||Secondary||Key Stage 3|
|Year Eleven||14–15||Key Stage 4|
|Year Thirteen||16–17||Key Stage 5|
In Scotland, education is divided into two stages: primary education and secondary education. Primary education is delivered almost exclusively through primary schools which offer education for pupils aged between 4 and 12. Children are entitled to pre-school education from their third birthday, and must enter compulsory education from the August after their 5th birthday. There is some leeway in the starting date or pupils . Education lasts 7 years in the primary school, before pupils move to a secondary school for between 4 and 6 years, the last two being optional. There is some variation in the phasing of education in more remote areas of Scotland, where provision may be made in a through school, or in other combinations of institutes.
|First year (or S1)||11–13||Secondary|
|Second Year (or S2)||12–14|
|Third Year (or S3)||13–15|
|Fourth Year (or S4)||14–16|
|Fifth Year (or S5)||15–17|
|Sixth Year (or S6)||16–18|
US and Canada
In Canada (except from the province of Quebec) and the United States the grades traditionally begin at 1 and run to 12; they are referred to by ordinal number (e.g. "third grade") in the United States and by cardinal number ("Grade Three") in Canada. An additional preceding level called Kindergarten is now standard in most areas, and a further preceding level called Preschool education or Nursery school is not uncommon. In the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, as well as some parts of the state of Wisconsin, kindergarten is split further into junior and senior kindergarten.
At the secondary school level, grades 9–12 are also known as freshman (or "first-year"), sophomore, junior, and senior, especially in the United States. At the post-secondary level (college or university), these terms are used almost exclusively to refer to what would otherwise be grades 13–16, also mainly in the United States. However, at the post-secondary level in Canada, freshman is often called first-year, sophomore as second-year, and so on.
The Quebec system differs slightly, kindergarten (maternelle) is followed by elementary school (école primaire, from grade one to six), then followed by five years of high school or secondary school (école secondaire). This is typically followed by college, a two-year pre-university (university for Quebecers is three years, except Engineering), or three-year vocational program taken after high school. (see Education in Quebec)
|Ages||U.S. Grade||Canadian Grade|
|6–7||First grade||Grade 1|
|7–8||Second grade||Grade 2|
|8–9||Third grade||Grade 3|
|9–10||Fourth grade||Grade 4|
|10–11||Fifth grade||Grade 5|
|11–12||Sixth grade||Grade 6|
|12–13||Seventh grade||Grade 7|
|13–14||Eighth grade||Grade 8|
|14–15||Ninth grade (Freshman)||Grade 9|
|15–16||Tenth grade (Sophomore)||Grade 10|
|16–17||Eleventh grade (Junior)||Grade 11|
|17–18||Twelfth grade (Senior)||Grade 12|