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Educational stages vary around the world. Some countries describe the different stages in years, whereas other countries use a system of grades.


In Australia children undergo twelve years of formal education plus kindergarten and/or a "preparatory grade" or "Prep", usually starting at ages four to five and finishing at ages 17 to 18. The Years are numbered from 1 to 12. Primary school is typically Years 1-7, and secondary school Years 8-12.


There are nine compulsory years of education in the PRC, Primary (小学) 1-6 and Elementary Middle (初中) 1-3. There are an optional three extra years of Upper Middle (高中) 1-3 which may be followed by study at university.

Hong Kong

The Hong Kong system is based on the United Kingdom system, with an optional year at kindergarten, six years of primary school (小學) and seven years of secondary school (中學), followed by three years at university. Primary 1 - 6 (小一 - 小六) corresponds to Years 1 - 6 in the UK, and Forms 1 - 7 (中一 - 中七)correspond to Years 7 - 13. Usually students begin Primary One at age 5 or 6 and complete Form 7 at age 18 or 19.

There are plans to change the system to 12 years of compulsory education at school (that is, removal of Form 7) followed by four years at university, mimicking the United States.

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.


The most junior level of schooling in France is l'école maternelle. Compulsory education begins at the age of six, when children enter l'école élémentaire. The two may be combined, known as l'école primaire. The numbered years, or classes are as follows:

  • Cycle I : cycle des apprentissages premiers
    • Toute Petite Section or TPS
    • Petite Section or PS
    • Moyenne Section or MS
    • Grande Section or GS
  • Cycle II : cycle des apprentissages fondamentaux
    • Second year : Cours préparatoire or CP (6-7 years).
    • Third year : Cours élémentaire niveau 1 or CE1 (7-8 years).
  • Cycle III : cycles des approfondissements
    • First year : Cours élémentaire niveau 2 or CE2 (8-9 years).
    • Second year : Cours moyen niveau 1 or CM1 (9-10 years).
    • Third year : Cours moyen niveau 2 or CM2 (10-11 years).

After this, students attend collège, from the ages of eleven to fifteen. The classes are numbered in descending order.

  • Sixième (11-12 years)
  • Cinquième (12-13 years)
  • Quatrième (13-14 years)
  • Troisième (14-15 years)

The final part of French secondary education takes place at the lycée. Education is only compulsory to the age of 16, but le lycée covers three years, and concludes in the French Baccalaureate. These are:

  • Seconde
  • Première
  • Terminale

It is possible in France to fail a year, and need to resit (redoubler).


In Ireland,there are two levels of compulsory education, junior or primary school, and secondary or senior school. The names of each class are as follows:

  • 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)
  • Fourth Year [or Transition Year] (15-16 years)
  • Fifth Year (16-17 years)
  • Sixth Year [or Final Year] (17-18 years)


A Singaporean compulsory education lasts 12 years, beginning with Primary 1 - 6, followed by Secondary (abbreviated Sec) 1 - 4, which is followed by Pre-University (abbreviated Pre-U) 1 - 2.

United Kingdom

Main article: Education in the United Kingdom

England, Wales and Northern Ireland

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, education is divided into two stages: primary education and secondary education. Required assessment within the National Curriculum takes place in years 2, 6, 9 (Standard Attainment Tests (SATs, pronounced "sats"), not to be confused with the US (SAT) and Year 11 (GCSEs). School education is generally followed by 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. Some secondary schools still use the 'form' system, with Year 7 being First Form, Year 8 being Second Form, et cetera, up until Years 12 and 13, which together make up the Sixth Form.

In some areas in England, a three-tier system of education is used, in which students pass through three stages: First 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).

Numbering of years in English, Welsh and Northern Irish State schools
Year Ages School
Reception 4-5 Infant or Primary
Year One 5-6
Year Two 6-7
Year Three 7-8 Junior or Primary
Year Four 8-9
Year Five 9-10
Year Six 10-11
Year Seven 11-12 Secondary
Year Eight 12-13
Year Nine 13-14
Year Ten 14-15
Year Eleven 15-16
Year Twelve 16-17 Sixth Form
Year Thirteen 17-18


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[1]. 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.

Numbering of years in Scottish State schools
Year Ages School
Pre-school 3-5
Primary One 4-6 Primary
Primary Two 5-7
Primary Three 6-8
Primary Four 7-9
Primary Five 8-10
Primary Six 9-11
Primary Seven 10-12
Secondary One 11-13 Secondary
Secondary Two 12-14
Secondary Three 13-15
Secondary Four 14-16
Secondary Five 15-17
Secondary Six 16-18

United States and Canada

Main article Education in the United States

In Canada and the United States the grades traditionally begin at 1 and run to 12 (or 11 or 13 in some areas); in the US they are referred to by ordinal number (e.g. "third grade"), while in Canada the cardinal number is used (e.g. "grade 3"). An additional preceding level called Kindergarten is now standard in most areas, and a further preceding level called Preschool or Nursery school is not uncommon.

At the secondary school level, grades 9–12 are also known as freshman (or "first-year"), sophomore, junior, and senior. At the post-secondary level (college or university), these terms are used almost exclusively to refer to what would otherwise be grades 13–16.

These tables outlines the ages, in years, of each grade level. However, students are sometimes older because of grade retention.

Elementary school: (sometimes includes 6th grade)

Grade Ages
Kindergarten 5-6
First grade 6-7
Second grade 7-8
Third grade 8-9
Fourth grade 9-10
Fifth grade 10-11

Middle school: (sometimes includes 5th or 9th grade)

Grade Ages
Sixth grade 11-12
Seventh grade 12-13
Eighth grade 13-14

High school:

Grade Ages
Ninth grade, Freshman 14-15
Tenth grade, Sophomore 15-16
Eleventh Grade, Junior 16-17
Twelfth Grade, Senior 17-18

Children typically start school at age five, but may turn six during the school year. This accounts for age differences within the same grade. Different school districts have different entrance requirements, with some using age on the first day of school, and others using age on a specified date. Also, some areas use junior high school, typically grades 7-8 or 9, instead of middle school. The grade configurations vary from school to school and district to district in the USA.

See also

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