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british education: academies, specialty, foundation..

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I'm quite confused with the education system in british.

I've heard that there's an academies, speciality school, beacon school, city technology college, and even more confusing, a new member named foundation school is coming to join.

What are they all about? What kind of students (in terms of academic results, family wealth, or ability in music / sports ...) is supposed to join them? What is their equivelance to the traditional school grades? (Form 1- Form 7?) And what main subject do they focus?

Well, i know it's weird to ask a question about british in a chinese forum, but it seems that many british go around here. It may be a good way to exchange news.

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I'm not surprised you're confused. The British education system is complex and sometimes doesn't make much sense to us Brits either!

Basically there are three levels of school - Primary School, Junior School and Secondary School. Compulsory education begins at 5 years old and the transfer to secondary school happens at the age of 11 or 12.

The National Curriculum in England and Wales is divided into four Key Stages (KS), three core subjects (English, Mathematics and Science) and nine non-core foundation subjects. Secondary schools are classified according to what they do and where they get their funding so you get technology colleges etc.

The Key Stages are age-related: KS 1 goes up to age seven, KS 2 from seven to eleven, KS 3 from eleven to fourteen (pre-GCSE) and KS 4 from fourteen to sixteen (preparation for GCSE and equivalent vocational qualifications). From sixteen to eighteen you can stay on at certain types of school or go to a sixth form college to prepare for university. I don't know how this relates to your grading system as I'm not familiar with it.

The weirdest part is that their are "public" schools such as Eton and Harrow that you may have heard of. They are not public at all - to go to them you have to pay (a lot)!!

Here is a link that might help you with some more info.


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Eton and Harrow are really top-end posh schools! (they can almost be considered private)

State schools, which are free and funded by the govt, are usually regarded on the other end...

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Not almost - they are private schools. 'Public school' and 'Private school' are interchangeable in British English. Fee-paying schools.

Insane? Yes. It's some kind of historical throwback.

To avoid the confusion, we use the term 'state school' (as you mentioned) to describe the government-run, non-fee paying schools.

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i have so much relief after i read the replies here---i'm not alone to feel confused about the british system. :wink:

But it makes me even more confused about the voucher. I've heard that the Tory has introduced it recently. How can the unruling party introduce such system? Is the voucher system applied to the whole UK?

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