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Most people are educated through a series of Educational stages, such as primary school and university. They vary around the world, and not every person will attend the same stages. Some countries describe the different stages in years, whereas other countries use a system of grades.

By region


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCOmarker) recognizes seven levels of education in its International Standard Classification of Education system (ISCED). These range from Level 0 (pre-primary education) to Level 6 (second stage of tertiary education). UNESCO's International Bureau of Education maintains a database of country-specific education systems and their stages.


In Australia, children undergo twelve years of formal education (plus kindergarten and/or a "preparatory grade" or "Prep"), usually starting at age five or six, and finishing at age 17 or 18. The Years are numbered from 1 to 12.

In ACTmarker, NSWmarker, TASmarker, and VICmarker, primary school is Years 1–6, and secondary school, Years 7–12. In WAmarker, SAmarker, and QLDmarker, primary school is Years 1–7 and secondary school, Years 8–12.


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
Educação Infantil (Brazil Grade) Ages Correspondent in the U.S
Creche 0–3 Day Care
Pré-Escola 4–6 Preschool

Ensino Fundamental
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:
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


There are nine compulsory years of education in the PRCmarker, 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 Kongmarker system was based on the United Kingdommarker 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.

The system is now changed to 12 years of compulsory education at school (that is, removal of Form 7) followed by four years at university.

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 14 or 16 le lycée covers three years, and concludes in the French Baccalaureat. These are:
  • Seconde
  • Première
  • Terminale

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


In the Republic of Irelandmarker, there are two levels of compulsory education; primary school (ca.5-12 years of age) and secondary school (ca.13-18 years). 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;

Junior Cycle:
  • 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)

Senior Cycle:

In some schools, Transition Year is compulsory, in others it is optional, and in others is not available.


Compulsory education in Malaysia spans a period of 11 years and comprises both primary and secondary education. Kindergarten is optional.

Malaysian primary school consists of six years of education, referred to as Standard 1 to Standard 6. Standards 1 – 3 are classified as Level One (Tahap Satu in Malay) while Standards 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 Standard 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.


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


In Russiamarker, 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.

Educational Stages in Russia
Year Ages School

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 studding by 1-4 programme)
Fifth Grade 10–11 Middle
Sixth Grade 11–12
Seventh Grade 12–13
Eighth Grade 13–14
Ninth Grade 14–15
Tenth Grade 15–16 High
Eleventh Grade 16–17

While it is not compulsory to remain in school after graduating from middle school, a student can't progress to university without graduating from high school or vocational technical school.


In Singaporemarker, 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.

Educational Stages in Singapore
Year Ages School
Preschool 3–6
Primary One 6–7 Primary
Primary Two 7–8
Primary Three 8–9
Primary Four 9–10
Primary Five 10–11
Primary Six 11–12
Secondary One 12–13 Secondary
Secondary Two 13–14
Secondary Three 14–15
Secondary Four 15–16

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.

United Kingdom

England and Wales

In Englandmarker and Walesmarker education is divided into two stages: primary education and secondary education. Required assessment within the National Curriculum takes place in years 2, 6, 9 (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 school.

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).

Numbering of years in English and Welsh State schools
Year Ages School Key Stage
Nursery 3-4 Early Years / Foundation
Reception 4–5 Infant or Primary
Year One 5–6 Key Stage 1
Year Two 6–7
Year Three 7–8 Junior or Primary Key Stage 2
Year Four 8–9
Year Five 9–10
Year Six 10–11
Year Seven 11–12 Secondary Key Stage 3
Year Eight 12–13
Year Nine 13–14
Year Ten 14–15 Key Stage 4
Year Eleven 15–16
Year Twelve 16–17 Secondary or Sixth form college Key Stage 5
Year Thirteen 17–18

Northern Ireland

The system in place in Northern Irelandmarker 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. 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.

Numbering of years in Northern Irish State schools
Year Ages School Key Stage
Year One 4–5 Primary Foundation Stage
Year Two 5–6
Year Three 6–7 Key Stage 1
Year Four 7–8
Year Five 8–9 Key Stage 2
Year Six 9–10
Year Seven 10–11
Year Eight 11–12 Secondary Key Stage 3
Year Nine 12–13
Year Ten 13–14
Year Eleven 14–15 Key Stage 4
Year Twelve 15–16


In Scotlandmarker, 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[212739].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
Nursery 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 articles: Education in the United States, Education in Canada

In Canadamarker and the United Statesmarker the grades traditionally begin at 1 and run to 12 (or 11 in some areas ); 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.

These tables outline the ages, in years, of each grade level. However, students are sometimes older because of grade retention or younger because of grade skipping.

Elementary school: (sometimes includes 5th or 6th grade, and sometimes goes up to 8th grade)

U.S. Grade Ages Canadian Grade
kindergarten 5–6 kindergarten
first grade 6–7 Grade 1
second grade 7–8 Grade 2
third grade 8–9 Grade 3
fourth grade 9–10 Grade 4
Middle school: (variations: grade 5–6, grade 6–8, grade 5–8, grade 5–9, grade 6–9, grade 7–8, grade 7-9)

U.S. Grade Ages Canadian Grade
fifth grade 10–11 Grade 5
sixth grade 11–12 Grade 6
seventh grade 12–13 Grade 7
eighth grade 13–14 Grade 8

High school:

U.S. Grade Ages Canadian Grade
ninth grade, freshman 14–15 Grade 9
tenth grade, sophomore 15–16 Grade 10
eleventh grade, junior 16–17 Grade 11
twelfth grade, senior 17–18 Grade 12

Children typically start school at age five or six. 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 United States and Canada. The most common grade configuration in the United States currently is K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 but many other configurations exist.

See also

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