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A primary school (from French école primaire) is an institution where children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as primary or elementary education. Primary school is the preferred term in the United Kingdommarker and many Commonwealth Nations, and in most publications of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCOmarker). In some countries, and especially in North America, the term elementary school is preferred. Children generally attend primary school from around the age of four or five until the age of eleven or twelve.


In Australia, Primary School is generally for children aged 5–12. In South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland grade 7 is part of primary school; in other states it forms part of secondary education. In certain year groups, students in all schools take part in the National Assessment Programme (NAP). The year levels:
Grade Age NAP
Prep 5-6 N
1 6-7 N
2 7-8 N
3 8-9 Y
4 9-10 N
5 10-11 Y
6 11-12 N
7 12-13 Y

Only in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia the seventh year of education is considered part of "primary shool". The rest of Australia considers "primary school" only from years one through six.

After primary school, students move on to high school.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, students attend primary schools for the first six years of compulsory education.


In Irelandmarker children aged between 4-5 years begin attending primary school with Junior Infants. There are eight different 'grades'. Participation is compulsory. This is the first of 14 prescribed years of formal education from a standardised curriculum set by the Department of Education.

Class Age
Junior Infants 4-5
Senior Infants 5-6
1st Class 6-7
2nd Class 7-8
3rd Class 8-9
4th Class 9-10
5th Class 10-11
6th Class 11-12


In Malaysia, the first six years of education take place in primary schools. A standardized test is given to all national primary school students at their final year, before proceeding to five years of secondary education.


In Swedenmarker kids go to the primary school (grundskola) through the ages of 7 and 16. After that they can choose to (although it is pretty uncommon not to) study at a gymnasium for three years where they pick a subject to devote their studies to (i.e. Science, Aestetics, Civics). Almost all children attend a preparatory year at the age of 6. This initial year is not mandatory.

The children don't start receiving grades until their eighth year. This is however about to change according to a new proposal from the swedish government, where grades will be given from the sixth year.

United Kingdom

In the UK schools providing primary education in the state sector are known as primary schools. They generally cater for children aged from four to eleven (Reception to Year Six; in Scotland Primary One to Primary Seven). Primary schools are often subdivided into infant schools for children from age 4-7 (Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1) and junior schools for ages 7-11 (Key Stage 2). (Excluding Scotland, where all from age 5-12 are catered for in the one institution.)

In the private sector fee-paying schools which provide primary education are known as preparatory schools, and they often cater for children up to the age of thirteen. As their name suggests, preparatory schools are designed to prepare pupils for entrance examinations for fee-paying independent schools.

United States

In the United States, the term primary school is used in a general way to describe a school housing the primary grades, usually meaning kindergarten (ages five to six) to fourth grade (ages 9 to 10), fifth (ages 10 to 11), or sixth grade (ages 11 to 12), though this is more commonly referred to as an elementary school. Very few schools in the US actually use the term primary school as part of their school name and such schools are generally private schools, serving very young children.

Some county school systems have begun to establish primary schools that are separate from (and often located within close proximity of) elementary schools and house only kindergarten through second grades.


Under the One Laptop per Child initiative, Uruguaymarker becomes the first country to deliver a free laptop to each child of primary school age.

See also


  1. Online Etymology Dictionary
  2. Primary school. In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved on 12 June 2007, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online:
  3. See the official version of Australian Government on

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