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UK Education Information

Education is a primary concern of UK society, with free, compulsory school attendance starting from the age of 5 and continuing to the age of 16.  The education system varies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; for example, compulsory school attendance begins at the age of 4 in Northern Ireland).  There are certain education responsibilities and requirements that all new migrants must be aware of when entering the UK.

Primary / Secondary Education

Parental Responsibility

The child's parent or guardian is responsible for their child's attendance and ensuring that they arrive on time and maintain a good attendance record for the whole school year.  Failure to do so can lead to the parent / guardian's prosecution

Nursery School

Some UK areas grant free nursery education for children over the age of 3, but in other areas, you might be required to pay a fee for your child's attendance.

Primary School

This length of primary schooling differs in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales.  See the table below to display the requirements of each country:

Primary School Attendance Requirements
Country Period of Required Attendance
England and Wales From the age of 5 to 11
Scotland From the age of 5 to 12
Northern Ireland From the age of 4 to 11

The primary school attended by a child is generally the one closest to their home, should they attend state schools (although other options, such as private education and faith schools are available). Children are usually taught in a mixed gender environment (so boys and girls together), and often one class / group of children is assigned one teacher to guide them through their day's teaching. The teaching and assessment will always adhere to the UK Curriculum and Assessments rules, although this can differ between countries.

Secondary School

From the age of 11 (or 12 in Scotland) children are required to go to secondary school.  Secondary schools are generally larger than primary schools, with most being mixed sex (although single sex schools still exist in some areas). Your local education authority will have all the necessary details on the options available to you and the process of applying for secondary schools. The completion of secondary school and their GCSEs brings children to the end of their mandatory education, which is outlined on the UK Curriculum and Assessments page.

Following the successful completion of secondary school, students then have the option to continue their learning and go onto Further and Higher Education.


There is no charge for state school education. However, parents are required to cover the costs of uniforms, sports wear, school trips and any extra-curricular activities like music lessons.  Should you be on low income, you can request help with any costs that stem from your child's education, with advice on how to do so available from the local education authority or Citizens Advice Bureau.

Alternate Schooling Options

Church and faith schools

While the majority of faith schools in the UK are linked to the Church of England or Roman Catholic Church, other areas have Muslim, Jewish and Sikh schools.  Contrarily, Northern Ireland has a number of Integrated Schools, which are designed to being children of different religions together.

Independent schools

At independent schools (also known as public schools), parents are required to pay the full cost of their child's education, although some offer scholarships which pay some or all of the costs of the child's education.  There are currently over 2,500 independent schools in the UK.