Did you know that students studying in the British system can study subjects such as art, theatre, design technology, computer science, in addition to the basic subjects?

Did you know that in the last two years of high school, students study only 3 or 4 subjects, chosen according to their abilities and preferences, but also taking into account the admission requirements of universities?

The British education system is also offered by schools outside the UK.

Is the British education system right for you?

YES The British education system


Education in England is compulsory for children aged 5 to 16 y.o. covering the primary and secondary education, from Y1 to Y11.

Primary education is covered from Y1 to Y6,  and secondary education is covered from Y7 to Y11. In the last two years of secondary education, they prepare for GCSE exams (General Certificate of Secondary Education). That’s why, Y10 + Y11 are also known as GCSE programme.

After GCSE, students may continue their studies with A-Level programme (Y12 + Y13). Those who would like to study more than 3-4 subjects, may continue their studies with International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, offered by some independent schools.

The main entry points, if you would like to continue your studies in a British school, are Y7, Y9 and Y12. Admission to Y8, Y10 and Y11 depends on each school’s admission policy.

British education system


YEAR 12 ENTRY, 16+
YEAR 11 ENTRY, 15+
Y10 ENTRY, 14+
Y9 ENTRY, 13+
Y8 ENTRY, 12+
Y7 ENTRY, 11+

Y7, Y8

Y7 and Y8 are the first two years of secondary education. In some independent schools, they are part of Junior School, in others are part of Senior School. 

All students study English, Maths, Sciences, a Humanity and a Modern Language. Besides these subjects, each school has a list of optional subjects (Art, Music, Drama, Latin, Sport Science, Design Technology, Computer Science),  and students may choose a few subjects that present interest for them. 

In some schools, students sit Common Entrance Exam in Y8. There are 3 examination sessions, in November, January and May/June. The transition from Junior to Senior School (from Y8 to Y9) may be conditioned by the Common Entrance Exam results in those schools.


Y9 is a very important year as most of the students make the transition from Junior School to Senior School. It is also a very good foundation for the GCSE programme and it is an entry point to all schools. 

Students study English, Maths, Sciences, Humanity and Languages. In addition, students choose a few subjects from the optional subject list offered by each school. 


During the GCSE programme (Y10 + Y11), students study between 9 and 12 subjects, some of them are compulsory (English, Math, 2/3 Sciences, History/Geography, a Modern Language etc.), some being chosen by each student according to their abilities and preferences.

At the end of the 2 years GCSE programme, following the examinations on each studied subject, students receive their GCSE Certificates.

The chosen subjects and the GCSE results are very important for their Further Studies (A-Level or IB) and for their University admission. Subjects matter.


Some schools offer 1 year GCSE programme in Y11 for international students. The IGCSE programme (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) prepares international students for A-Level and/or IB.

Students study between 5 and 7 subjects, English, Maths and Science are included. Each school has a list of available subjects for IGCSE students.

At the end of Y11, students take exams in each studied subject and receive the IGCSE Certificates.

The chosen subjects and the results are very important for their Further Studies (A-Level or IB) and for their University admission. Subjects matter.


Y12 is the beginning of 2 years A-Level programme. A-Level offers flexibility and depth to its students.

During the A-Level programme, students choose 3-4 subjects to study in-depth. The subjects are chosen according to their preferences but considering the entry requirements of the universities where they wish to apply. Some schools offer to their students the possibility to add the EPQ besides the A-Level subjects.

Please don’t forget that the eligibility to study a subject or not depends on previous studies and results. Subjects matter.

At the end of Y13, following the examinations in each subject, the students get the A-Level Certificates.


In Y12, students who would like to study more than 3-4 subjects and want a holistic education, study IB instead of A-Level.

During the IB, students are studying 6 subjects, 3 at the higher level (HL) and 3 at the standard level (SL). Each school offers different subjects at different study levels (HL/SL).

The IB programme also includes a compulsory Core programme consisting of Theory of Knowledge (TOK), Extended Essay (EE) and Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS).

Students take written examinations on each subject at the end of their courses.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) prepares students for life, by developing inquiring, knowledgeable, open-minded, principled and caring young people. It is a highly regarded, internationally recognised programme, offered by more than 3421 schools in 157 different countries worldwide.

Other programmes

BTEC courses are designed for students who would like to develop practical knowledge and skills in a specific subject (Business, Psychology, Engineering, Sport, Art & Design) and find traditional exams challenging. Focussing on practical, skills-based learning, the BTEC students are assessed during the course. After each unit students are assessed through assignments, tasks or tests, and not at the end of the programme as it happens with GCSE or A-Level students.

UNIVERSITY FOUNDATION PROGRAMME is a one-year pre-university programme designed for students who are not eligible for direct entry to an undergraduate course. 

Our British partner schools also offer IB and the American education system. If you want to study abroad, Your Education Shape can be your reliable partner from admission to graduation. Contact us if you want a more in-depth and personalized discussion!



YES Study programmes

Study programmes

YES Types of schools

Types of schools

YES Admissions guide

Admissions guide

YES useful info

Useful info