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State School System

The state school system in the United Kingdom...

Nine out of ten children in the UK are educated in the state system, which is funded by the government. According to the British Council, some 8.5 million children attend one of the 30,000 schools in England and Wales; in Scotland 830,000 children attend about 5,000 schools; and Northern Ireland sends 350,000 children to 1,300 state schools. Primary schools usually include both girls and boys as pupils. Secondary schools may be either single-sex or co-educational.

Education departments in England, Scotland and Wales fund schools through a Local Education Authority (or in Scotland, the Education Authority). In Northern Ireland, schools are largely financed from public funds through five Education and Library Boards.

The education system is generally split into four sections:

  1. Primary schools: for children aged between five and eleven. They are usually mixed gender and can be either secular or religion-based.
  2. Secondary schools: most pupils transfer from primary to secondary school at the age of 11. However, a system of middle schools also exists; here pupils are transferred from primary school at either age 8 or 9 years, then onto secondary education at the age 12 or 13 years. Most secondary schools in England are comprehensive and do not operate a selective entrance system. However, in some parts of England, a grammar school system also operates and pupils are usually required to pass an entrance examination based on their ability.
  3. Further education: for children aged between 16 and 19 who want to stay on at school or college to gain more qualifications.
  4. Higher education: for teenagers and young adults wanting to go to university or college to study for a degree or diploma.
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