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Children must receive education from the start of the term after their fifth birthday, though many start earlier.

In England and Wales, Primary schools admit children from the ages of four (in Reception classes) through to 11. Key Stage
1 (the infant age range) is from age five to seven; and Key Stage 2 (the junior age range) is from age seven to 11. Secondary schools admit children from the ages of 11 through to 16. This is known as Key Stages 3 and 4.

Pupils in Wales can leave school on the last Friday in June of the school year in which they are 16. In England, they must continue in education until their 18th birthday. This can include apprenticeships or part-time education while working.

Education in Northern Ireland is similar to the structure set up in England, with a few key differences. For instance, the age of a child on 1 July determines when they need to start school, whereas in England and Wales it is 1 September. Also, all Northern Irish schools follow the Northern Ireland Curriculum. Primary school students do not take Key Stage 1 or Key Stage 2 National Curriculum Tests (Standard Attainment Tests, or SATs).

Children in Scotland complete seven years of primary school, starting in P1 (the equivalent of Year 1 classes in England), going up to P7. After this, they do six years of secondary school from S1 to S6 (equivalent to Y8 to Y13 in England). Secondary schools in Scotland are also known as high schools or academies. In place of the National Curriculum, Scotland follows the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).

Scottish children do not take SATs, but Scotland’s First Minister announced in August 2015 that new national, standardised assessments are to be introduced for pupils in P1, P4, P7 and S3. The new assessments will start in 2017, after being piloted in 2016, and will focus on literacy and numeracy.

Published in For Families Law