Primary school

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An elementary school class in Japan Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.jpg
An elementary school class in Japan
Elementary school in Visnove (Slovakia) ZS Visnove.JPG
Elementary school in Višňové (Slovakia)
An aerial photo of a primary school in Hayesville, North Carolina An aerial photo of a primary school in Hayesville, North Carolina.jpg
An aerial photo of a primary school in Hayesville, North Carolina
Classroom with chairs on desks in the Netherlands Empty classroom.jpg
Classroom with chairs on desks in the Netherlands

A primary school (in Ireland, India, the United Kingdom, [1] Australia, [2] New Zealand, [3] Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and South Africa), elementary school, or grade school (in North America and the Philippines) is a school for primary education of children who are 4 to 10 years of age (and in many cases, 11 years of age). Primary schooling follows preschool and precedes secondary schooling.


The International Standard Classification of Education considers primary education as a single phase where programmes are typically designed to provide fundamental skills in reading, writing, and mathematics and to establish a solid foundation for learning. This is ISCED Level 1: Primary education or first stage of basic education. [4]

Levels of education

ISCED 2011 levels of education
0 Early childhood education (01 Early childhood educational development)Education designed to support early development in preparation for participation in school and society. Programmes designed for children below the age of 3.
Early childhood education (02 Pre-primary education)Education designed to support early development in preparation for participation in school and society. Programmes designed for children from age 3 to the start of primary education.
1 Primary education Programmes typically designed to provide students with fundamental skills in reading, writing and mathematics and to establish a solid foundation for learning.
2 Lower secondary education First stage of secondary education building on primary education, typically with a more subject-oriented curriculum.
3 Upper secondary education Second/final stage of secondary education preparing for tertiary education or providing skills relevant to employment. Usually with an increased range of subject options and streams.
4Post-secondary non-tertiary educationProgrammes providing learning experiences that build on secondary education and prepare for labour market entry or tertiary education. The content is broader than secondary but not as complex as tertiary education.
5Short-cycle tertiary education Short first tertiary programmes that are typically practically-based, occupationally-specific and prepare for labour market entry. These programmes may also provide a pathway to other tertiary programmes.
6 Bachelor's or equivalentProgrammes designed to provide intermediate academic or professional knowledge, skills and competencies leading to a first tertiary degree or equivalent qualification.
7 Master's or equivalentProgrammes designed to provide advanced academic or professional knowledge, skills and competencies leading to a second tertiary degree or equivalent qualification.
8 Doctorate or equivalentProgrammes designed primarily to lead to an advanced research qualification, usually concluding with the submission and defense of a substantive dissertation of publishable quality based on original research.

Comparison of cohorts

Within the English speaking world, there are three widely used systems to describe the age of the child. The first is the "equivalent ages", then countries that base their education systems on the "English model" use one of two methods to identify the year group, while countries that base their systems on the "American K–12 model" refer to their year groups as "grades". Canada also follows the American model, although its names for year groups are put as a number after the grade: For instance, "Grade 1" in Canada, rather than "First Grade" in the United States. This terminology extends into the research literature. [5]

In Canada, education is a Provincial, not a Federal responsibility. For example, the province of Ontario also had a "Grade 13", designed to help students enter the workforce or post-secondary education, but this was phased out in the year 2003.

Equivalent ages4–55–66–77–88–99–1010–11
U.S. (grades)Pre-KK12345
IrelandJunior InfantsSenior Infants1st Class2nd Class3rd Class4th Class5th Class
England (forms)ReceptionInfantsTop infantsJunior 1Junior 2Junior 3Junior 4
England (year)R123456
England (keystage)EYFS/FSKS1KS1KS2KS2KS2KS2
JamaicaPre-KK-1Grade 1Grade 2Grade 3Grade 4Grade 5
ISCED level0111111 [5]
Indonesia[ citation needed ]TK ATK BSD Kelas 1SD Kelas 2SD Kelas 3SD Kelas 4SD Kelas 5
Equivalent ages11–1212–1313–1414–1515–1616–1717–18
U.S. (grades)6789101112
Ireland6th Class1st Year2nd Year3rd Year4th Year5th Year6th Year
England (forms)FirstSecondThirdFourthFifthLower SixthUpper Sixth
England (year)78910111213
England (keystage)KS3KS3KS3KS4KS4KS5KS5
Jamaica (forms)FirstSecondThirdFourthFifthLower SixthUpper Sixth
Jamaica (grades)78910111213
ISCED level2223333 [5]
Indonesia[ citation needed ]SD Kelas 6SMP Kelas 7SMP Kelas 8SMP Kelas 9SMA Kelas 10SMA Kelas 11SMA Kelas 12

Primary schools

A current classroom for 6-7-year olds in Switzerland Orbe - Chantemerle - salle de classe 1.jpg
A current classroom for 6–7-year olds in Switzerland
School rooms/classrooms of the private Catholic elementary school in Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz Grundschule Haus St Marien Neumarkt - Klassenzimmer 06.JPG
School rooms/classrooms of the private Catholic elementary school in Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz

In most parts of the world, primary education is the first stage of compulsory education, and is normally available without charge, but may also be offered by fee-paying independent schools. The term grade school is sometimes used in the US, although both this term and elementary school may refer to the first eight grades, in other words both primary education and lower secondary education. [6] [7] [8]

The term primary school is derived from the French école primaire, which was first used in an English text in 1802. [9] In the United Kingdom, "elementary education" was taught in "elementary schools" until 1944, when free elementary education was proposed for students over 11: there were to be primary elementary schools and secondary elementary schools; [lower-alpha 1] these became known as primary schools and secondary schools.

In some parts of the United States, "primary school" refers to a school covering kindergarten through to second grade or third grade (K through 2 or 3); the "elementary school" includes grade three through five or grades four to six.[ citation needed ] In Canada, "elementary school" almost everywhere refers to Grades 1 through 6; with Kindergarten being referred to as "preschool."[ citation needed ]

Elementary schools

Though often used as a synonym, "elementary school" has specific meanings in different locations.

Theoretical framework of primary school design

School building design does not happen in isolation. The building (or school campus) needs to accommodate:

Each country will have a different education system and priorities. [19] Schools need to accommodate students, staff, storage, mechanical and electrical systems, storage, support staff, ancillary staff and administration. The number of rooms required can be determined from the predicted roll of the school and the area needed.

According to standards used in the United Kingdom, a general classroom for 30 reception class or infant (Keystage 1) students needs to be 62 m2, or 55 m2 for juniors (Keystage 2). [20] Examples are given on how this can be configured for a 210 place primary with attached 26 place nursery [21] and two-storey 420 place (two form entry) primary school with attached 26 place nursery. [22]

Building design specifications

The first taxpayer-funded public school in the United States was in Dedham First school.jpg
The first taxpayer-funded public school in the United States was in Dedham
SJK (C) Keat Hwa H Primary School in Alor Setar Dfsdfsdfsdfs.jpg
SJK (C) Keat Hwa H Primary School in Alor Setar
SJK (C) Chi Hwa Eco-Nature Primary School in Sandakan, Malaysia Sandakan Sabah SJKC-Chi-Hwa-06.jpg
SJK (C) Chi Hwa Eco-Nature Primary School in Sandakan, Malaysia
A classroom library in the US ClassroomLibrary.jpg
A classroom library in the US

The building providing the education has to fulfill the needs of: The students, the teachers, the non-teaching support staff, the administrators and the community. It has to meet general government building guidelines, health requirements, minimal functional requirements for classrooms, toilets and showers, electricity and services, preparation and storage of textbooks and basic teaching aids. [23] An optimum school will meet the minimum conditions and will have:

Government accountants having read the advice then publish minimum guidelines on schools. These enable environmental modelling and establishing building costs. Future design plans are audited to ensure that these standards are met but not exceeded. Government ministries continue to press for the 'minimum' space and cost standards to be reduced.

The UK government published this downwardly revised space formula for primary schools in 2014. It said the floor area should be 350 m2 + 4.1 m2/pupil place. The external finishes were to be downgraded to meet a build cost of £1113/m2. [24]

Governance and funding

There are three main ways of funding a school: it can funded by the state through general taxation, it can be funded by a pressure group such as the mosque or the church, it can be funded by a charity or it can be funded by contributions from the parents or a combination of these methods. Day to day oversight of the school can through a board of governors, the pressure group, or the owner.[ citation needed ]

The United Kingdom allowed elementary education to be delivered in church schools, whereas in France this was illegal as there is strict separation of church and state.


This can be through informal assessment by the staff and governors such as in Finland, or by a state run testing regime such as Ofsted in the United Kingdom. [25]

See also


  1. Secondary elementary school: A term already used by London County Council from 1921 to describe some 11–14 schools, [10] and term still in use in Florida, Ohio and Brazil.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">School</span> Institution for the education of students by teachers

A school is an educational institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is sometimes compulsory. In these systems, students progress through a series of schools. The names for these schools vary by country but generally include primary school for young children and secondary school for teenagers who have completed primary education. An institution where higher education is taught is commonly called a university college or university.

Secondary education or post-primary education covers two phases on the International Standard Classification of Education scale. Level 2 or lower secondary education is considered the second and final phase of basic education, and level 3 upper secondary education or senior secondary education is the stage before tertiary education. Every country aims to provide basic education, but the systems and terminology remain unique to them. Secondary education typically takes place after six years of primary education and is followed by higher education, vocational education or employment. In most countries secondary education is compulsory, at least until the age of 16. Children typically enter the lower secondary phase around age 12. Compulsory education sometimes extends to age 20.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tertiary education</span> Advanced level of education, usually for adults

Tertiary education, also referred to as third-level, third-stage or post-secondary education, is the educational level following the completion of secondary education. The World Bank, for example, defines tertiary education as including universities as well as trade schools and colleges. Higher education is taken to include undergraduate and postgraduate education, while vocational education beyond secondary education is known as further education in the United Kingdom, or included under the category of continuing education in the United States.

Education in England is overseen by the United Kingdom's Department for Education. Local government authorities are responsible for implementing policy for public education and state-funded schools at a local level.

Education in the United Kingdom is a devolved matter with each of the countries of the United Kingdom having separate systems under separate governments. The UK Government is responsible for England, whilst the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive are responsible for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, respectively.

Education in Scotland is provided in state schools, private schools and by individuals through homeschooling. Mandatory education in Scotland begins for children in Primary 1 (P1) at primary school and ends in Sixth Year (S6) at secondary school. Overall accountability and control of education in Scotland rests with the Scottish Government, and is overseen by its executive agency, Education Scotland. Children in Scotland sit mandatory National Standardised Assessments in P1, Primary 4 (P4), Primary 7 (P7) at the end of primary school and Third Year (S3), which assist in monitoring children's progress and providing diagnostic data information to support teachers' professional judgement.

This article provides an overview of education in Wales from early childhood to university and adult skills. Largely state funded and free-at-the-point-of-use at a primary and secondary level, education is compulsory for children in Wales aged five to sixteen years old. It differs to some extent in structure and content to other parts of the United Kingdom, in the later case particularly in relation to the teaching of the Welsh language.

The education system in Northern Ireland differs from elsewhere in the United Kingdom, but is similar to the Republic of Ireland in sharing in the development of the national school system and serving a similar society with a relatively rural population. A child's age on 1 July determines the point of entry into the relevant stage of education in the region, whereas the relevant date in England and Wales is 1 September.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Secondary education in the United States</span> Last seven years of statutory formal education before higher level education

Secondary education is the last six or seven years of statutory formal education in the United States. It culminates with twelfth grade. Whether it begins with sixth grade or seventh grade varies by state and sometimes by school district.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">State school</span> Type of school funded in whole or in part by general taxation

A state school or public school is a primary or secondary school that educates all students without charge. Such schools are funded in whole or in part by taxation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Secondary school</span> Institution or building where secondary education is provided

A secondary school or high school is an institution that provides secondary education and also usually includes the building where this takes place. Some secondary schools provide both lower secondary education and upper secondary education, i.e., both levels 2 and 3 of the ISCED scale, but these can also be provided in separate schools.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the part of the United States Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES) that collects, analyzes, and publishes statistics on education and public school district finance information in the United States. It also conducts international comparisons of education statistics and provides leadership in developing and promoting the use of standardized terminology and definitions for the collection of those statistics. NCES is a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System.

An educational institution is a place where people of different ages gain an education, including preschools, childcare, primary-elementary schools, secondary-high schools, and universities. They provide a large variety of learning environments and learning spaces.

Educational stages are subdivisions of formal learning, typically covering early childhood education, primary education, secondary education and tertiary education. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognizes nine levels of education in its International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) system. UNESCO's International Bureau of Education maintains a database of country-specific education systems and their stages. Some countries divide levels of study into grades or forms for school children in the same year.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Education in Guyana</span> Overview of education in Guyana

Education in Guyana is provided largely by the Government of Guyana, through the Ministry of Education and its arms in the ten different regions of the country. Guyana's education system is a legacy from its time as British Guiana, and is similar to that of the other anglophone member states of the Caribbean Community, which are affiliated to the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC). School curricula, funding, standards and other policies are set by the central government and implemented through the Ministry of Education and related agencies. The Education System is divided into eleven districts, ten of which correspond to the national administrative and geographical regions of the country, while the capital, Georgetown, is treated as a separate education district, district 11. With 8.3% of its GDP spent on education, Guyana sits with Cuba, Iceland, Denmark and Botswana as among the few countries with top spending on education.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Primary education</span> First stage of formal education

Primary education or elementary education is typically the first stage of formal education, coming after preschool/kindergarten and before secondary school. Primary education takes place in primary schools, elementary schools, or first schools and middle schools, depending on the location. Hence, in the United Kingdom and some other countries, the term primary is used instead of elementary.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elementary schools in the United States</span> Primary education in the United States

In the United States, elementary schools are the main point of delivery of primary education, for children between the ages of 4–11 and coming between pre-kindergarten and secondary education.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education in the United Kingdom</span>

In March 2020, nurseries, schools, and colleges in the United Kingdom were shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. By 20 March, all schools in the UK had closed for all in-person teaching, except for children of key workers and children considered vulnerable. With children at home, teaching took place online. The emergence of a new variant of COVID-19 in December 2020 led to cancellation of face-to-face teaching across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales the following month.


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