Upper school

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Upper schools in the UK are usually schools within secondary education. Outside England, the term normally refers to a section of a larger school.



The three-tier model

Upper schools are a type of secondary school found in a minority of English local education authorities. Whilst most areas in England use a two-tier educational system – primary (ages 5–11) and secondary (ages 11–16 or 11–18 if they operate a sixth form) – counties such as Leicestershire, [1] and Suffolk use a three-tier system of lower (ages 5–9 or 10), middle (ages 9 to 13 or 14), and Upper schools (ages 13 or 14 to 16, or 18 if they include Years 12 and 13, known as a Sixth form).

The introduction of such systems began in Leicestershire in 1957. West Yorkshire followed in 1963, but the system has gradually been withdrawn in some areas since the introduction of the National Curriculum. This is because of the nature of the curriculum, which is divided into Key Stages which do not fully align with the three-tier system. In some areas (such as Leicestershire) where this type of school is in use, the middle-tier schools are known as High Schools; in other areas it is the upper tier schools that are called High Schools, especially if they do not include Years 12 and 13.

In 2018, both Northumberland and Bedford were moving away from the three-tier model. [2]

Grammar schools and Upper schools

In Buckinghamshire, which retains the 11-plus, the term is used for secondary schools which admit applicants without reference to the test. [3] [4] These are elsewhere sometimes called secondary modern schools).

United States

Many independent and some parochial schools in the United States also tend to favor the term "upper school" to designate grades 9–12, normally called "high school". Schools favoring this terminology may use "middle school" for grades 6–8, "lower school" for grades 1–5, and "early childhood" (education) for pre-K through Kindergarten.

Related Research Articles

Primary school School in which children receive primary or elementary education from the age of about 5 to 12

A primary school, junior school, elementary school or grade school is a school for primary education of children who are four to eleven years of age, or till twelve or thirteen years of age in some countries. It typically comes after preschool and before secondary school.

Secondary education Second and final phase of basic education

Secondary 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 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 11. Compulsory education sometimes extends to age 19.

Student Learner, or someone who attends an educational institution

A student is primarily a person enrolled in a school or other educational institution and who is under learning with goals of acquiring knowledge, developing professions and achieving easy employment at a particular field. In the broader sense, a student is anyone who applies themselves to the intensive intellectual engagement with some matter necessary to master it as part of some practical affair in which such mastery is basic or decisive.

In the education systems of England, Northern Ireland, Wales, and some other Commonwealth countries, sixth form represents the 2 years of post-GCSE academic education, where students prepare for their A-level examinations. In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the term Key Stage 5 has the same meaning. It only refers to post-16 academic education and not to vocational education.

Gymnasium (school) Type of school providing advanced secondary education in Europe

A gymnasium is a type of school with a strong emphasis on academic learning, and providing advanced secondary education in some parts of Europe comparable to British grammar schools, sixth form colleges and US preparatory high schools. In its current meaning, it usually refers to secondary schools focused on preparing students to enter a university for advanced academic study. Before the 20th century, the system of gymnasiums was a widespread feature of educational systems throughout many countries of central, north, eastern and southern Europe.

A middle school is an educational stage which exists in some countries, providing education between primary school and secondary school. The concept, regulation and classification of middle schools, as well as the ages covered, vary between, and sometimes within, countries.

State schools, or public schools are generally primary or secondary schools which are mandated to offer education to all children without charge, and they are funded in whole or in part by taxation.

Secondary school Institution and/or building where secondary education is provided

A secondary school describes 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 ie levels 2 and 3 of the ISCED scale, but these can also be provided in separate schools, as in the American middle and high school system. In the UK, elite public schools typically admit pupils between the ages of 13 and 18. UK state schools accommodate pupils between the ages of 11 and 18.

Education on the Isle of Wight is provided by local education authority-maintained schools on the Isle of Wight, and independent schools. As a rural community, many of these schools are small, with average numbers of pupils lower than in many urban areas. It was decided on 19 March 2008, in a Whole Council Meeting, that the three-tier system would change into a two tier system. A report into the report on the re-organisation with proposals as to which schools would close was published in May 2008. There is also a college on the Isle of Wight and other less formal educational venues.

Eighth grade is the eighth post-kindergarten year of formal education in the US, and is typically the last year of middle school. In England and Wales, the equivalent is Year 9, and in Scotland, the equivalent is S2.

Ninth grade, freshman year, or grade 9 is the ninth year of school education in some school systems. Ninth grade is often the first school year of high school in the United States, or the last year of middle/junior high school. In some countries, Grade 9 is the second year of high school. Students are usually 14–15 years old. In the United States, it is often called Freshman year.

Tenth grade or grade 10 is the tenth year of school post-kindergarten or the tenth year after the first introductory year upon entering compulsory schooling. In many parts of the world, the students are 15/16 years of age, depending on when their birthday occurs. The variants of 10th grade in various countries are described below.

Eleventh grade, junior year, or grade 11 is the eleventh, and for some countries final, grade of secondary schools. Students are typically 16–17 years of age, depending on the country and the students' birthdays.

Twelfth grade, senior year, or grade 12 is the final year of secondary school in most of North America. In other regions, it may also be referred to as class 12 or Year 13. In most countries, students are usually the ages of 17 and 18 years old. Some countries have a thirteenth grade, while other countries do not have a 12th grade/year at all. Twelfth grade is typically the last year of high school.

Education in Norway is mandatory for all children aged 6–16.

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 seven levels of education in its International Standard Classification of Education system. UNESCO's International Bureau of Education maintains a database of country-specific education systems and their stages.

Three-tier education English schooling structure

Three-tier education refers to those structures of schooling, which exist in some parts of England, where pupils are taught in three distinct school types as they progress through the education system.


  1. Leicestershire History: our county, our history
  2. Allen-Kinross, Pippa (2 May 2018). "Middle schools defend themselves as councils ditch three-tier model". Schools Week. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  3. "Upper schools need fairer cash deal, declares expert". Bucks Free Press. 1 November 2002. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  4. Evans, Oliver (25 September 2009). "More poor in upper schools as BFP publishes 11+ tables". Bucks Free Press. Retrieved 23 August 2018.