UK Education System

What is the DfE?

The Department for Education (DfE) is the central government office that is responsible for the education system in England.

In the UK, education is compulsory from the ages of 5-16 inclusive.

What is a Key Stage?

All schools must follow a National Curriculum which is divided into Key Stages:

Key Stage 

Year Groups

Age of Children



1, 2 5 – 7



3, 4, 5, 6 7- 11



7, 8, 9 11-14



10, 11 14 – 16



12, 13 16- 18

At the end of KS (Key stage) 1 and 2 all students take Standard Assessment Tests (SATS) in the core subjects of English, Mathematics and Science. Visit Sats Guide for more information.

At the end of KS4 pupils sit GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) examinations in a variety of subjects. There are also some vocational qualifications which can be gained at this stage.

At the end of Year 12 the students take AS (Advanced Subsidiary) level examinations followed by A (Advanced) level examinations at the end of Year 13. This is the most common form of entry into university and other further education courses.

UK Educational Resources

There are a number of sites which provide free lesson plans, worksheets and other ideas and resources. Here are three of them to get you started:

Another excellent site for a wide range of information is DfE SEN and disability

SEN is a broad area that that covers a wide range of special educational needs. A full glossary of terms and their definitions can be found at: Dfe SEN Terminology