Education in Britain is compulsory and free for all children between the ages of 5-16. About 93 percent of all children are educated in state schools and the rest attend private schools.
Schoolchildren attend a primary school for 6 years (5 to 11 years). When students transfer to Secondary School at the age of 11, they do not take any examination, but their reports are sent on from the Primary School.
Most children – over 80 percent – go to a comprehensive school. "Comprehensive" means all-inclusive. They admit pupils of all abilities. Pupils in all state in schools in England and Wales study 10 main subjects, among them: English, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, Art, Music, Physical Education, Information Technology. Religious education is also taught. Attainment tests are given at the ages of 7, 11 and 14.
At the age of 16 students sit the exams in as many subjects as possible. Weak students may only sit for three or four subjects. Better students take ten subjects. At the age of 16 about two thirds of these pupils leave school and get jobs. About one-third stay on at school until the age of 18, preparing themselves for higher education.
More ambitious pupils continue to study in the 6th form. They stay on at school for one or two years to prepare themselves for university. They have only three or four main subjects, which are necessary to pass the advanced level exams at the age of 18. The school year is divided into three terms with the intervals between them during Christmas and Easter holidays lasting about two weeks each and summer holiday which is usually six weeks long. All kinds of out-of-class activities are part of school life in Britain. Most schools have very good libraries which students use for reference work.