Secondary education (11 to 16 years)

Secondary education (11 to 16 years)

Secondary education is for students aged 11 to 16. This includes the following school types:

  • Secondary schools
  • Middle schools
  • Upper schools
  • Special schools
  • University technical colleges
Secondary school types and corresponding school years
School type School years covered
Secondary school Years 7 to 11
Middle school Years 5 to 8
Upper school Years 9 to 11
University technical college Years 9 to 11

Qualifications from 14 to 16

GCSEs - General Certificate of Secondary Education

GCSEs are the main qualification students take in Years 10 and 11. Students can take GCSEs in a whole range of subjects. It depends on what's available in individual schools. This includes Maths, English, French and Art to Applied Business, Engineering and Health and Social Care.

GCSEs are two year courses. To find out more about GCSEs, please visit the Bright Knowledge website.


Diplomas combine theoretical study with practical activities. They help students develop the skills that employers and universities look for. They are two year courses and are available in a range of subjects.

To find out more about Diploma Qualifications, please visit the Bright Knowledge website.

Work related courses help students to learn more about a particular area of work. They are usually offered by BTEC or OCR examination boards. They are available in subjects such as Applied Science, Engineering, Business and Performing Arts.

To find out more about BTEC and OCR courses and qualifications go to the Bright Knowledge website.

Students can take these work related courses with their GCSEs.

Specialist industry-led qualifications

University Technical Colleges are for 14 to 19 year olds. They offer a full-time, technically-focused course of study. Some subjects offered are biomedical and environmental science.

Entrepreneurial activities and employer-led projects, as well as specific enterprise-focused events, will be part of the specialist industry-led qualifications.

Students will still be expected to study GCSE courses. But 40% of the course will focus on the industry-led qualification. To find out more, please go to the Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology website.