The UK School System | Achieve Education
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The UK School System

We support a large portfolio of loyal schools in London and the surrounding areas. The British school system allows for a broad range of teaching styles and techniques in a wide spectrum of school environments, from challenging inner-city schools to leafy, affluent schools in suburban areas. High expectations and standards are driving the success of our schools and London is probably the most innovative and exciting place to teach anywhere in the UK.

Types of Schools in the UK

Community Schools: These schools are entirely funded by the Government.

Grammar Schools: Whilst funded by the Government, students must complete entrance exams to be considered for admission.

Voluntary Aided Schools: Religious in ethos, they set their own admissions procedures. They work with local governments but are independent in practice. There are no fees for these schools.

Independent Schools: ‘Private’ schools – funded through tuition fees paid by parents.

Academies: These schools are independent and can create their own curriculum.

The British National Curriculum is taught in all ‘state’ schools, as well as in some private schools.  The curriculum comprises of a number of subjects, with its core areas being English (Language Arts), mathematics (math) and science. Other subjects taught include; design & technology, computing, history, geography, art & design, music, physical education, religious education, and modern foreign languages. 

For more information on the national curriculum please go to to find planning ideas and for some further useful resources.

Curriculum Key Stages

The school system in the UK categorizes age groups as ‘Key Stages’. Below is a breakdown of the different stages in primary and secondary schools.


EYFS: Ages 3-5 (Reception)
KS1: Ages 5-7 (Year 1 & Year 2)
KS2: Ages 7-11 (Year 3, Year 4, Year 5 & Year 6)


EYFS: Ages 3-5 (Reception)
KS1: Ages 5-7 (Year 1 & Year 2)
KS2: Ages 7-11 (Year 3, Year 4, Year 5 & Year 6)


KS3: Ages 11-14 (Year 7, Year 8 & Year 9)
KS4: Ages 14-16 (Year 10 & Year 11)
KS5: Ages 16-18 (Year 12 & Year 13)

A Typical School Day

The school day for the students generally begins at 8.45 am and ends at 3.45 pm with a lunch break for an hour at midday. As a substitute teacher, you will be expected to be present in school by 8.15 a.m. This gives you a chance to sign in and to familiarise yourself with the school. This will also give you plenty of time to set up the classroom, to consult the absent teacher’s planning and to deal with any other duties that could be assigned to you, such as playground supervision before school starts. 

The Academic Year

Term 1:

September – December
One week’s holiday in October & two weeks in December for Christmas.

Term 2:

January – April
One week’s holiday in February & two weeks in April for Easter.

Term 3:

April – July
One week’s holiday in May & six weeks from July for Summer break.

No half term teaching period is ever more than 8 weeks long without a break, so you will have plenty of opportunities and time to travel around the UK or Europe, should you wish to in the holidays.