Suvarna Garge (Editor)

Secondary school

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Secondary school

A secondary school is one means of delivering education to adolescents in level 2 or junior secondary education, which is considered the second and final phase of basic education, or level 3 (Upper) secondary education phases on the ISCED scale. Every country aims to provide schools for basic education, but the systems and terminology remain unique to them. Secondary schools typically follow on from primary schools. Attendance is compulsory in most countries for students between the ages 11 and 16.



A secondary school, locally may be called high school, junior high school, senior high school. In some countries there is an intermediate educational stage of middle school which takes place between primary school and high school.


In Algeria, secondary school starts after obtaining the BEM (Brevet d'Enseignement Moyen) (Middle School Certificate), and ends by getting the Baccalaureate that exclusively grants access to national universities.


In Nigeria, secondary school starts from JSS1(7th grade) until SSS3(12th grade). Most students start at the age of 10 or 11 and finish at 16 or 17. Students are required to sit for the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE). To progress to university students must obtain at least a credit in Maths, English and three other subjects in WASSCE.


In Somalia, secondary school starts from 9th grade until 12th. Students start it when they are around 14 to 15 years of age and finish at 18. Students are required to study Somali and Arabic, with the option of either English or Italian depending on the type of school. Religion, chemistry, physics, biology, physical education, textile, art, design, and music are also typically available. When secondary school has been completed, students are sent to national training camp before going to either college, or military training. Similar to other institutes around the world, the age of pupils can vary as some students may be required to repeat a previous year if they have not achieved their academic potential, or may be allowed to skip a year if their level of achievement is higher than the grade level.

South Africa

In South Africa, high school begins at grade 8. Students study for five years, at the end of which they write a Matriculation examination.

As of 2008, students sit the National Senior Certificate examinations, which replaced the Senior Certificate and Further Education and Training Certificate. To progress on to university, students must attain a pass in their Home Language, an Additional Language, Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy, and Life Orientation, as well as at least three electives; see further under National Senior Certificate. (The system previously allowed for an examination at the Higher or Standard grade for each subject. Since 2008, this has been discontinued.)

An alternative Matric examination is offered by the Independent Examinations Board (IEB), a body representing various of the private schools in South Africa.

Foreign grade 12 equivalent qualifications are also accepted. Many home educated learners write foreign grade 12 equivalent examinations.


Secondary school starts at Form One (Year 8) and ends at Upper Six (i.e. Sixth Form or Year 13).

Government, missionary and some private high schools offer the ZIMSEC curriculum and conduct ZIMSEC Ordinary Level (Form Four or Year 11) and Advanced Level (Upper Six) examinations.

Most private high schools offer Cambridge International Examinations curriculum and conduct Cambridge IGCSE, and Advanced Level for the same Forms as public high schools respectively.


In Bangladesh, secondary school is called high school from classes 8 to 12. After completing class 10 the students sit for their Secondary School Certificate. They then take admission to college, which is the name for senior secondary consisting of classes 11 and 12. In the Cambridge system, standard 1 to standard 4 is the junior section, standard 5 to 7 is the junior secondary section, and from standard 8 to 10 is the beginning of high school. Students sit for their O Level and A Level Examinations before applying for Universities.


In Brunei, secondary school lasts for five years, beginning in year 7 and ends in year 11, and typically aged 12 to 16. Entry to secondary school is based on Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (PSR) or Primary School Assessment taken at the end of year 6 in primary school. Secondary years are divided into lower secondary and upper secondary. The former takes two years and, under the new education system Sistem Pendidikan Negara Abad ke-21 (translatable as 21st Century National Education System), the major assessment is Student Progress Assessment, replacing the phased out Penilaian Menengah Bawah or Lower Secondary Assessment. Students then proceed to upper secondary, which takes three years and culminates in the sitting of Brunei-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level or simply known as O Level. Students may then continue to the two-year sixth form, where they eventually sit for A Level for admission to bachelor's degree, or proceed to technical and vocational education where they can undertake various certificate and diploma programmes.


In China, the terms "high school" and "senior middle school" (高中) often refer to the senior part of the Chinese secondary education, as opposed to the junior part, which is more commonly known as '(junior) middle school'. Normally, students who have finished six years of primary education will continue three more years of academic study in middle schools as regulated by the Compulsory education law at the age of twelve. This is not compulsory for senior secondary education, where junior graduates may choose to continue a three-year academic education in academic high schools, which will eventually lead to university, or to switch to a vocational course in vocational high schools.

Generally, high school years usually have two semesters, starting in September and February. In some rural areas, operation may subject to agricultural cycles. Number of lessons offered by school on a weekly basis is very subjective, largely depends on the school's resource. In addition to normal lessons, periods for private study and extracurricular activity are provided as well. The academic curriculum consists of math and drivers ed. Some schools may also offer vocational subjects. Generally speaking, Chinese, Mathematics and English are considered to be the three main subjects as they will definitely be examined in Gaokao. In most provinces, students also need to be examined in either natural sciences, which incorporate Physics, Chemistry and Biology, or social sciences, which incorporate Geography, History and ideology & politics.

In Chinese cities, the majority of high school graduates will go onto universities or vocational colleges. Most high schools are evaluated by their academic performance in Gaokao by parents and students.

Rural secondary education has undergone several transformations since 1980, when county-level administrative units closed some schools and took over certain schools run by the people's communes. In 1982 the communes were eliminated. In 1985 educational reform legislation officially placed rural secondary schools under local administration. There was a high dropout rate among rural students in general and among secondary students in particular, largely because of parental attitudes. All students, especially males, were encouraged to attend secondary school if it would lead to entrance to a college or university (still regarded as prestigious) and escape from village life.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, the government provides a twelve-year compulsory education (6-year primary education and 6-year secondary education) to students in the territory. Students are promoted to secondary schools after their graduations from the primary schools. Before the academic year of 2006-2007, the city ran a system under which secondary schools had seven forms (3 junior forms, 2 senior forms and 2 foundation forms). The system was then replaced by the 3-3-4 system, under which Form 7/Upper sixth is eliminated, and universities provide four years of education instead of three. At the end of the senior secondary education, students sit for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination authorized by the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority.


In India, high school is a grade of education from Standards VIII to X. Standards IX and X are also called Secondary School. Usually, students from ages 14 to 17 study in this section. These schools may be affiliated to national boards (like CBSE, ISC, and NIOS) or various state boards. Education is compulsory until age 14. Although most are stand-alone day schools, some popular schools are residential. Traditional second stage in formal education, typically beginning at ages 14–16 and ending at 16–18.

A school where there are standards 11 and 12 (XI and XII) is called Higher Secondary School.


Junior High School, known locally as Sekolah Menengah Pertama or abbreviated as SMP, and the other part which is Senior High School, known locally as Sekolah Menengah Atas and in other terms, Sekolah Menengah Umum which are abbreviated as SMA and SMU respectively. There is also one institution similar to SMA, but they focused on one specific career major which is known as Vocational High School, know locally as Sekolah Menengah Kejuruan or SMK. Unfortunately, citizens of Indonesia are currently looking down on SMK graduates and are not preferable to be attended by students. Junior high school is a must for all citizens of Indonesia. It is managed by the Department of Education in Indonesia and stated in the Indonesian constitution where every citizen has the right to study. Graduate students from SMP and SMA or SMU and SMK are achieving different educational certificates. All the students of Indonesian high schools must pass in the National Examination (or UN, Ujian Nasional that tests 4 subject for middle school and 6 subject for high school) held by BSNP (Badan Standarisasi Nasional Pendidikan), an organization under the Department of Education of Indonesia.


In Iran, "High school" is known in Persian as "Dabirestan"(دبيرستان). It takes 6 years, after primary school (Dabestan)(دبستان). Boys and girls enter high school after primary school at the age of 13. After the second year of high school, students choose their general branch (Mathematics and Physics, Experimental sciences, Social sciences, Arts, etc.). After this 4 years they have to study for a public "multiple question exam" called "Konkoor"(كنكور) that is held simultaneously in all cities every year for those who want to continue to universities.


The Japanese word for a secondary education is kōtōgakkō (高等学校; literally high school), or kōkō (高校) for short. High school in Japan covers grades 10 through 12. Although it is not mandatory, some 94 percent of Japanese people attend high school. The third year of high school in Japan is allotted for students to prepare for college exams known as "juken" (受験). Others may wish to settle for a job instead. High schools in Japan are referred to by MEXT as "upper secondary schools." Most English-language newspapers and sources use the term "high school." Many school boards also use "high school"; for instance the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Board of Education uses "senior high school." Generally, the secondary school students spent most of the time out of the home. Classes commonly end at 3 or 4 p.m. After that the students go for their club activities.


Secondary school in Malaysia is considered as high school. Students attend secondary school in the age of 13 and usually graduate at 17. There is an optional form(Form 6) also known as Pre-University.

The Malay term for schools providing secondary education is sekolah menengah, translated as "secondary school" in English. Students in Form 1 to Form 3 are lower secondary students, while those in Form 4 to Form 6 are upper secondary students. The Malaysian secondary school education follows closely to the education laid out by the British as it is a Commonwealth country. There are two major exams in secondary school: the first is PT3 (Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3), for 3rd Formers, and the second is SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia or Malaysian Certificate of Education), for 5th Formers. (Prior to the introduction of the PT3, 3rd Formers used to take the PMR – Penilaian Menengah Rendah or Lower Secondary Assessment.) The PT3 consists eight compulsory subjects: Malay Language, English Language, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, Living Skills and Islamic Education (for Muslim students only). While for the SPM, there are six compulsory subjects – similar to those taken in PT3, except for Living Skills and Geography (which are elective subjects on the SPM) – and six sections of elective subjects, which include (but are not limited to):

  • Social Science and Religion
  • Information Technology
  • Arts and Health
  • Technical and Vocational
  • Language and Literature
  • Students are then given a choice to continue their studies in local institutes, private institutes or Sixth Form.


    In Pakistan secondary school is called high school from grades 9 to 10. After successful completion of Elementary Education [(Class 1 to 5) Primary + (Class 6 to 8) Middle school education] the students receive Secondary Education. There are two high school systems prevalent there. First is the local matriculation system which is administered by both Federal and Provincial Boards of Education and includes grades 9 and 10 after which pupils may be admitted into college (Intermediate). The second major education board there is the Cambridge International Exams GCE Ordinary Level conducted by the British Council. The Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) arranges the examinations of Intermediate (Class 11 & 12)/ HSSC higher secondary school certificates and Matriculation (Class 9 & 10) secondary school certificates.


    In 2012, the DepEd started to implement the K–12 education system.

    The high school from the former system will now be called junior high school, while senior high school will be the 11th and 12th year of the new educational system. It will serve as a specialized upper secondary education. With the senior high school, students may choose a specialization based on aptitude, interests, and school capacity. The choice of career track will define the content of the subjects a student will take in Grades 11 and 12. Senior high school subjects fall under either the core curriculum or specific tracks.

  • Core curriculum learning areas include languages, literature, communication, mathematics, philosophy, natural sciences, and social sciences
  • Whereas there are three choices that are available to be chosen by the students — or the so-called "specific tracks." These are:
    1. Academic
    2. Technical-vocational-livelihood
    3. Sports and arts
  • The first track, the academic track, includes three strands which are:
    1. Accountancy, Business, and Management (ABM)
    2. Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS)
    3. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
    4. General Academic Strand (GAS)
  • The second track, the technical-vocational-livelihood, specializes in vocational learning. A student can obtain a National Certificate Level II (NC II), provided he or she passes the competency-based assessment of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. This certificate improves employability of graduates in fields like agriculture, electronics, and trade.
  • The third track, the sports and arts, is the track that is responsible for educating senior high school students on the fields of sports and arts.
  • The following table is the summarized version one of which is here.

    The implementation of the revamped high school system under the K to 12 system will be under Phase II and Phase III of the entire program. The summary of the changes are as follows:

  • In the K to 12 program, the science subject is connected and integrated from Grades 7 to 10 with the use of the spiral progression method in teaching. This will also be implemented on Mathematics.
  • Saudi Arabia

    In Saudi Arabia, high school includes grade 10 through 12, covering ages from 15 to 18.


    In Singapore, Singaporeans aged between 13 and 16 are required to attend secondary school after taking the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) at the end of primary education. The examination determines whether the student is ready to leave primary school by passing; places in secondary schools are allocated according to students' performance in the examination. The performance of the examination also determines which track or stream students end up in. The four different tracks or streams are "Special," "Express," "Normal (Academic)," or "Normal (Technical)." Starting 2008, the "Special" stream has merged with the "Express" stream and are now considered one single stream. The Normal Technical, Normal Academic and Express stream students will sit for the GCE 'O' level examinations as a graduation requirement and to gain entry into a high school/technological college (e.g. junior college, polytechnic or institute of technical education).

    South Korea

    In South Korea, students aged between 15 and 19 attend high schools, which are split into a series of "high school grades" based on age, from first grade (age 15-17) to third grade (age 17-19). Some subjects, such as Korean, English and math, are obligatory in high schools, while some other subjects are electives. High schools in South Korea may also have specialty subject tracks. For example, students who wish to follow science, foreign language, physical activity, or art tracks may choose to go to an academic science, foreign language, or other specialty high school (Hangul: 특수목적고등학교; RR: teuksu-mokjeok godeung hakgyo). These high schools are often hard to get into, especially science and foreign language, which creates competition to go to a good high school.

    Academic high schools in South Korea are known to have demanding courses and strict discipline. It is usual in South Korea that academic high schools open before 8:00 am starting with one-hour self-study and end around 11:00 pm due to about 5 additional (mandatory) hours of self-study time (Hangul: 자습). While U.S. President Barack Obama stated that U.S. schools could learn from how South Korean high schools are run, some Koreans hold the high school education in Korea to be too competitive.

    Most Korean students may choose to go to common high school (Hangul: 인문계 고등학교; RR: inmungye godeung hakgyo) ; and other students may choose a vocational high school which emphasizes agriculture, commerce, or technical trade curricula (Hangul: 전문계 고등학교; RR: jeonmungye godeung hakgyo).

    Unlike most developed countries, high schools in South Korea are neither free nor compulsory. However, 97 percent of Korean middle students do have aspirations to attend high school, according to a 2003 OECD study.

    General high schools in South Korea are called godeung hakgyo (고등학교; Hangul).


    The secondary education in Taiwan includes junior high school, senior high school, vocational high school, military school and complete high school. The traditional secondary education institutions were established during the Japanese colonial era (1895–1945). Today, they include many features from the United States.

    After six years in elementary school, the rules typically state that children must enter junior high school, or their parents may be fined. There are three grades in junior high. Children who achieve the third grade can choose to enter senior high school, vocational high school or complete high school. If children want to continue their formal education, they must sit for an exam. Generally speaking, the grade to enter high school and complete high school has three grades. Graduates from senior high school often continue on to university. Vocational high school has three grades as well. Children who complete vocational high school can then enter a technological university. Complete high school is like that of American high schools, in that it has grades seven to grade twelve.

    There are also international schools such as Taipei American School (TAS), Taipei Adventist Preparatory Academy (TAPA), Taipei Adventist American School (TAAS), National Experimental High School (NEHS), Taipei European School (TES), Hshinchu International School (HIS), Morrison Academy (MCA), Morrison Academy Kaohsiung (MAK), and Kaohsiung American School. These schools offer grades from Kindergarten to grade 12. English is instructed for all courses. Since the curriculum concurs with the corresponding country's curriculum, graduates from these international schools generally do not stay in Taiwan for their undergraduate degree.


    The Dutch "secundair onderwijs" as the French "enseignement secondaire" may be translated as "secondary education" and involves students aged from 12 to 18, scheduling between 32 and 40 hours of class a week.

    In Belgium, there are four levels of "secondary education": ASO, TSO, KSO and BSO (Dutch) or ESP, EST, ESA and ESG (French).

  • BSO (Beroepssecundair onderwijs) or ESP (Enseignement Secondaire Professionel) translated as 'profession high school', allows a student to pursue an occupation upon graduation.
  • TSO (technisch secundair onderwijs) or EST (Enseignement Secondaire Technique) translated as 'technical high school' allows a student to pursue an occupation or further education upon graduation.
  • KSO (kunst secundair onderwijs) or ESA (Enseignement Secondaire Artistique) translated as 'art high school' leads to further arts education upon graduation.
  • ASO (algemeen secondair onderwijs) or ESG (Enseignement Secondaire Général) translated as 'general high school' is designed specifically to prepare students for further education upon graduation.
  • Czech Republic

    In the Czech Republic, the term "high school" (střední škola, literally "middle school") can refer to the last four, six or eight years of secondary education. Typically, pupils in the Czech Republic spend 9 years at elementary school before going to high school where they study for 4 more years. However, children can decide to leave elementary school after Grade 5 or, less commonly, Grade 7 to study at a gymnázium (sometimes translated as grammar school), which is considered as a better preparation for tertiary education, for eight or six years respectively.


    After completing nine-year comprehensive school at the age of 15 or 16 (depending on when one is born), one has the chance to go to a vocational school (ammattikoulu) or an upper secondary school (lukio), the latter sometimes translated as "high school" in English. In the vocational school one can study to be an electrician, hairdresser, plumber etc. In upper secondary school students take about 30 courses per year on a variety of different subjects (Maths, Biology, Chemistry, different languages, Psychology, Health Education etc.). Normally they graduate in three years, usually at the age of 18 or 19, after taking the national matriculation exam (ylioppilastutkinto). Typically students continue to university (yliopisto) or University of Applied Sciences (ammattikorkeakoulu), but some decide not to go to any school after secondary school, even though getting a job without a degree can be hard.


    After completing nine-year primary school at the age of 15 or 16 (depending on when one is born), one has the chance to go to a secondary school (Gymnasium). Secondary school is completed in three years at the age of 18 or 19. That is the main and preferred option continuing studies in order to later in life apply for higher education. One has also a chance to go to a vocational school after finishing primary school. There it is possible to study to become a hairdresser, chef, etc.


    See Secondary education in France#Lycée


    In Germany, most states have a tripartite school system consisting of Hauptschule, Realschule, and Gymnasium but with many variants. There is also the Gesamtschule, which is a comprehensive school awarding the same school leaving certificates as Hauptschule, Realschule, and Gymnasium, respectively.

    Hauptschule, which ends at grade 9 (age 14 or 15) with Hauptschulabschluss, and Realschule, which ends at grade 10 (age 15 or 16) with Mittlere Reife, are often followed by vocational education combined with an apprenticeship (dual education system). Gymnasium lasts until grade 12 or 13 (age 17,18 or 19) and leads to the Abitur. This type of school prepares students for studying at university or university of applied sciences.

    In most German states, primary school ends with grade 4 (age 10) but some have grades 5 and 6 (age 11 and 12, respectively). Teachers then issue formal recommendations for which one of the three types of secondary school the students should attend based on academic ability.

    Note that the German word Hochschule, the literal translation of "high school," means college or university, not high school (false friend).


    Secondary education in Greece comprises two stages: Gymnasio (variously translated as Middle or Junior High School), a compulsory three-year school, after which students can attend Lykeion (an academically oriented High School) or Vocational training.


    In Ireland secondary schools go from first year to sixth year, with the typical student age being between 12 and 18. It is split into two cycles, the Junior Cycle – a three-year course with the Junior Certificate taking place at the end of third year and the Senior Cycle – a two to three-year course with the Leaving Certificate taking place at the end of the sixth year. Fourth year, also known as Transition Year, is optional, but is included as part of the senior cycle. The majority of secondary schools no longer allow their students to skip this year . Subjects vary slightly between the two certificates however English, Irish, and Maths are mandatory in both – with the exception of Irish in certain situations. These three subjects are offered at Higher, Ordinary, and Foundation Level (except Leaving Certificate English). Other subjects are only offered at Higher or Ordinary Level with the exception of Junior Certificate subject Civic, Social and Political Education which is Common Level. Education is mandatory up until the age of 16 or until the Junior Certificate has been sat. The majority of secondary schools also require students to wear school uniforms and in some cases a Physical-Education uniform as well. Secondary schools are sometimes called "college," e.g. Davitt College in County Mayo.


    In Italy, education is organized into 3 levels:

  • scuola primaria or primary school (commonly called scuola elementare, age 6 to 11)
  • scuola secondaria di primo grado or lower secondary school (commonly called scuola media, age 11 to 14)
  • scuola secondaria di secondo grado or upper secondary school (commonly called scuola superiore, age 14 to 19).
  • Latvia

    In Latvia, education is organized into 3 levels:

  • sākumskola (literally "beginning school") or primary school, grades 1 to 4;
  • pamatskola (literally "elementary school") or junior secondary school, grades 5 to 9;
  • vidusskola (literally "intermediate school") or senior secondary school, grades 10 to 12.
  • The term augstskola, which literally translates to "high school", refers to an institution of higher education. Education up to grade 9 is mandatory in Latvia.

    Schools themselves are of several types:

  • sākumskola covers grades 1 to 4;
  • pamatskola covers grades 5 to 9, but more often than not would also have a floor or wing for primary school pupils;
  • vidusskola (or licejs, liceum) covers grades 10 to 12, but most of them cover grades 1 to 12, with a separate floor or wing for primary school pupils;
  • ģimnāzija (gymnasium) covers grades 7 to 12.
  • Lithuania

    In Lithuanian education system, aukštoji mokykla, which is a literal translation of "high school", actually refers to a college or a university, but not an institution that provides secondary education. Thus, universitetas (university) and kolegija (college) are both covered by the umbrella term aukštoji mokykla.

    Secondary education is provided by institutions that are approved by the government for this type of education. There are three types of these institutions:

  • pradinė mokykla (elementary school) - covers ages 7 to 10 (grades 1 to 4)
  • pagrindinė mokykla (the general school) – covers ages 7 to 16 (grades 1 to 10)
  • progimnazija (progymnasium) – covers ages 7 to 14 (grades 1 to 8)
  • gimnazija, licėjus (gymnasium, lyceum) – covers ages 15 to 18 (grades 9 to 12)
  • vidurinė mokykla (secondary school) – covers ages 7 to 18 (grades 1 to 12)
  • Pagrindinė mokykla provides only an incomplete secondary education as it is not sufficient if one wants to start studies at a university. People who want to continue their education to obtain the full secondary education diploma, which would allow them to join a university upon completing the pagrindinė mokykla, must either enter a gymnasium, lyceum, or a vidurinė mokykla.

    A vidurinė mokykla is the most universal type of these institutions as it offers all levels of pre-college education, starting from elementary level up to the secondary level.


    In Malta, secondary schools are also called Junior Lyceums, compulsory education is organized in 2 levels:

  • Primary schools (year 1–6, age 6 to 11)
  • Secondary schools (form 1–5, age 11 to 16)
  • At the end of form 5, a student has the option to sit O-levels. Success opens the option to spend two years in 6th form, where a student may sit A-levels and Intermediates. A-levels are more difficult than Intermediates but both are needed to advance to the next level of education, which is university.


    In Moldova education is organized in 3 levels:

  • primary school (1st to 4th grade, age 6 to 11)
  • lower secondary school (5th to 9th grade, age 10 to 16)
  • upper secondary school (10th to 12th grade, age 15 to 19).
  • The Netherlands

    In the Netherlands, there are four levels of secondary school: "Praktijkonderwijs," VMBO, HAVO, and VWO.

  • "Praktijkonderwijs" (which roughly translates to "practical education"), this is only intended for students who are otherwise incapable of VMBO. Compulsory until the student reaches 18 years of age.
  • VMBO (Voorbereidend Middelbaar Beroepsonderwijs, which roughly translates to 'preparatory career education"). Students are aged 12 to 16, and it is compulsory for students who complete VMBO to continue to MBO.
  • HAVO (Hoger Algemeen Voortgezet Onderwijs), roughly translated as "higher general continued education." Students are aged 12 to 17. Prepares students for higher career education (HBO).
  • VWO (Voorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs), meaning "preparatory scientific education", is the secondary education form after which students are free to continue studying at university level or HBO level. Students are aged 12 to 18.
  • Poland

    Upper secondary education begins at the end of full-time compulsory education, preparing students for entry directly into the labour-market and/or tertiary (i.e. higher) education. Upper secondary education takes many forms.

    General education can be pursued in general secondary schools (liceum): after 3 years, students can pass the "Matura", which grants access to higher education. Vocational and technical education is mainly provided by Technical schools (technikum) and/or basic vocational schools (zasadnicza szkoła zawodowa). Technical schools last 4 years and lead to the Matura. Their primary goal is to teach occupations and trades, the most popular being: accountant, mechanic, electronics specialist, and salesperson. Basic vocational schools also provide a vocational education lasting 2 years and grant a certificate of competence in various fields, the most popular being: shop-assistant, cook, gardener, automobile mechanic, hairdresser and baker. Graduates from basic vocational schools can pass the Matura after an extra-curriculum of 2 years in a general secondary school, or, since 2004, of 3 years in a Technical school. Profiled general secondary schools (liceum profilowane) provide a vocational education in 3 years, but only in fields described by the Polish Classification of Activities (PKD). In addition, mentally and/or physically handicapped students can join special schools (szkoła specjalna) which prepare to the Matura in 3 years.


    In Romania, secondary school is commonly referred to as liceu (lyceum in English). The students usually enter the lyceum at the age of 14 or 15, and graduate when they're 18 or 19. In order to graduate and get a baccalaureate diploma, they must pass the BAC exam, and they must have fulfilled the four years (9–12) of post-secondary education. The secondary school diploma is enough to get a job in various domains.


    In Spain, after Elementary school, there is secondary school, which are grades 7 to 10. They are called 1º de la ESO, 2º de la ESO, 3º de la ESO and 4º de la ESO. ESO stands for "Educación Secundaria Obligatoria", which would be translated as Obligatory Secondary Education. What they call high school in Spain would be the "Bachillerato", which are grades 11 and 12. In these two grades there are common subjects to all the students, and the elective subjects which vary depending on the career you want to study in the university. The education is more specialized in different areas: there are the pure sciences, in which you take physics, chemistry and biology (for science careers). You can also choose technological sciences, in which the elective subjects are physics, chemistry, and technical drawing (for engineering careers and architecture and design), there is also social sciences, which involve subjects such as economics, history and geography. The fourth modality is humanities, specialized in languages (philology careers), and the elective subjects are Greek and Latin. Lastly, you can choose arts, of which there are three different types, depending on the art: dancing, drawing, and drama.


    Secondary education in Sweden is divided into two stages, with grades 7–9, the three final years of compulsory education, called högstadiet ("the higher stage"), followed by three years of senior secondary education called gymnasiet. The Swedish gymnasieskola, upper secondary school, is voluntary, though 99 percent of all students attend; it provides preparatory and vocational programmes, with a large majority attending the preparatory programmes.

    England and Wales

    In England and Wales, secondary school is for students typically aged 12 to 16 or 18. Secondary school incorporates KS3 and KS4 of the National Curriculum Year 7 to Year 11. After Year 11 they may leave school but must stay in some form of education until they are in the equivalent of Year 13/Upper 6th. This could involve doing A-Levels or BTECS at a 6th form college, vocational diplomas at college or an apprenticeship. The last year group that could leave compulsory education after Year 11 was the Year 11 class of 2012. (Started Reception/Foundation Year in 2000.)

    Some of the country, including the Isle of Wight, Northumberland and parts of southern England and the Midlands, chooses a three-tier system, with the addition of a "middle" or "junior" (Years 5–8) school. In these areas, secondary schools are often referred to as "high schools" to avoid confusion as they are not the "second" school. The term "tertiary" is never used to describe secondary or high schools in such areas.


    The "Core Curriculum" is the compulsory secondary curriculum for Key Stage 3 and 4 years/Forms 7–11/1–5.

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science (This may be taught as three separate sciences: Biology, Chemistry and Physics)
  • Modern Foreign Language is now compulsory for Key Stage 3 children. Common languages include French, German, Spanish, or Italian
  • GCSEs must be taken in English, Maths and Science.

    Also compulsory until Year 11/ Form 5 are:

  • Personal Social Health Education (P.S.H.E)/Citizenship
  • Religious Studies (R.S.) or Religious Education (R.E.) (In some schools)
  • Physical Education (P.E.)
  • Sex Education (S.E.) (compulsory for Year 7 but optional for years 8–11. No GCSE available. This is usually taught to year 9 in areas of high teenage pregnancy). This may be taught as part of P.S.H.E. and Biology.
  • Examinations in these subjects are not compulsory, but a full or short-course GCSE may be sat if the student wishes. In some schools (mainly independent schools or high-achieving selective state secondaries) examinations in some of these subjects are school policy.

    'Key Stage 3' Year 7-9/ Form 1–3 Curriculum

    The "Core Curriculum" plus the other Key Foundation subjects

  • Art and Design
  • Design and Technology
  • Drama
  • Geography
  • History
  • Other MFLs (Polish, Welsh (the school will decide, if at all))
  • Music
  • Scotland

    As the term "High School" originated in Edinburgh, Scotland, this is the most common phrase used when referring to the second tier of education in the country. Scotland has a long history of universal provision of public education, and the Scottish education system is distinctly different from the other countries of the United Kingdom. The Scotland Act 1998 gives Scottish Parliament legislative control over all education matters, and the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 is the principal legislation governing education in Scotland.

    Traditionally, the Scottish system at secondary school level has emphasized breadth across a range of subjects, while the English, Welsh and Northern Irish systems have emphasised greater depth of education over a smaller range of subjects. Secondary schools in Scotland typically have six years, 1st to 6th, with pupils able to leave school from 4th year if they are 16 before a set date. Pupils generally go into 1st year aged 11 or 12, and leave after 6th year aged 17 or 18. In certain independent schools, there is a transitus year for pupils around 10 or 11 between primary and secondary education.

    The majority of state schools are non-denominational, but as a result of the Education Act 1918, separate denominational state schools were also established. The vast majority of denominational state schools are Roman Catholic but there are also a number of Scottish Episcopal schools. The school buildings are built and maintained by the Roman Catholic Church were handed over to the state under the Education Act. Since then, the Catholic schools are fully funded by the Scottish Government and administered by the Learning Directorate. As part of the deal, there are specific legal provisions to ensure the promotion of a Catholic ethos in such schools: applicants for positions in the areas of Religious Education, Guidance or Senior Management must be approved by the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, which also appoints a chaplain to each of its schools.

    Qualifications at the secondary school and post-secondary (further education) level are provided by the Scottish Qualifications Authority, which is the national awarding and accrediting body in Scotland, and delivered through various schools, colleges and other centres. Political responsibility for education at all levels is vested in the [Scottish Parliament] and the Learning Directorate.


    Secondary education in Argentina comprises two levels, resulting in a length of 12 years together with primary school. Both are compulsory. Years 1st to 3rd are common to all schools (Ciclo Básico). Years 4th to 6th are organized in orientations (Ciclo Orientado) such as Accounting, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, Arts, Sport, Design, among others. An additional year is offered in certain schools (Technical-Professional schools), which grants a professional title, also with orientations (agriculture, electricity, mechanics, construction).


    The Ministry of Education of Brazil defines Ensino Básico ("basic education") as Ensino Infantil ("primary education"), Ensino Fundamental ("secondary school"), and Ensino Médio ("high school"). In this context, secondary school comprises grades 2-9 and students from 6 to 14 years old (at least). The term used to refer to the second half of what it now defines, in addition to high school. In the context of public education, secondary schools are provided by either the municipal or state governments for all citizens. The duration of the entire basic education curriculum is at least 17 years, encompassing seven fields of knowledge: Portuguese language, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, arts, gymnastics, and religious studies.

    Secondary school in Brazil aims to prepare students for high school and ultimately for the entrance exam to universities (private or public) called "Vestibular". Every year, students can apply for ENEM – Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio (National High School Exam). The grade obtained in this exam is often used as a part of the Vestibular process. The Federal Government of Brazil offers full (100 percent) or partial (50 percent) scholarships at private colleges for students sufficiently well graded in ENEM coming from public high schools in PROUNI – Programa Universidade para Todos (University for Everyone Program).


    In Canada secondary schools (also known as High schools) are educational institutions consisting most commonly of students enrolled in grades ten through twelve (ages fifteen to eighteen). Four provinces' high schools consist of grades nine to twelve, and in Quebec, high school years are Secondary 1 through to Secondary 5 (grades 7–11). Variations and subdivisions of these structures are fairly common. The majority of high schools in Canada schedule classes running from late August or early September to mid or late June with a summer break during July and August.

    Canadian high schools offer many extracurricular activities, including athletics. The most popular sports in Canadian high schools are ice hockey, rugby, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, football, baseball, basketball, track and field athletics, and volleyball. Grad, also known as "senior prom" or "formal", is a very popular activity amongst graduating students. Many non-sporting extra-curricular activities are offered in Canadian high schools, including drama, student newspaper club, yearbook club, and computer club.


    Secondary education is called educacion media in Spanish. Teens attend from age 14 to 18 years, and it is mandatory. Secondary education is divided into four grades.

    1. Primero Medio (First Grade of secondary education) 14–15 years old
    2. Segundo Medio (Second Grade of secondary education) 15 – 16 years old
    3. Tercero Medio (Third Grade of secondary education) 16 – 17 years old
    4. Cuarto Medio (Fourth Grade of secondary education) 17 – 18 years old

    There are also two types of secondary education: scientific-humanist, which is oriented to mathematical/science and humanist topics, and professional technician which can be oriented to commercial, agricultural or industrial fields of specialization for the development of technicians (some schools may be polytechnicals, meaning than more than just one field can be chosen).

    The first two grades of both types of secondary education have the same topics. In 3rd grade, students in scientific-humanist education can choose from a scientific specialization, humanist specialization or in some institutions a third specialization branch, which is artistic. Professional technicians also in 3rd grade can choose their area of specialization in the field they have chosen.

    At the end of secondary school, students are granted with a diploma called Licencia de Educacion Media (Secondary Education License) and in the case of the professional technician, a diploma called Secondary Level Technician.

    The mandatory subjects on the study plan for secondary school are:

  • Language and Communication (Spanish Grammar, Ortography and literature and communication principles)
  • Mathematics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • History, Geography and Social Sciences
  • English
  • Physical Education (Physical Exercise)
  • Visual Arts or Music Arts
  • Technological Education (First 2 grades)
  • Psychology (3rd grade)
  • Philosophy (4th grade)
  • Classes begin in March, are two semesters long and end in December, but private schools or colleges can start on another date.

    In July given the winter holidays of two weeks or one and a half, in January begins summer vacation until the beginning of March.


    In Mexico, "secondary school" refers to educational institutions usually consisting of students enrolled in grades 7 through 12 (ages 12 to 18 years old). Some schools require an entrance exam. Known as secundarias, these schools are the equivalent of junior high schools. From the secundaria, students may be tracked into vocational schools known as escuelas técnicas, CBTIs or CETIs or into Escuelas Preparatorias what provide a traditional lyceum or gymnasium education similar to American high schools. Private, denominational secundarias are known as colegios. In rural regions, telesecundaria is offered via online and television formats. Less than 70 percent of the population completes middle school in Mexico.

    Preparatoria traditionally consists of three years of education, divided into six semesters, with the first four semesters having a common curriculum, and the latter ones allowing some degree of specialization, either in physical sciences (electricity, chemistry, biology) or social sciences (commerce, philosophy, law).

    The term preparatoria is most commonly used for institutions that offer a three-year educational program that "prepares" the student with general knowledge to continue studying at a university. In contrast, the term bachillerato is most often used for institutions that provide vocational training, either in two or three years, so the graduate can get a job as a skilled worker, for example, an assistant accountant, a secretary or an electronics technician.


    Secondary and fourth education is divided in basic secondary (grades 6 to 9) and mid secondary (grades 10 and 11). The mid-secondary education (usually beginning at the age of 15 or 16) offers many different "tracks", which all lead to their own "Bachiller" after a curriculum of two years. Out of the usual academic curriculum (Bachillerato Académico), the students can follow one of the following technical tracks (Bachillerato en Tecnología o Applicado): industrial track (Bachillerato Industrial), commercial track (Bachillerato Commercial), pedagogical track (Bachillerato Pedagogico), agricultural Track (Bachillerato Agropecuario), or social promotion track (bachillerato de Promocion Social).

    The "Bachiller" is required to continue into academic or professional higher education. Nonetheless, technical and professional institutions of higher Education can also welcome students with a "qualification in arts and business". This qualification is granted by the SENA after a two years curriculum.


    High schools in Cuba are generically known as "preuniversitarios", but they also have other names depending on their specialization: IPVCE (Spanish abbreviation of Preuniversitary Institute of Exact Sciences), IPUEC (abbreviation of Institute Preuniversitary on the Country-Side), EVA (Arts Vocational School) and ESPA (sports) are amongst the most popular. All of them are secular institutions financed and run by the state, and provide education from 10th grade till 12th grade.


    In Venezuela "secondary schools" are educational institutions teaching grades 7 to 11 (ages 12 to 16 years). Classes begin in September, are 3 terms, and end in July. In Venezuela secondary education is called "bachillerato". It is divide into two, middle education, from grades 7 to 9, and diversified education or high school, covering grades 10 and 11.

    United States of America

    In the United States, the term 'secondary school' can refer to several types of schools. The first type is a traditional, comprehensive high school, comprising grades 9–12. Another type is alternative schools, including continuation schools, which serve those same grades. In some jurisdictions, 'secondary school' may refer to an institution that houses grades 7–12. The term 'secondary school' also categorically includes both middle school and high school. This page lists many secondary schools in the United States.

    As a practical matter, while laws in most states mandate school attendance at least until age 16, many require attendance until age 17 or 18 (unless the student earns a diploma earlier, usually around age 16). State laws vary on the cut-off age for students to receive free public education services. Students can stay in high school past the age of 18 up to the maximum age limit to which free education must be offered in their state. Many states also have adult high schools for people around 18 and over. According to the National Center for Education Statistics 81 percent of students graduated high school on time (within four years after having entered high school as freshmen) between 2012 and 2013. A high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate is usually required for entrance into a two or four-year college or university and to other post-secondary education programs.

    High schools can usually be sub-classed as general high schools, vocational schools (VoTech schools), magnet schools, and college preparatory high schools (prep schools) and special high schools or alternative high schools. Most high schools are general high schools. These general population schools offer college preparatory classes for advanced students, general education classes for average students, and remedial courses for those who are struggling.

    In some school districts exceptionally high-performing students are offered enrollment at a district college preparatory high school. Traditionally "prep schools" in North America were usually private institutions, though most medium or large public (state) school districts now offer university-preparatory schools for advanced students. Public prep schools draw the top students from their district and have strict entrance requirements. All academic classes offered in these schools are classified as honors, International Baccalaureate, or Advanced Placement.

    In larger school districts, magnet schools are established to provide enhanced curriculum for one or more areas of study. Magnet schools may be created for a variety of topics such as mathematics, science, fine arts, and music. Admission (usually controlled) to magnet schools varies by school district in order to manage demand and resources. The school admission process may range from competitive admission standards to a lottery system.

    Vocational high schools offer hands-on training to students that prepares them for careers in fields such as information technology, marketing, business, engineering and the medical professions. While some graduates of vocational or career and technical education high schools will go directly into a trade, others will pursue post-secondary education. The Association for Career and Technical Education is the largest national education association dedicated to career and technical education.

    Special high schools cater for students who have special educational needs, e.g. because of learning difficulties or physical disabilities. Some special high schools are offered for students who have major disciplinary or mental health difficulties that make it problematic to educate them in traditional high school settings. Some special high schools are assigned as security risks, where the school houses students who are not yet old enough to legally leave school and are considered a danger to other students or teachers, but have not been convicted of a crime. Some special high schools are dedicated to students with drug or mental health difficulties and have medical and psychological staff on site. A few of these schools include a nursery and a child care staff so that teen parents can finish their education without having to find child care during the school day. Special high schools have their own campus, but sometimes are located in a section or wing of a general high school.

    Another recent form of high school that has emerged is the online high school. According to the United States Department of Education Students in an online high school performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional instruction.

    A number of American high schools now offer educational programs centered around travel, global citizenship, and the pedagogical concept of place-based learning. Some of these schools, like Think Global School and The Traveling School, do not rely on a single brick-and-mortar campus, instead using the world as their classroom by traveling to and living and learning in multiple countries each year. Other schools, like United World Colleges and Avenues, offer campuses in a number of different geographical locations that their students can study at.

    High school in the United States usually begins in late August or early September of each year and ends in late May or early June. During the excess two and a half months, the students are given summer vacation. This is a hold-over from the time when children were needed on farms for planting and harvesting crops. In some cases schools use a year-round schedule.

  • 9th Grade – Freshman Year, starting at 14 to 15 years of age.
  • 10th Grade – Sophomore Year, starting at 15 to 16 years of age.
  • 11th Grade – Junior Year, starting at 16 to 17 years of age.
  • 12th Grade – Senior Year, starting at 17 to 18 years of age.
  • Australia

    In Australia, secondary school is called high school, from Year 7 to Year 12 in every state except South Australia, where high school is started in Year 8. In both Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, high school constitutes Years 7 to 10 with college (senior secondary) consisting of Year 11 and 12.

    The later years of high school are often known as senior school (as opposed to junior school) where students prepare for school leaving exams such as the Higher School Certificate (HSC) in New South Wales, Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) in Victoria and similar names in other states.

    A student's first examination marks in New South Wales and a combination of examination marks and coursework in other states (except Queensland) are indexed into the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). This index is usually the sole factor considered when applying for university courses. The ATAR was only introduced in 2009 (in NSW), and previously each state calculated its own final high school rank, such as the Universities Admission Index (UAI) in NSW and Equivalent National Tertiary Entrance Rank (ENTER) in Victoria.

    Victorian students also have an opportunity to complete a high-school qualification under the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning, which gives students practical experience in a trade or workplace. This requirement leads students into a trade or TAFE course.

    New Zealand

    In New Zealand, secondary school is often called college or high school (not to be confused with the term for tertiary education in other countries.) The majority of secondary schools run from Year 9 to Year 13 (formerly known as Forms 3 to 7) with students aged 12 to 18; in some areas, including Invercargill and most of the Southland Region, secondary school starts at Year 7 (formerly Form 1) with students aged from 10.

    The current and most common qualification system implemented throughout New Zealand's secondary schools is the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). NCEA 'standards' or tests/assignments begin usually with NCEA Level 1 in Year 11 (previously 5th form) and continue through to NCEA Level 2 at Year 12 (previously 6th form) and NCEA Level 3 at Year 13 (previously 7th form). Some assignments/tests are completed as early as Year 9 or 10, depending on the school and individual students. Some schools are also choosing to use IGCSE, as well as or instead of NCEA.

    High school students in New Zealand are taught a range of subjects. In year 9, the compulsory subjects are Mathematics, English, Physical Education, Social Studies, Science, and in some cases Māori (being the official language of some schools; such as Ngā Taiatea Wharekura.) as well as optional classes, such as Technologies (e.g. Woodworking), Dance, Drama, Art, Graphics, Music, and a choice of languages. Common language options include Māori, Spanish, French, German and Japanese, depending on the geographic location of the school and availability of teachers able to teach the respective subjects.

    It is common for students in New Zealand to wear uniforms. Uniform styles vary widely between schools and are generally more casual compared to the more 'formal' uniforms worn in Australia's equivalent schools.


    Secondary school Wikipedia

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