Secondary Grades

Depending on where you are in the world, secondary education may also be referred to as high education – either way, it is traditionally the second or third stage found in formal education starting at about the age of 12 or 13 until about the age of 17 or 18.

For purposes of this education and reference website, secondary education will refer to the years of grades seven to twelve.

To make searching for information easier, there are two tabs on the top menu bar – Grades 7-9 and Grades 10-12. Each tab has four sub-categories: General Info, Ideas, Links and Videos.

If you are curious about how elementary and secondary education looks in other countries, here are some examples based on a select number of countries:

Britain – The education system consists of four stages: primary school, secondary school, high school and higher education. Children start learning at age five in primary school consisting of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 with no definitive grades, just a range of learning. Students attend secondary school from ages 11-14 where they get graded. The final level of education is high school from students over age 14 who are primarily focusing further education.

Canada – It is a two-tier system with elementary and secondary education in most provinces but might be broken down in several different ways. For instance, in Ontario, most elementary schools are K-8 except for areas where schools are small and the student population has outgrown the available space so junior high schools were created for grades 7 & 8; secondary schools are usually from grades 9-12. On the other side of the country, in Alberta, most elementary schools are from K-6 with junior highs from 7-9 and secondary school from 10-12. To minimize the cost of creating new schools to accommodate the dramatic growth in population, newer elementary schools are now K-9 with the school name referencing elementary – junior high schools as one. Quebec’s education system has primary school starting in grade 1 to 6 and secondary school from grades 7-11.

France – It is divided into three compulsory levels: l’école élémentairele collège, and le lycee. Children of at least six years old begin primary school and it consists of two stages – initial teaching of fundamentals and skill development – with students acquiring skills in reading, writing and math until age 11-12 when they transition to le collège. At this point, they pursue specific subjects and at the end of this stage, they must pass the state exam. The final level of education, le lycee, students choose between two schools – a three-year high school (enabling them to seek further studies in higher education) or a vocational school (preparing students for a specific profession).

Germany – Primary School (Grundschule) starts with students at age six with the main aim of teaching students to master reading, writing and math. After completing the primary level at age 9-10, a recommendation will be given based on their learning and skills. At this point, students can choose further education by going to: Hauptschule with emphasis on preparing for a specific profession, Realschule which is intended mainly for people who are interested in the economy or a specific job or Gymnasium which has a wide range of subjects aiming to prepare students for college education.

Kenya – Primary education begins after the completion of kindergarten (commonly known as nursery school) from ages 5 – 7. The first year of primary school is known as Standard 1 ending with the final year at Standard 8. Students attend secondary school for four years starting with Form 1 and ending in Form 4. Both primary and secondary levels begin in January and end in November with school school vacations (April, August and December).

Mali – Stemming from it’s French occupation, Mali followed a two cycle system since the 1980s. Children aged 7 or 8 went to school for six years before taking the CEP (Certificate de Fin d’etudes du Premier Cycle) exam. The second cycle of education took three years and qualified students to take the exam for the Diploma in Basic Education (or Diplome d’Etudes Fondamentales). As of 2012, the government merged the two cycles so that students aged 7 to 15 are required to attend school but the exams that need to be taken have stayed in place. School lasts from October to June.

Nigeria – Primary education begins at about age 5 for the majority of NIgerians and students spend six years in primary school. However, in 1999, the Universal Basic Education (UBE) was formed and in was provided to enhance the success of the first nine years of school (six years in primary school and three years of junior secondary school). Secondary education consists of three years in Senior Secondary School.

Poland – As of 2017, Poland began an educational reform that has transitioned it to a two-tier system (including the elimination of junior high schools intended for students from ages 12-14) so that it now has primary and secondary education. Primary education stretches from grade 1 to grade 8 with an assessment exam required before moving into the secondary school program that ends in grade 12.

South Africa – Traditionally, education has been divided in primary school (grade 0/R and grades 1-7) and secondary school (grades 8-12). The Department of Basic Education has officially grouped the grades into two “bands” called GET (General Education and Training) and FET (Further Education and Training). The GET ranges from grade 0 plus grades 1 to 9 which subdivided “phases” called the Foundation Phase (grade 0 plus grades 1-3), the Intermediate Phase (grades 4 to 6) and the Senior Phase (grades 7 to 9). The FET includes grades 10-12 (as well as non-higher education vocational training facilities).

Uganda – The system of education has a structure of seven years in primary education and six years of secondary education (four years in lower secondary and two years in upper secondary school).

United States – The education system is typically divided into three tiers: elementary school (K-5), middle school (6-8) and high school (9-12). Students start kindergarten at age 5 (but, since most states require two incomes to survive, there is the possibility of preschools for 3 and 4 year olds or the elementary school might have junior and senior kindergartens so that students can start at age 4). An assessment is done at the end of each grade but they are created by state and there is no federal standard so there is likely little influence on a student’s progress into the next grade. In grade 12, students need to complete the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) in addition to keeping a high GPA (grade point average) throughout high school to have any chance at going to university.