A primary school (from French école primaire) is an institution where children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as primary or elementary education. Primary school is the preferred term in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth Nations, and in most publications of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In some countries, and especially in North America, the term elementary school is preferred. Children generally attend primary school from around the age of four or five until the age of eleven or twelve.
In the UK schools providing primary education in the state sector are known as primary schools. They generally cater for children aged from four to eleven. Primary schools are often subdivided into infant schools for children from four to seven and junior schools for ages seven to 11 (Excluding Scotland, where all from age 5-12 are catered for in the one institution.)
In the private sector fee-paying schools which provide primary education are known as preparatory schools, and they often cater for children up to the age of thirteen. As their name suggests, preparatory schools are designed to prepare pupils for entrance examinations for fee-paying independent schools.
In the United States, the term primary school is used in a general way to describe a school housing the primary grades, usually meaning kindergarten (ages five to six) to fifth or sixth grade (ages 10 to 11), though this is more commonly referred to as an elementary school. Very few schools in the US actually use the term primary school as part of their school name and such schools are generally private schools, serving very young children.
In Malaysia, the first six years of education take place in primary schools. A standardized test is given to all national primary school students at their final year, before proceeding to five years of secondary education.