Secondary school

Secondary school is a term used to describe an educational institution where the final stage of compulsory schooling, known as secondary education, takes place. It follows on from primary or elementary education.

There are many different types of secondary school, and the terminology used varies around the world. Children usually transfer to secondary school between the ages of 11-14 years, and finish between the ages of 16-18 years, though there is considerable variation from country to country.

In North America, although typically referring to high school (freshman through senior year) in the United States, the term secondary school may refer to grades 7 to 12, which includes junior high school as well as high school. In Ontario and British Columbia, secondary school is synonymous with high school and refers only to grades 9 to 12.

In England and Wales, secondary school is for children from the ages of 11 to 16 or 18. Secondary school incorporates Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 of the National Curriculum (or years 7 to Year 11 ) and can also include sixth form. After 16, compulsory education ends, and young people can decide whether to continue their studies further, either at school or sixth form college, or enter the world of work.


The names used to describe the institutions used for secondary education vary from country to country. Sometimes, the same terminology is used in different countries but with very different meanings.

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