In the UK, there are a vast range of different qualifications that you can get, from BTECs to HNCs to foundation degrees to apprenticeships. With so many different options, the different levels of these qualifications can easily get confused, and it can be hard to remember which one is which. To make it easier to keep track of these stages, knowing how many there are in the UK and what they range from can come in handy.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there is a total of 9 qualification levels. These 9 levels range from entry level qualifications to level 8 qualifications, which are the equivalent of a doctorate degree. In Scotland, there is a total of 12 qualification levels. These 12 levels are simply from level 1 to level 12. A level 12 qualification in Scotland is also equivalent to a level 8 qualification in the rest of the UK so it is also equivalent to a doctorate degree, such as a PhD.
In this article, we will be further discussing the qualification levels, along with the stages of education within the UK. You should continue reading to find out.
How many qualification levels are there in the UK?
How you answer how many qualification levels there are in the UK will depend on where you live. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there are 9 levels.
These range from entry level to level 8 qualifications. For more information about these qualification levels, check out this governmental guide.
However, in Scotland, there are 12 qualification levels. These range from level 1 to level 12. For more information about the Scottish qualification levels, check out this guide by the SCQF.
What are the stages of education in the UK?
Early years education, also known as Nursery, is used to prepare students for the idea of full-time education and the concept of learning for the rest of their educational lives. This is the main idea across all the nations.
Primary education is from the ages of 4 to 11. In England and Wales, this is Early Years or Reception to Year 6. In Northern Ireland, this is from Year 1 to Year 7.
During primary school, English students complete a series of exams called Standard Assessment Tests or SATs. This is sometimes in Year 2, but always in Year 6. To find out more about SATs, you can click on this link to a Think Student article.
Secondary education lasts from Year 7 to Year 11 in England and Wales and Year 8 to 12 in Northern Ireland.
At the end of secondary school, students will take GCSE qualifications in different subjects in England, Northern Ireland, and Wales. These are level 2 qualifications. For more information on GCSEs, you can click on this link to another Think Student article.
After this, students can go onto further education, which they can do this from the age of 16 onwards. While students typically study level 3 qualifications, such as A-Levels, BTEC Nationals or even T-Levels, they are free to study any qualification from entry level to level 3 for it to be considered further education.
For more information about further education, clicking on this link to a Think Student article will help you.
Finally, is higher education. This happens after further education from levels 4-8. This is usually done at university with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.
However, it can take the form of other types of qualification like apprenticeships. To find out more about higher education, you can check out this article by Think Student.
Once again, to find a full guide on all of the UKs education system, you can click on this link to a Think Student guide.
What are the stages of education in Scotland?
While it still runs from roughly the same age, primary schools in Scotland are from P1 to P7. This is quite similar to how Northern Ireland has Year 1 to Year 7 at primary school as P1 or Year 1 is the same as Reception or Early Years in England and Wales.
Secondary schools in Scotland are once again similar ages to the rest of the UK. However, the years are named entirely differently being from S1 to S4.
At the end of S4, students take National qualifications. Typically, students will take National 5s, which are a level 5 qualification in Scotland and roughly equivalent to GCSEs.
After finishing secondary school, students can go onto further education in the same way as the rest of the UK. In Scotland, S5 and S6 students, which is equivalent to Year 12 and 13 in England and Wales, will often study Highers at level 6 or Advanced Highers at level 7.
Once again, students are free to study anything up to this level as part of further education. For more on these levels, please refer to this guide by the SCQF.
In Scotland, higher education is from levels 7-12. This is very similar to the rest of the UK with level 7 being roughly equivalent to level 4 and level 12 being equal to level 8.
For more information about how the Scottish levels compare to the rest of the UK, check out this guide by SQA. For more about the stages of education in Scotland, check out this Think Student article.
In this article, we have discussed the education stages and qualification levels, along with other key terms across the nation of the UK, like ’years’ and key stages. Once again, to find a full, in-depth guide on the whole UK education system, you should click on this link to the Think Student guide. For other information, you should also refer to the links within this article.