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Table E.1.04. Age range of educational phases (not necessarily involving transfer from one school to another) as reported in International Review of Curriculum and Assessment Frameworks Internet Archive (INCA), by type of education and country: 2010

Country Pre-school Primary/basic Lower secondary Upper secondary
England1 0-5 5-11 11-16 16-18
Ireland2 3-4/5/6 4/5/6-12 12-15 15-16/17/18
Northern Ireland 2-4 4-11 11-16 16-18
Scotland 3-5 5-12 12-16 16-18+
Wales3 3-5 5-11 11-16 16-18
France4 2-6 6-11 11-15 15-18
Germany5 3-6 6-10/12 10/12-15/16 15/16-18/19
Hungary6 3-6 (compulsory at age 5) 6-10/12/14 6-10/12/14 10/12/14-18/19
Italy7 2½-6 6-11 11-14 14-18/19
Netherlands 0-5 5-12 12-15 15-18
Spain 0-6 6-12 12-16 16-18
Sweden8 0-6/7 6/7-15/16 6/7-15/16 15-18/16-19
Switzerland9 4/5-6/7 6/7-10,11,12+ 10,11,12+-15/16 15/16-18/19
Australia 3-5/6 5/6-12/13 12/13-15/16 15/16-18+
Canada 4/5-6/7 6/7-11/12/13 11/12/13-15/16 15/16-17/18+
Japan 3-6 6-12 12-15 15-18
Korea 3-6 6-12 12-15 15-18
New Zealand 3-5/6 5/6-12/13 12/13-16 16-18+
Singapore 3-6/7 6/7-12 12-16/17 16/17-18/19+
South Africa10 0 to 4/5 5/6-12 12-15 15-18
USA11 3-5/6 5/6-13/14 5/6-13/14 13/14-17/18
1 The period of education from birth to the end of the academic year in which a child has his/her fifth birthday is known as the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Compulsory education begins the term after a child reaches the age of 5. However, many children begin school at 4+. There are current plans to raise the compulsory age of leaving education and training to 17 by 2013 and 18 by 2015. Those children entering secondary education (Year 7, age 11) in September 2008 were the first cohort to be expected to remain in (at least part-time) education and training until the age of 17.
2 Although compulsory education does not formally begin until age 6, the majority of 4- and 5-year-old children are in publicly-funded provision in primary school education. At age 15+, students follow either a one-year Transition Year course; three types of two-year Leaving Certificate course; or a three-year course (Transition Year followed by a two-year Leaving Certificate course).
3 The phased introduction of a foundation phase of education for 3- to 7-year-olds began in September 2008. Compulsory education begins the term after a child reaches the age of 5. However, many children begin school at 4+. The introduction of a discrete phase of education for students aged 8 to 14 is planned.
4 Compulsory education ends at age 16. Students must therefore spend at least one year in the upper secondary phase.
5 Primary education ends at age 10 in 14 of the 16 Länder, and at age 12 in the remaining two (Berlin and Brandenberg).
6 Attendance in the kindergarten year, age 5-6, is compulsory. Traditionally, Hungarian secondary education admitted general school leavers aged 14+. It is now increasingly common for secondary schools to admit students aged 10+ or 12+.
7 Primary and lower secondary education forms the first cycle of education in Italy (6- to 14-year-olds). Compulsory education currently ends at 15; students must spend at least one year in the upper secondary phase. Under legislation introduced in 2006, education is to become compulsory until age 16 from the 2009/10 school year. In addition, under plans for vocational/technical schools to be introduced from 2010/11, the first two years of upper secondary phase education (14- to 16-year-olds) in these schools will be dedicated to general education (mathematics, Italian etc). Since September 2009, it has been possible for children to enroll in pre-school from the age of 2 and a half.
8 Compulsory phase education is provided in the all-through compulsory school (grundskola) and usually begins at age 7. Children who start earlier (age 6) may finish earlier (age 15) after nine years’ compulsory education.
9 Starting and leaving ages and the duration of compulsory education vary from canton to canton. The Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education has, however, approved a draft agreement to make these the same across Switzerland. An agreement to 'harmonize' education systems is currently in force in 15 of the 26 cantons, making pre-school education compulsory for two years (4-6) rather than one (5-6).
10 The Reception Year (Grade R) (age 5-6) is not yet compulsory but it is intended that it will be available to all by 2011. Upper secondary provision (15- to 18-year-olds) is not compulsory.
11 Phases vary dependent on the individual state. The INCA Archive reflects the system of eight-year elementary school, followed by four-year high school. Other jurisdictions have a three-year primary school (includes a kindergarten year), four-year intermediate school, three-year junior high school and three-year senior high; others a five-year elementary school, three-year middle school and four-year high school.
NOTE: For those countries with devolved structures (Australia, Canada, Germany, South Africa, Switzerland, and the USA) it is not always possible to provide ‘national’ data. Readers should therefore recognize that the data may refer to specific states or provinces, as examples, and cannot necessarily be taken to reflect a national position.
SOURCE: O'Donnell, S., Sargent, C., Byrne, A., and White, E. (2010). International Review of Curriculum and Assessment Frameworks Internet Archive Comparative Tables. Table 5.2. International Review of Curriculum and Assessment Frameworks Internet Archive.