In the UK, the education system is split into four areas:
- Primary Education
- Secondary Education
- Further Education
- Higher Education
Primary and Secondary education is split into four “Key Stages”:
- Key Stage 1: 5 to 7 years old
- Key Stage 2: 7 to 11 years old
- Key Stage 3: 11 to 14 years old
- Key Stage 4: 14 to 16 years old
Key Stages 1 and 2 are covered in Primary education and Key Stages 3 and 4 are covered in Secondary education.
A student is tested at each Key Stage but the most important of these tests are the GCSE examinations which take place at around age 16.
After the completion of these Key Stages, education is optional. Students have the opportunity to choose between going into Further education or leaving education altogether.
Further education takes place usually when a student is between 16-18 years old. This period is also referred to as ‘Sixth Form’. It is during this period when students study A Levels. Ashbourne is predominately a sixth form college dedicated to the study of A Levels, though GCSE courses are also offered.