Iducation in England is compulsory for children between the ages of 5 and 16. Most children attend government-run schools, known as state schools. The educational system varies from county to county and sometimes from school to school. There are three terms: September to December, January to Easter, and Easter to July.

 In general, children start school on the first day of term after they turn 5. At about the age of 11 (later in some counties), children who have shown promise in academic subjects may take an examination, usually known as the "11-plus." This is a test of language, mathematics and reasoning skills. Children who do well on the examination may be admitted to grammar schools, which are state schools that emphasize academic achievement. Not all counties have grammar schools. Students who do not take the exam attend regular high schools, known as comprehensive schools, which accept students of all levels of ability.

When they are 16, students write an examination called the GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education). All students are tested in mathematics, English literature, English composition, chemistry, biology, physics, history or the Classics, one modern language, and one other subject, such as art or computer studies. Most students write nine exams; grammar school students may be encouraged to write exams in 10 subjects.

 After completing the GCSE, some students leave school, others go to technical college, and still others continue at high school for two more years and write a further set of standardized exams, known as A levels, in three or four subjects. These exams determine whether a student is eligible for university. Some schools prepare students for the International Baccalaureat instead of A levels.

About 7% of students attend independent schools. Girls' private schools may offer both primary and secondary education, but boys' schools are separated into preparatory schools and secondary schools, known as "public schools." Well-known boys' public schools include Eton, Harrow, Rugby and Winchester. Admission to one of the public schools is through an examination called Common Entrance. Many students at these schools board during the school term and return to their families during the holidays.

 Oxford and Cambridge are the oldest of England's 34 universities. Both were founded in the 13th century and are associations of small, independent colleges. About 500 other institutions provide postsecondary education. Higher education is subsidized by the government, although students who can afford to do so must pay part of their tuition fees. Scholarships and government loans are available.
  Did you know?
Universities that were founded in the 19th and 20th centuries are sometimes known as "redbrick" universities, to distinguish them from older establishments, which were usually built of stone.