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High school


High school

A high school (also secondary school, senior school, secondary college) is a school that provides children with part or all of their secondary education. It may come after primary school or middle school and be followed by higher education or vocational training.


  • Terminology 1
  • Country by country 2
    • Australia 2.1
    • Belgium and the Netherlands 2.2
    • Brazil 2.3
    • Canada 2.4
    • Colombia 2.5
    • Cuba 2.6
    • Czech Republic 2.7
    • Finland 2.8
    • France 2.9
    • Germany 2.10
    • Greece 2.11
    • Hong Kong 2.12
    • India 2.13
    • Indonesia 2.14
    • Iran 2.15
    • Ireland 2.16
    • Israel 2.17
    • Italy 2.18
    • Japan 2.19
    • Lithuania 2.20
    • Malaysia 2.21
    • Mexico 2.22
    • New Zealand 2.23
    • Norway 2.24
    • Pakistan 2.25
    • Palestine 2.26
    • People's Republic of China 2.27
    • Philippines 2.28
    • Portugal 2.29
    • Romania 2.30
    • Saudi Arabia 2.31
    • Singapore 2.32
    • Spain 2.33
    • South Africa 2.34
    • South Korea 2.35
    • Sweden 2.36
    • Taiwan 2.37
    • United Kingdom 2.38
      • England & Wales 2.38.1
      • Scotland 2.38.2
      • Northern Ireland 2.38.3
    • United States 2.39
    • Zimbabwe 2.40
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


The term "high school" originated in Scotland, with the world's oldest being Edinburgh's Royal High School from 1505.[1][2] The Royal High School was used as a model for the first public high school in the United States, the English High School founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 1821.

The precise stage of schooling provided by a high school differs from country to country, and may vary within the same jurisdiction. In all of New Zealand and Malaysia along with parts of Australia, Bangladesh and Canada, high school is synonymous with secondary school, and encompasses the entire second stage of education. However, those remaining high schools in Britain providing teaching from 12, rather than Secondary School, which starts at 11.

Country by country


In Australia, high school is secondary school, from Year 7 or Year 8 through to Year 12, varying from state to state. High school immediately follows primary (elementary) school; therefore, a Year-7 Australian high-school student is sometimes as young as 11. In Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, the term "high school" generally refers to Years 7–10, whereas the term "college" is used for Years 11–12. In Victoria the term "secondary college" has largely replaced the term "high school" following the reforms of the Labor Government in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Some schools have retained the name "high school" (such as Melbourne High School) and many have now dropped the "secondary" and are simply known as "college".

The later years of high school are known as the Higher School Certificate (HSC) in New South Wales for Year 12, Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) in Victoria for Years 11 and 12 and similar names in other states.

A student's first examination marks in New South Wales and a combination of examination marks and coursework in other states (except Queensland) are indexed into the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). This index is usually the sole factor considered when applying for university courses. The ATAR was only introduced in 2009 (in NSW), and previously each state calculated its own final high school rank, such as the Universities Admission Index (UAI) in NSW and Equivalent National Tertiary Entrance Rank (ENTER) in Victoria.

Victorian students also have an opportunity to complete a high-school qualification under the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning, which gives students practical experience in a trade or workplace. This qualification generally leads students into a trade or TAFE course.

Belgium and the Netherlands

In the Dutch speaking part of Belgium (Flanders) and in the Netherlands, the term "high school" is often confused with "hogeschool" used for non-university higher education; instead the Dutch "middelbaar" is used for secondary education schools, or "école secondaire" or "humanités" in French, which translates to middle and high school or secondary school. Students are required to attend from ages 12 to 18, scheduling between 32 and 36 hours of class a week.

In Belgium, there are four levels of "secondary education": ASO, TSO, KSO and BSO (Dutch) or ESP, EST, ESA and ESG (French).

  • BSO (Beroepssecundair onderwijs) or ESP (Enseignement Secondaire Professionel) translated as 'profession high school', allows a student to pursue an occupation upon graduation.
  • TSO (technisch secundair onderwijs) or EST (Enseignement Secondaire Technique) translated as 'technical high school' allows a student to pursue an occupation or further education upon graduation.
  • KSO (kunst secundair onderwijs) or ESA (Enseignement Secondaire Artistique) translated as 'art high school' leads to further arts education upon graduation.
  • ASO (algemeen secondair onderwijs) or ESG (Enseignement Secondaire Général) translated as 'general high school' is designed specifically to prepare students for further education upon graduation.

In the Netherlands, there are four levels of "high school": 'Praktijkonderwijs', vmbo, havo and vwo.

  • 'Praktijkonderwijs' (which roughly translates to 'practical education'), this is generally only intended for students who are otherwise incapable of VMBO. Compulsory until the student reaches 18 years of age.
  • VMBO (Voorbereidend Middelbaar Beroeps Onderwijs, which roughly translates to 'preparatory career education"). Students are aged 12–16. It is compulsory for students who complete VMBO to continue to MBO.
  • HAVO (Hoger Algemeen Voortgezet Onderwijs), roughly translated as 'higher general continued education'. Students are aged 12–17. Prepares students for higher career education (HBO).
  • VWO (Voorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs), meaning "preparatory scientific education", is the secondary education form after which students are free to continue studying at university level or HBO level. Students are aged 12–18.


In Brazil, the term for secondary school is ensino médio ("medial education", Portuguese pronunciation:  or ), which comprises the last three years of school.

It is part of the Brazilian ensino básico (, "basic education"), which includes early childhood, elementary and secondary education (the latter two mandatory), all of those parts of the Brazilian public education that should be provided free, as obligations of municipal (only for early childhood and elementary education) or state governments, to all its citizens (including adults) as defined in the rights of the Constitution of Brazil, and the duration is ideally 18 years if one enters the Day care at its 0 year (pronounced , in Brazil this term is synonymous with nursery school or preschool).

Secondary school in Brazil is aimed to prepare students for the entrance exam to universities (private or public) called "Vestibular". Every year, students are evaluated by ENEMNational Exam Educational Meter (National High School Exam). The grade obtained in this exam is often used as a part of the Vestibular process. The Federal Government of Brazil offers full (100%) or partial (50%) scholarships at private Universities for students well graded in ENEM egressed from public high schools in the program called PROUNI – Programa Universidade para Todos (University for Everyone Program). The secondary school learning encompasses four fields of knowledge:

  1. Humanities (History, Geography, Philosophy, Sociology and Arts);
  2. Natural Sciences (Physics, Chemistry and Biology);
  3. Mathematics;
  4. Languages (Portuguese and Língua estrangeira — at least one foreign language, English and/or Spanish).

Recently Philosophy and Sociology, which were banned during the military dictatorship (1964–1985), became compulsory again.

Educação física ("physical education", or gymnastics) classes are generally available and may be part of the Vestibular (both in theory and in practice) if one is disputing certain university courses. Other foreign languages, such as French or Esperanto, are also available in some cases. Informática (in this case referring to "computer science") and Música ("music education") are less common.


Ursula Franklin Academy, a high school in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

In Canada, "high school" (also known as "secondary school" or "collegiate institute") generally refers to a school comprising grades 9 through 12, but this can vary between provinces and school districts. Each province and territory has its own education system, and in some provinces junior high school includes grades 7 through 9 and senior high include grades 10 to 12. In other regions, high schools may teach grades 7 through 12. The majority of high schools in Canada schedule classes running from late August or early September to mid or late June with a summer break during July and August.

Canadian high schools offer many extracurricular activities, including athletics. The most popular sports in Canadian high schools are ice hockey, rugby, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, football, baseball, basketball, track and field athletics, and volleyball. Grad, also known as "senior prom" or "formal", is a very popular activity amongst graduating students. Many non-sporting extra-curricular activities are offered in Canadian high schools, including drama, student newspaper club, yearbook club, and computer club.

An increasing number of international students are attending Canadian high schools. Among all boarding secondary schools in Canada, Columbia International College is the largest, with around 1,400 international students from 66 countries.


Secondary and fourth education is divided in basic secondary (grades 6 to 9) and mid secondary (grades 10 and 11). The mid-secondary education (usually beginning at the age of 15 or 16) offers many different "tracks", which all lead to their own "Bachiller" after a curriculum of two years. Out of the usual academic curriculum (Bachillerato Académico), the students can follow one of the following technical tracks(Bachillerato en Tecnología o Applicado): Industrial track (Bachillerato Industrial), Commercial track (Bachillerato Commercial), Pedagogical Track (Bachillerato Pedagogico), Agricultural Track (Bachillerato Agropecuario), social promotion track (bachillerato de Promocion Social).

The "Bachiller" is required to continue into academic or professional higher Education. Nonetheless, technical and professional institutions of higher Education can also welcome students with a "qualification in Arts and business". This qualification is granted by the SENA after a two years curriculum.


High schools in Cuba are generically known as "Preuniversitarios", but they also have other names depending on their specialization: IPVCE (Spanish abbreviation of Preuniversitary Institute of Exact Sciences), IPUEC (abbreviation of Institute Preuniversitary on the Country-Side), EVA (Arts Vocational School) and ESPA (Sports) are amongst the most popular. All of them are secular institutions financed and run by the state, and provide education from 10th grade till 12th grade.

Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, the term "high school" (střední škola, literally "middle school") can refer to the last four, six or eight years of secondary education. Typically, pupils in the Czech Republic spend 9 years at elementary school before going to high school where they study for 4 more years. However, children can decide to leave elementary school after Grade 5 or, less commonly, Grade 7 to study at a gymnázium (sometimes translated as grammar school), which is considered as a better preparation for tercial education, for eight or six years respectively. Even students aged 11–15 who attend a gymnázium are considered high schoolers since in this case, gymnázium is traditionally a significantly more rigorous equivalent to elementary school.


After completing nine-year comprehensive school at the age of 16, one has the chance to go to a vocational school (ammattikoulu) or an upper secondary school (lukio), the latter sometimes translated as "high school" in English. In the vocational school one can study to be an electrician, hairdresser, plumber etc. In upper secondary school students take about 30 courses per year on a variety of different subjects (Maths, Biology, Chemistry, different languages, Psychology, Health Education etc.). Normally they graduate in three years, usually at the age of 19, after taking the national matriculation exam (ylioppilaskirjoitukset). Typically students continue to university (yliopisto) or ammattikorkeakoulu, but some decide not to go to any school after secondary school.


See Secondary education in France#Lycée


Germany has a tripartite school system consisting of Hauptschule, Realschule, and Gymnasium but with many variants. The most prominent of these is the Gesamtschule, which is a comprehensive school. Hauptschule, which ends at grade 9 (age 15/16 years), and Realschule, that ends at grade 10 (also age 16 years), are often followed by vocational education or the attendance of a technical college. Most primary schools already end with grade 4 (age 10 years) but some have grades 5 and 6 (age 11 and 12 years, respectively); the change between different school types, and thus tracks, remains possible throughout the school years. The German equivalent of the high school are the grades 10 to 12 (age 16 to 18 years) of Gymnasium, which are called "Oberstufe". To a lesser degree the vocational education in the dual education system could also be seen as an equivalent of high school. Traditionally, the high school grades were the grades 11 to 13 (age 17 to 19 years). But this has been shortened or is about to be shortened in all federal states to either 10 to 12 or 11 to 12.

Note that the German word Hochschule, the literal translation of "high school", means college or university, not high school.


Secondary education in Greece comprises two stages: Gymnasio (variously translated as Middle or Junior High School), a compulsory three-year school, after which students can attend Lykeion (an academically oriented High School) or Vocational training.

Hong Kong

Secondary education in Hong Kong is separated into junior and senior years. Senior secondary is equivalent to grade 10 to 12 which is compulsory for all students in Hong Kong. At the end of the senior secondary education, students will be sitting the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority.


Standards (Grades) XI to XII are called as Higher Secondary School or Senior Secondary School or Junior college. Some states refer to Standards(Grades) IX and X as High School, while XI and XII are termed as Intermediate. Other states refer to VI, VII, VIII, IX and X (grades 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10) as Secondary school and XI and XII (grades 11 and 12) as Senior Secondary School or Higher Secondary School. Usually, students from ages 14 to 18 study in this section. These schools may be affiliated to national boards/ Councils like Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) or National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) or various state boards.

Some states refer Primary School with grades 1, 2, 3 and 4, and Secondary School with grades 5 to 10. After senior secondary school, students go to university for higher studies.


An elementary student wearing the typical white and red uniform in Indonesia
Junior High School, known locally as Sekolah Menengah Pertama or abbreviated as SMP, and the other part which is Senior High School, known locally as Sekolah Menengah Atas and in other terms, Sekolah Menengah Umum which are abbreviated as SMA and SMU respectively. There is also one institution similar to SMA, but they focused on one specific career major which is known as Vocational High School, know locally as Sekolah Menengah Kejuruan or SMK. Unfortunately, citizens of Indonesia are currently looking down on SMK graduates and are not preferable to be attended by students. Junior high school is a must for all citizens of Indonesia. It is managed by the Department of Education in Indonesia and stated in the Indonesian constitution where every citizen has the right to study. Graduate students from SMP and SMA or SMU and SMK are achieving different educational certificates. All the students of Indonesian high schools must pass in the National Examination (or UN, Ujian Nasional.that test 4 subject for middle school and 6 subject for high school) held by BSNP (Badan Standarisasi Nasional Pendidikan), an organization under the Department of Education of Indonesia. Junior High Schooler wear Dark Blue colored Pants or Skirt as a Local Uniform.


In Iran, "High school" is known in Persian as "Dabirestan". It takes 4 years, after the Middle school (Rahnamai). After the first year of high school, students choose their general branch (Mathematics and Physics, Experimental sciences, Social sciences, Arts, etc.).

There is also Technical high school (Fani va Herfehi) for boys and girls.


In Ireland, students attend secondary school between the ages of about 12 (sometimes 13) and 18, following primary school. There are six years in secondary school, comprising two cycles. The junior cycle (first to third year), leads to the Junior Certificate. The senior cycle comprises fifth and sixth years, leading to the Leaving Certificate, as well as an optional (depending on the school) Transition Year in fourth year.



Education in Italy is compulsory from 6 to 16 years of age, and is divided into five stages: kindergarten (Scuola dell'Infanzia or Asilo), elementary school (Scuola Primaria or Scuola Elementare), middle school (Scuola Secondaria di Primo Grado or Scuola Media), high school (Scuola Secondaria di Secondo Grado o Scuola Superiore) and university (Università). Italy has both public and private education systems. In Italy a state-run school system has existed since 1859, when the Legge Casati (Casati Act) mandated educational responsibilities for the forthcoming Italian state (Italian unification took place in 1861).


Japanese high school students wearing the seifuku

The Japanese word for a high school is kōtōgakkō (高等学校; literally high school), or kōkō (高校) in short. High school in Japan covers grades 10 through 12. Although it is not mandatory, some 94% of Japanese people attend high school. The third year of high school in Japan is allotted for students to prepare for college exams known as "juken" (受験). Others may wish to settle for a job instead. High schools in Japan are referred to by MEXT as "upper secondary schools." Most English-language newspapers and sources use the term "high school". Many school boards also use "high school"; for instance the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Board of Education uses "senior high school". Generally the high school students spent most of the time out of the home. Classes commonly end at 3 or 4. After that the students go for their club activities.


In Lithuanian education system, aukštoji mokykla, which is a literal translation of "high school", actually refers to a college or a university, but not an institution that provides secondary education. Thus, universitetas (university) and kolegija (college) are both covered by the umbrella term aukštoji mokykla.

Secondary education is provided by institutions that are approved by the government for this type of education. There are three types of these institutions:

  • pagrindinė mokykla (the general school) – covers ages 7 to 16 (grades 1 to 10)
  • gimnazija, licėjus (gymnasium, lyceum) – covers ages 15 to 18 (grades 9 to 12)
  • vidurinė mokykla (secondary school) – covers ages 7 to 18 (grades 1 to 12)

Pagrindinė mokykla provides only an incomplete secondary education as it is not sufficient if one wants to start studies at a university. People who want to continue their education to obtain the full secondary education diploma, which would allow them to join a university upon completing the pagrindinė mokykla, must either enter a gymnasium, lyceum, or a vidurinė mokykla.

A vidurinė mokykla is the most universal type of these institutions as it offers all levels of pre-college education, starting from elementary level up to the secondary level.


In Malaysia, the term "high school" is rarely used. The Malay term for schools providing secondary education is sekolah menengah, translated as "secondary school" in English. Some schools, mostly mission schools originally set up by missionaries and Chinese independent high schools, have the term "High School" in their English names, such as the Catholic High School PJ and Foon Yew High School. However, as most of the mission schools had been assimilated into the national education system, they are referred to as "sekolah menengah" in Malay. For Chinese independent high schools, their Malay names may contain either "Sekolah Menengah" or "Sekolah Tinggi" (literally "High School" in Malay) depending on the school.


In Mexico, the term "high school" usually corresponds to preparatoria or bachillerato, comprising grades 10–12, when the student is 15 to 18 years old. It may prepare the student with basic training for a job, and is the required step before enrolment into a college or university.

Preparatoria traditionally consists of 3 years of education, divided into 6 semesters, with the first 4 semesters having a common curriculum, and the latter ones allowing some degree of specialization, either in physical sciences (electricity, chemistry, biology, etc.) or social sciences (commerce, philosophy, law, etc.).

The term preparatoria is most commonly used for institutions that offer a 3-year educational program that "prepares" the student with general knowledge to continue studying at a university. In contrast, the term bachillerato is most often used for institutions that provide vocational training, either in 2 or 3 years, so the graduate can get a job as a skilled worker, for example, an assistant accountant, a secretary or an electronics technician.

New Zealand

The term "high school" is commonly used as a term for secondary school in New Zealand. Secondary education in New Zealand takes up to five years, covering the approximate ages 12 to 18, corresponding to the school years 9 to 13.

The current and most common qualification system implemented throughout New Zealand's secondary schools is the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). NCEA 'standards' or tests/assignments begin usually with NCEA Level 1 in Year 11 (previously 5th form)and continue through to NCEA Level 2 at Year 12 (previously 6th form) and NCEA Level 3 at Year 13 (previously 7th form). Some assignments/tests are completed as early as Year 9 or 10, depending on the school and individual students.

High school students in New Zealand are taught a range of subjects. In year 9, the compulsory subjects are Mathematics, English, Physical Education, Social Studies, Science, and in some cases Māori (being the official language of some schools; such as Ngā Taiatea Wharekura.) as well as optional classes, such as Woodworking, Dance, Drama, Art, Graphics, Music, and a choice of languages, being mostly Māori, Spanish, French, German or Japanese, depending on the geographic location of the school and availability of teachers able to teach the respective subjects.

It is common for students in New Zealand to wear uniforms. Uniform styles vary widely between schools and are generally more casual compared to the more 'formal' uniforms worn in Australia's equivalent schools.


High school (Norwegian: "Videregående Skole", English: "Continuational School") in Norway is education and training that lead to general university admissions certification or vocational competence. Nearly all Norwegian students enter high school the year they become 16, and it is their 11th year of education. High school is normally provided with three years in school or with two years in school and two years in an enterprise. General studies primarily emphasize theoretical knowledge and lead to general university admissions certification. If one chooses general studies courses, you can enter university after three years. Vocational education and training leads to an occupation and to vocational competence with or without a craft- or journeyman’s certificate. Choosing vocational education/training allows one to enter working life within 3–5 years. You also have an opportunity to take the supplementary programme for general university admissions certification.

High school in Norway is the most common education level as it provides the theoretical and practical education to work as a skilled worker e.g. a carpenter or chef. There are multiple basic programs to choose from and gives a complete understanding of the craft or profession obtained.

List of programs: 3 general studies

  • Sports and physical education
  • Music, dance and drama with programme areas
    • Music
    • Dance
    • Drama
  • Specialization in general studies with programme areas
    • Arts, crafts and design studies
    • Natural science and mathematics studies
    • Languages, social science and economics studies

9 vocational

  • Building and construction
  • Design, arts and crafts
  • Electricity and electronics
  • Health and social care
  • Media and communication (with the option of general studies Vg3)
  • Agriculture, fishing and forestry (with the option of general studies Vg3)
  • Restaurant and food processing
  • Service and transport
  • Technical and industrial production

A craftsman's or journeyman’s certificate is normally the only qualification needed to work in one's chosen profession. Further education is provided through technical school, which gives a more technical education at an advanced level, but is not college.

The Norwegian high school is not to be confused with høyskole (Scandinavian university college), an educational institution whose Norwegian name translates into "high-school". Whereas videregående skole provides secondary education, høyskole provides tertiary, and is in Norway similar to a university.


In Pakistan, the term "high school" isn't often used to describe schools; nevertheless, the term encompasses grades 9 to 10. There are two high school systems prevalent there. First is the local matriculation system which is administered by both Federal[3] and Provincial Boards of Education and includes grades 9 and 10 after which pupils may be admitted into college (Intermediate). The second major education board there is the Cambridge International Exams GCE Ordinary Level conducted by the British Council.


Education in the Palestine refers to the educational system in Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Enrollment rates amongst Palestinians are relatively high by regional and global standards. According to a youth survey in 2003, 60% between the ages 10–24 indicated that education was their first priority. Youth literacy rate (the ages 15–24) is 98.2%, while the national literacy rate is 91.2%[4]

People's Republic of China

Lists of newly admitted students – posted outside of Linxia High School

In China, the term 'high school', also 'senior middle school' (高中), often refers to the senior part of the Chinese secondary education, as opposed to the junior part, which is more commonly known as '(junior) middle school'. Normally, students who have finished six years of primary education will continue three more years of academic study in middle schools as regulated by the Compulsory education law at the age of twelve.[5] This is not compulsory for senior secondary education, where junior graduates may choose to continue a three-year academic education in academic high schools, which will eventually lead to university, or to switch to a vocational course in vocational high schools.

Generally, high school years usually have two semesters, starting in September and February. In some rural areas, operation may subject to agricultural cycles. Number of lessons offered by school on a weekly basis is very subjective, largely depends on the school's resource. In addition to normal lessons, periods for private study and extracurricular activity are provided as well. The academic curriculum consists of Chinese, Mathematics, English, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, History, Music, Fine Arts, PE, Technology, Computing etc. Some schools may also offer vocational subjects. Generally speaking, Chinese, Mathematics and English are considered to be the three main subjects as they will definitely be examined in Gaokao. In most provinces, students also need to be examined in either natural sciences, which incorporate Physics, Chemistry and Biology, or social sciences, which incorporate Geography, History and ideology & politics.

In China cities, the majority of high school graduates will go onto universities or vocational colleges. Given the fact that the intensity of the competition for limited university places is unimaginable, most high schools are evaluated by their academic performance in Gaokao by parents and students.[6]

Rural secondary education has undergone several transformations since 1980, when county-level administrative units closed some schools and took over certain schools run by the people's communes. In 1982 the communes were eliminated. In 1985 educational reform legislation officially placed rural secondary schools under local administration. There was a high dropout rate among rural students in general and among secondary students in particular, largely because of parental attitudes. All students, especially males, were encouraged to attend secondary school if it would lead to entrance to a college or university (still regarded as prestigious) and escape from village life.


In 2012, the DepEd started to implement the K–12 education system.

The high school from the former system will now be called junior high school, while senior high school will be the 11th and 12th year of the new educational system. It will serve as a specialized upper secondary education. With the senior high school, students may choose a specialization based on aptitude, interests, and school capacity. The choice of career track will define the content of the subjects a student will take in Grades 11 and 12. Senior high school subjects fall under either the core curriculum or specific tracks.

  1. Academic
  2. Technical-vocational-livelihood
  3. Sports and arts
  • The first track, the academic track, includes three strands which are:
  1. Business, accountancy, and management
  2. Humanities, education, and social sciences
  3. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
  • The second track, the technical-vocational-livelihood, specializes in vocational learning. A student can obtain a National Certificate Level II (NC II), provided he/she passes the competency-based assessment of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. This certificate improves employability of graduates in fields like agriculture, electronics, and trade.
  • The third track, the sports and arts, is the track that is responsible for educating senior high school students on the fields of sports and arts.
The following table is the summarized version one of which is here.
School Grades in high school Age There have been changes in... No changes in... Implementation status
Junior high school Grade 7 12 Curriculum, Name Compulsory status Since 2012
Grade 8 13 Curriculum, Name Compulsory status Since 2013
Grade 9 14 Curriculum, Name Compulsory status Since 2014
Grade 10 15 Curriculum, Name Compulsory status Starting 2015
Senior high school Grade 11 16 All aspects N/A Starting 2016
Grade 12 17 All aspects N/A Starting 2017

The implementation of the revamped high school system under the K–12 system will be under Phase II and Phase III of the entire program. The summary of the changes are as follows:

  • Currently in high school, Physics is taught in 4th Year, but with the effect of the K—12 program, these subjects are connected and integrated from Grades 7 to 10 with the use of the spiral progression method in teaching. This will also be implemented on Mathematics.
  • Incoming 4th Year students in high school this S.Y. 2014–2015 are exempted in this program.


Secondary education, known as Ensino Secundário in Portugal, consists of the last three years of compulsory school. It follows the Ensino Básico (1st–9th grades). The secondary education certificates the qualification thus obtained and, in the case of work-oriented programmes, the qualification for specific jobs. It also serves to prepare students for the entrance exams to universities (private or public).

  • 10th year (15–16 years old)
  • 11th year (16–17 years old)
  • 12th year (17–18 years old)


In Romania, high school is commonly referred to as liceu (lyceum in English). The students usually enter the lyceum at the age of 14 or 15, and graduate when they're 18 or 19. In order to graduate and get a baccalaureate diploma, they must pass the BAC exam, and they must have fulfilled the four years (9–12) of post-secondary education. The high school diploma is enough to get a job in various domains.

Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, high school includes grade 10 through 12, consisting ages from 16 to 18.


In Singapore, schooling for those in the age range of 13 to 16 takes place in a secondary school, in accordance with the British system in England and Wales. Certain schools are known as high schools such as the Dunman High School, Nanyang Girls' High School and Singapore American School.


In Spain, after Elementary school, there is secondary school, which are grades 7 to 10. They are called 1º de la ESO, 2º de la ESO, 3º de la ESO and 4º de la ESO. ESO stands for "Educación Secundaria Obligatoria", which would be translated as Obligatory Secondary Education. What they call High School in Spain would be the "Bachillerato", which are grades 11 and 12. In these two grades there are common subjects to all the students, and the elective subjects which vary depending on the career you want to study in the university. The education is more specialized in different areas: there are the pure sciences, in which you take physics, chemistry and biology (for science careers). You can also choose technological sciences, in which the elective subjects are physics, chemistry, and technical drawing (for engineering careers and architecture and design), there is also humanities, which involve subjects such as economics and history. The fourth modality is pure letters, specialized in languages (philology careers), and the elective subjects are Greek and Latin. Lastly, you can choose arts, of which there are three different types, depending on the art: dancing, drawing, and drama.

South Africa

In South Africa, high school begins at grade 8. Students study for five years, at the end of which they write a Matriculation examination.

As of 2008, students sit the National Senior Certificate examinations, which replaced the Senior Certificate and Further Education and Training Certificate. To progress on to university, students must attain a pass in their Home Language, an Additional Language, Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy, and Life Orientation, as well as at least three electives; see further under National Senior Certificate. (The system previously allowed for an examination at the Higher or Standard grade for each subject. Since 2008, this has been discontinued. Relatedly, some components of the previous mathematics syllabus are now examined as electives.)

An alternative Matric examination is offered by the Independent Examinations Board (IEB), a body representing various of the private schools in South Africa. The IEB exams are considered by many teachers, parents, students and universities, both within South Africa and abroad, as more challenging than the state equivalent.

South Korea

In South Korea, students from grades 10 through 12 attend high schools (referred to as high school 1st–3rd grade). Some subjects such as Korean, English, math, etc. are obligatory in high schools, while some other subjects are electives. High schools in South Korea may also have specialty subject tracks. For example, students who wish to follow science, foreign language, physical activity, or art tracks may choose to go to an academic science, foreign language, or other specialty high school (Hangul: 특수목적고등학교; RR: deuksu-mokjeok godeung hakgyo). These high schools are often hard to get into, especially science and foreign language, which creates competition to go to a good high school.

Academic high schools in South Korea are known to have demanding courses and strict discipline. It is usual in South Korea that academic high schools open before 8:00 am starting with one-hour self-study and end around 11:00 pm due to about 5 additional (mandatory) hours of self-study time (Hangul: 자습). While U.S. President Barack Obama stated that U.S. schools could learn from how South Korean high schools are run, however some Korean people hold the high school education in Korea to be too competitive.[7]

Most Korean students may choose to go to common high school (Hangul: 인문계 고등학교; RR: inmungye godeung hakgyo) ; and other students may choose a vocational high school which emphasizes agriculture, commerce, or technical trade curricula (Hangul: 전문계 고등학교; RR: jeonmungye godeung hakgyo).

Unlike most developed countries, high schools in South Korea are neither free nor compulsory. However, 97 percent of Korean middle students do have aspirations to attend high school, according to a 2003 OECD study.[8]

General high schools in South Korea are called godgung hakgyo (고등학교; Hangul).


According to the Swedish Education Act, all children and youths shall have equal access to education. The education shall “provide the learners with knowledge and, in co-operation with the homes, promote their discordant development into responsible human beings and members of the community.” In Sweden, attendance at school is compulsory for all children aged 7–16. The age when children may start school is malleable: a child can start school as a 6, 7 or 8-year-old. Compulsory school is absolutely free.


The secondary education in Taiwan includes junior high school, senior high school, vocational high school, military school and complete high school. The traditional secondary education institutions were established during the Japanese colonial era (1895–1945). Today, they include many features from the United States.

After six years in elementary school, the rules typically state that children must enter junior high school, or their parents may be fined. There are three grades in junior high. Children who achieve the third grade can choose to enter senior high school, vocational high school or complete high school. If children want to continue their formal education, they must sit for an exam. Generally speaking, the grade to enter high school and complete high school is highest, while it is lower to go on to vocational high school and military school.

Senior high school has three grades. Graduates from senior high school often continue on to university. Vocational high school has three grades as well. Children who complete vocational high school can then enter a technological university. Complete high school is like that of American high schools, in that it has grades seven to grade twelve.

There are also international schools such as Taipei American School (TAS), Taipei Adventist Preparatory Academy (TAPA), Taipei Adventist American School (TAAS), National Experimental High School (NEHS), Taipei European School (TES), Hshinchu International School (HIS), Morrison Academy (MCA), Morrison Academy Kaohsiung (MAK), and Kaohsiung American School. These schools offer grades from Kindergarten to grade 12. English is instructed for all courses. Since the curriculum concurs with the corresponding country's curriculum, graduates from these international schools generally do not stay in Taiwan for their undergraduate degree.

United Kingdom

England & Wales

Medina High School, one of the five state-maintained high schools on the Isle of Wight.

Despite the term "high school" being created in Scotland, the education system of the United Kingdom varies by constituent country, so in neighbouring England and Wales the term's usage varies. In some cases, the phrase is used specifically for girls' schools (e.g. Aylesbury High School). In most of the country, education is divided between primary and secondary school, the latter for students beyond Year 6 (around age 11). In certain areas, such as Liverpool (e.g. Alsop High School), Manchester, Lancashire, Cardiff, and Herefordshire, secondary schools are generally called high schools.

Some of the country -- including the Isle of Wight, Northumberland and parts of southern England and the Midlands -- chooses a three-tier system, with the addition of a "middle" or "junior" (Years 5–8) school. In these areas, secondary schools are often unofficially referred to as "high schools" to avoid confusion as they are not the 'second' school. The term "tertiary" is never used to describe secondary or high schools in such areas.


Balwearie High School in Kirkcaldy – an example of a high school in Scotland

There are a variety of names used for secondary schools in Scotland, of which "high school" remains the most popular. Secondary schools in Scotland typically have six years, 1st to 6th, with pupils able to leave school from 4th year if they are 16 before a set date. Pupils generally go into 1st year aged 11 or 12, and leave after 6th year aged 17 or 18. In certain independent schools, there is a transitus year for pupils around 10 or 11 between primary and secondary education.

The term is used in both the state and independent school sectors - such as Stirling High School in the former and the High School of Glasgow in the latter. The oldest of such institutions is the Royal High School of Edinburgh. Among state schools, other popular titles for secondary institutions include "academy", "grammar school", "college" or simply "school". Some schools have changed their designations over time - for example, Prestwick Academy in Ayrshire was formerly called "Prestwick High School", and the John Neilson Institution in Paisley, Renfrewshire became the John Neilson High School.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, a child serves seven years in primary school labelled as P1–P7. Secondary school or high school is compulsory for a further five years. This is called First Form to Fifth Form or Year 8 to Year 12. GCSEs are taken in Fifth Form (Year 12). Lower and Upper Sixth (Year 13 and Year 14) are then optional years in which A-Levels are taken. Instead of Lower Sixth, pupils can instead attend a technical college with vocational subjects on offer.

The school term runs from 1 July to 30 June (the same as Scotland) This is different with English and Welsh schools which run from 1 September to 31 August meaning that a child born in the summer months would be the oldest in the year group if born in Northern Ireland or Scotland but would be put into the older class and become the youngest in the year group if born in England or Wales. This means that if a child wanted to go to university after their final year they must be 18 years old before 30 June of that year. In England and Wales the child must be 18 before 31 August.

United States

Individual states, counties, and school districts have considerable leeway in how they choose to divide their school levels. Students will generally graduate from high school in the year of their 18th birthday if they were born between January 1 and August 31, but this varies by state depending on the kindergarten cut-off date, which ranges from August 1 in Missouri to January 1 in Connecticut.[9] A few American schools still incorporate grades 7 through 12, but it is usually either grades 9–12 or grades 10–12. Some states split grades 9–10 and 11–12 into a junior high school and senior high school. For purposes of the Grade Point Average (GPA) and subject requirements used for college admission, grade 9 is usually considered the first year of high school regardless of whether the student is in the last year of a 7–9 junior high program, or the first year of a 9–12 high school program.

As a practical matter, while laws in most states mandate school attendance at least until graduation or age 16, many require attendance until age 17 or 18 (unless the student earns a diploma earlier, usually around age 16). Conversely, students who have failed a grade may remain in high school past the age of 18. In general, students over 19 attend remedial classes to receive a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate. State laws vary on the cut-off age for students to receive free public education services. Many states have adult high schools for people generally 18 and over. Students can stay in high school past the age of 18 if it is deemed appropriate. They cannot stay past a certain age depending on the state. On average, 71% of American students graduate from high school.[10][11][12][13] A high school diploma or GED certificate is usually required for entrance into a two or four-year college or university and to other post-secondary education programs.

High schools can usually be sub-classed as general high schools, vocational schools (VoTech schools), magnet schools, and college preparatory high schools (prep schools) and special high schools or alternative high schools. Most high schools are general high schools. These general population schools offer college preparatory classes for advanced students, general education classes for average students, and remedial courses for those who are struggling.

West Orange-Stark High School, a college preparatory high school in Texas

In some school districts exceptionally high-performing students are offered enrollment at a district college preparatory high school. Traditionally "prep schools" in North America were usually private institutions, though most medium or large public (state) school districts now offer university-preparatory schools for advanced students. Public prep schools draw the top students from their district and have strict entrance requirements. All academic classes offered in these schools are classified as honors, International Baccalaureate, or Advanced Placement.

In larger school districts, magnet schools are established to provide enhanced curriculum for one or more areas of study. Magnet schools may be created for a variety of topics such as mathematics, science, fine arts, and music. Admission (usually controlled) to magnet schools varies by school district in order to manage demand and resources. The school admission process may range from competitive admission standards to a lottery system.

Vocational high schools offer hands-on training to students that prepares them for careers in fields such as information technology, marketing, business, engineering and the medical professions. While some graduates of vocational or career and technical education high schools will go directly into a trade, others will pursue post-secondary education. The Association for Career and Technical Education is the largest national education association dedicated to career and technical education.

Special high schools cater for students who have special educational needs, e.g. because of learning difficulties or physical disabilities. Some special high schools are offered for students who have major disciplinary or mental health difficulties that make it problematic to educate them in traditional high school settings. Some special high schools are assigned as security risks, where the school houses students who are not yet old enough to legally leave school and are considered a danger to other students or teachers, but have not been convicted of a crime. Some special high schools are dedicated to students with drug or mental health difficulties and have medical and psychological staff on site. A few of these schools include a nursery and a child care staff so that teen parents can finish their education without having to find child care during the school day. Special high schools have their own campus, but sometimes are located in a section or wing of a general high school.

Another recent form of high school that has emerged is the online high school. Stanford University's own Education Program for Gifted Youth received a generous donation in 2006 and used it to create the first truly complete online high school, with an interactive and advanced program for advanced learners.

High school in the United States usually begins in late August or early September of each year and ends in late May or early June. During the excess two and a half months, the students are given summer vacation to rest from the school year. In some cases schools use a year round schedule.


The term "high school" is synonymous with secondary school, which starts at Form One (Year 8) and ends at Upper Six (i.e. Sixth Form or Year 13).

Government, missionary and some private high schools offer the ZIMSEC curriculum and conduct ZIMSEC Ordinary Level (Form Four or Year 11) and Advanced Level (Upper Six) examinations.

Most private high schools offer Cambridge International Examinations curriculum and conduct Cambridge IGCSE, and Advanced Level for the same Forms as public high schools respectively.

See also


  1. ^ James J. Trotter, The Royal High School, Edinburgh (London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, 1911), p. 186.
  2. ^ J. B. Barclay, The Tounis Scule: The Royal High School of Edinburgh (Edinburgh: Royal High School Club, 1974), p. 137.
  3. ^ Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Islamabad
  4. ^ The World Bank and Bisan Center for Research and Development (2006) The Role and Performance of Palestinian NGOs: In Health, Education and Agriculture, The World Bank and Bisan Center for Research and Development 
  5. ^ "9-year Compulsory Education". Retrieved 22 January 2013. 
  6. ^ Wang, Sibin. "A History of Rural, Economic, and Social Policies in China". Center for Social Development. Retrieved 22 January 2013. 
  7. ^ "Obama praises S. Korea for education system". Yonhap News Agency. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  8. ^ Kis, V. and E. Park (2012). A Skills beyond School Review of Korea, OECD Reviews of Vocational Education and Training. OECD Publishing. p. 29. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  9. ^ Kindergarten cut-off dates
  10. ^ Government Education Dept. article on High school dropout rates
  11. ^ Manhattan Institute article on High school dropout rates
  12. ^ Manhattan Institute article on High school dropout rates / Value of GED certificate
  13. ^ United Health Foundation article on High school dropout rates

External links

  • Australian CensusAtSchool (Australia)
  • Canadian Education Statistics Council (CESC) (United States)
  • Office for National Statistics (ONS) (United Kingdom)
  • National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) (United States)
  • High School Sports
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