Most British children go to state (public) schools, starting at primary school and changing to secondary school when they are 11, at the end of Year six (grade 5)
Some however go to schools which charge fees, which may be called private, independent or public schools. ‘Public schools’ are the oldest, grandest and most expensive, they include famous boarding schools such as Eton. Preparatory schools or ‘prep’ schools are fee-paying primary schools. Common Entrance is an exam taken by prep school pupils to get into public schools.
At the end of Year 11, you take your GCSEs – external examinations in a range of subjects. Most people take about eight to ten. Then you go into the Sixth Form (but you are still in Years 12 and 13) In some areas (e.g. London) it is not unusual to change schools for sixth form, or go to a Sixth form college. In Year 12 you generally study four subjects, and then take external exams called AS levels. Then you drop one subject and the following year take three A levels.
Most British schoolchildren wear school uniform until they are in the Sixth Form. This usually includes a tie and blazer (jacket).