A Key Stage
is a stage of the state education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...
system in England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...
, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...
and the British Territory of Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...
setting the educational knowledge expected of students at various ages. The term Key Stage is also used in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...
although the ages at which each Key Stage applies differ from England.
The stages are as follows:
| Key Stage
|| Final exams
|| Nursery / Reception (Early Years Foundation Stage
The Early Years Foundation Stage is a term defined in Section 39 of the British government's Childcare Act 2006. The EYFS comprises a set of Welfare Requirements and a set of Learning and Development Requirements, which must be followed by providers of care for children below 5 years old – the age...
|| 1st-2nd form infants
|| 1st-4th form juniors
|| 11 plus (generally only for Grammar School
A grammar school is one of several different types of school in the history of education in the United Kingdom and some other English-speaking countries, originally a school teaching classical languages but more recently an academically-oriented secondary school.The original purpose of mediaeval...
|| 1st-3rd form secondary
|| 4th-5th form secondary
The General Certificate of Secondary Education is an academic qualification awarded in a specified subject, generally taken in a number of subjects by students aged 14–16 in secondary education in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and is equivalent to a Level 2 and Level 1 in Key Skills...
|| Sixth form
In the education systems of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and of Commonwealth West Indian countries such as Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Jamaica and Malta, the sixth form is the final two years of secondary education, where students, usually sixteen to eighteen years of age,...
secondary, also FE college
Further education is a term mainly used in connection with education in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is post-compulsory education , that is distinct from the education offered in universities...
| A-Levels, AS-Levels, NVQs, National Diploma
The National Diploma was a three year ab initio specialised higher education qualification in a technology discipline offered by an Institute of Technology or other HETAC designated institution in Ireland....
The National Curriculum sets out targets to be achieved in various subject areas at each of the Key Stages.
The Key Stages were first defined in 1988 Education Reform Act
The Education Reform Act 1988 is widely regarded as the most important single piece of education legislation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland since the 'Butler' Education Act 1944...
to accompany the first introduction of the National Curriculum. The precise definition of each of the main 4 Key Stages is age-related, incorporating all pupils of a particular age at the beginning of each academic year. The Key Stages were designed to fit with the most prevalent structures which had already grown up in the education system over the previous 100 years of development.
Key Stage 1 fits broadly with the first stage of primary education
A primary school is an institution in which children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as primary or elementary education. Primary school is the preferred term in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth Nations, and in most publications of the United Nations Educational,...
, often known as infant school
An Infant school is a term used primarily in the United Kingdom for school for children between the ages of four and seven years. It is usually a small school serving a particular locality....
s. This break had existed for some time, being acknowledged in the 1931 Hadow report as 'axiomatic' by as early as 1870.http://www.educationengland.org.uk/documents/hadow1931/3104.html
Key Stage 2 fits the later stage of primary education, often known as junior school
A junior school is a type of school which caters for children, often between the ages of 7 and 11.-Australia:In Australia, a junior school is usually a part of a private school that educates children between the ages of 5 and 12....
s. Again, described by Sir William Henry Hadow
Sir William Henry Hadow CBE was a leading educational reformer in Great Britain and a musicologist.Hadow was born at Ebrington, Gloucester, England. He studied at Malvern College, followed by Worcester College, Oxford where he taught and became Dean...
, this took pupils up to the standardised break at age 11.
Secondary education was split between Key Stages 3 and 4 at age 14, to align with long-existing two-year examination courses at GCSE level.
Key Stages 0 and 5 have no legal definition, and are merely used as indicators to complement the defined Key Stages.