There are five various stages of education in the UK namely: early years, primary, secondary,
Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE). For all children aged between 5 and 16 Education is made compulsory. The starting age for compulsory education in Northern Ireland is slightly different starting from the age of 4.
In the United Kingdom, schools are either provided by the local government authority (state schools) and are free for all pupils, or they are independent schools and charge fees to the parents of the pupils. In general there are fundamental similarities for the education system throughout the UK. For instance, the compulsory requirement for all children to attend education till age 16. They then have options to continue or pursue further education to prepare themselves for Universities. In the independent schools, most pupils stay at school until the age of 18 and nearly all pupils go on to university after they leave school.
On the other hand there are also significant differences in practices between England and Wales, in comparison to Scotland. In England and Wales, the government introduced a National Curriculum in 1988. This provides a framework for education between the ages of 5 - 18. All state schools are required to follow it. Independent schools are not required to follow the National Curriculum in all its details, but they must show that they provide a good all-round education and they are inspected regularly every few years. For Scotland however have their own education practices and do not follow England and Wales in their curriculums.