High school

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High school, or Secondary school, is the last segment of compulsory education in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, New Zealand, Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan (Republic of China) (only junior high school), the United Kingdom and the United States. It provides a secondary education for boys and girls. The idea was first instituted in France by Napoleon as a way to train future officers for his military.


High School is the most common name for secondary schools in Australia.

In Victoria the name was officially changed to secondary college in the early 1990s, but to the majority of the adult population they are still "high schools".

In the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania High School is 7–10, and students go to (matriculation) College for 11–12.

Many private secondary education institutions are called colleges.

In some states TAFE institutes/colleges offfer High School equivalent courses, usually undertaken by adult students who left school without completing/undertaking Year 12 leaving certificate requirements. There are also private commercial education facilities offering Year 12 leaving certificate courses, often to students wishing to improve on their High School results in order to obtain entry to, or better placement opportunities at, University.

The exact length of secondary schooling varies from state to state. With High Schools in New South Wales and Victoria serving years 7–12, and Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia serving years 8–12.

It is compulsory to attend school until the age of fifteen in all states and territories except for South Australia and Tasmania, where attendance is complusory until age 16.

The matter of compulsory attendance has been complicated by various initiatives at Commonwealth and State level to ensure that young people are in school, training or employment. There are calls to replace compulsory attendance age with compulsory achievement requirements, meaning that students must complete their final year level rather than being able to leave at reaching "leaving age". There are also calls to make attendance to the end of Year 12 mandatory.

See Queensland state high schools See List of schools in Australia


Secondary schooling in Canada differs depending on the province in which one resides. Normally it follows the American pattern; however, in Quebec, high school is grades 7 to 11[1]. In Quebec most students follow high school by attending a CÉGEP, which is comparable to a two-year junior college and is obligatory for Quebec students wishing to go on to university in Quebec. Vocational CEGEPs are three years. Secondary schools in the remaining provinces (except Alberta) use four grades from 9 through 12, with OAC/grade 13 having been recently removed as a requirement for students wishing to attend post-secondary school in Ontario.

In Alberta, a secondary school is called a "senior high school", which teaches grades 10-12. A middle school is called a "junior high school", and teaches grades 7-9. Most senior high schools simply have "high school" in their name, without including the word "senior". If not stated, the term "high school" usually just refers to a "senior high school". British Columbia uses a system similar to Alberta (grade 8-12 or 9-12, depending on regional school boards).

Historically several provinces had two secondary education programs. High schools were to prepare students to enter the workforce while collegiate institutes prepared students for university.

Hong Kong

Main article: Education in Hong Kong

Secondary education in Hong Kong is largely based on the British schooling system. High school starts on the 7th year of formal education, after Primary Six, called Form One. Students normally spend five years in secondary schools, of which the first three years (Forms One to Three) are free and compulsory like primary education. Forms Four and Five students prepare for the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE), which takes place after Form Five. Students obtaining a satisfactory grade will be promoted to Form Six, who then prepare for the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE) (colloquially the A-levels), which is to be taken after Form Seven. The HKALE and HKCEE results will be considered by universities for admission. Some secondary schools in Hong Kong are called "colleges." In some schools, Form Six and Form Seven are also called Lower Six and Upper Six respectively.

The HKCEE and HKALE is equivalent to the GCE O-level (or GCSE) and the GCE A-level respectively.

As of Oct 2004, there has been heated discussion on proposed changes in the education system, which includes (amongst others) reduction of the duration of secondary education from seven years to six years, and merge the two exams HKCEE and HKALE into one exam. The proposed changes will be in effect within the next few years.


Japanese high school students in uniform

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 years 10 through 12, and it is not mandatory. Most Japanese pupils attend high school. High schools in Japan are referred to by MEXT as upper secondary schools. However most English-language newspapers and sources use the term "high school". Many school boards also use "high school"; for instance Tokyo's metropolitan government uses "senior high school".

See also: Secondary education in Japan


See also Secondary education in Singapore

Based on results of the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), Singapore's students undergo secondary education in either the Special, Express, Normal courses or the Integrated Programme which is recently implemented in 2004. Both the Special and Express are 4-year courses leading up to a Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education (GCE) 'Ordinary' - 'O' level examination. The difference between Special and Express is that the former's mother tongue language (English and Mother Tongue) are taught at a higher level (more difficult).

The Normal course is a 4-year course leading up to a Singapore-Cambridge GCE 'Normal' - 'N' level examination, with the possiblity of a 5th year followed by a Singapore-Cambridge GCE 'Ordinary' - 'O' level examination. It is split into Normal (Academic) and Normal (Technical) where in the latter students take subjects that are technical in nature, such as Design and Technology.

After the second year of a secondary school course, students are typically steamed into a wide range of course combinations, making the total number of subject they have to sit for in O Level six to ten subjects. This includes science (Physics, Biology and Chemistry), humanities (Elective Geography/History, Pure Geography/History, Social Studies, Literature, etc.) and additional mathematics subject at a higher level, or "combined" subject modules.

Co-Curricular Activities become compulsory at the Secondary level, where all pupils must participate in at least one core CCA, and participation is graded together with other things like Leadership throughout the four years of Secondary education, in a scoring system. Competitions are organised so that students can have an objective towards to work, and in the case of musical groups, showcase talents. [2]

Republic of China (Taiwan)

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 in "Japanese Colonial Time." Today they include many features from the United States.

After six years in elementary school, the rules 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.

United Kingdom

More Information: Education in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the term "high school" is not used generically, though in Scotland it is frequently used in the name of a school, an example being the Royal High School in Edinburgh. Unlike the United States, a pupil of such a school would refer to the institution simply as "school" and in general discussion, the term "secondary school" is invariably used to make the distinction between these schools and schools for younger children ("primary school").

In most part of the UK students transfer from primary school to secondary school at age 11. Education is compulsory to age 16 and schooling continues for 2 further years after that. Traditionally the five years of compulsory secondary schooling from ages 11 to 16 were known as "first year" through to "fifth year," but they have now been renamed "Year 7" through to "Year 11." After Year 11 a student can opt to remain at school, to transfer to a college, or to leave education and seek work. Those who stay at school enter years 12 and 13. These years are traditionally known as the Sixth Form ("Lower Sixth" and "Upper Sixth"), and required students to specialise in three or four subjects for their A Levels. This is an unusually specialised curriculum for this age group by international standards, and recently some moves have been made to increase the number of subjects studied. There are also vocational qualifications aimed at this age group. After attaining the relevant A Level qualifications the student can enter university.

In a few parts of the UK there are middle schools for ages 9 to 13 and upper schools for ages 13-18.

Republic of Ireland

Main article: Education in the Republic of Ireland

Around the age of 12 students start secondary school. Secondary school is rarely divided into several parts Middle School (Meánscoil) Transition Year and High School (Ardscoil) .

The first three years are known as the Junior Cycle which builds on the education received at primary level and culminates with the Junior Certificate Examination. The Junior Certificate Examination is taken after three years of study and not before fourteen years of age.

Transition Year (4th year) is usually optional, however in some private schools it is mandatory. The content of this is left to the school to model on the local needs often focusing on work placement and related projects. The program is being taken by an increasing number of students.

After TY there are two Years left (5th and 6th year). The senior Cycle is studied in 5th and 6th year and builds on the junior cycle and culminates with the Leaving Certificate Examination. The Leaving Certificate Examination is taken after at least two years of study after the Junior Certificate Examination.

Therefore, a typical secondary school will consist of First to Third Year (with the Junior Cert. at the end of Third), the usually optional Transistion Year (though compulsory in some schools), and Fifth and Sixth Year (with the Leaving Cert. at the end of Sixth).

Students may not leave school until they have reached the age of 16. However the huge majority students attend and complete secondary education and some often repeat 6th year if they are not satisfied with their leaving cert results.

South Africa

In South Africa, high school begins at Grade 8 (the eighth year of education). Students study for five years, at the end of which they write what are known as matric examinations. After this, they can progress to university education (provided they have been academically successful).

United States

Main article: Secondary education in the United States

In the United States, high school generally consists of grades 9, 10, 11, and 12, although the inclusion of grade 9 varies by school district. Students usually graduate from high school in the year of their 18th birthday. A few American secondary schools still incorporate grades 7 through 12, but the norm is grades 9-12.

About 70% of American students complete high school and receive a diploma. A high school diploma or General Educational Development Test (GED) certificate is usually required for entrance into a two or four-year college or university and to other post-secondary education programs.

As a practical matter, while laws in most states mandate school attendance at least until graduation or age 16, enforcement of the truancy laws is sporadic. Conversely, students who have failed a grade may remain in high school past the age of 18, if they have not graduated on time. The public-funded schools must provide education to everyone; however, if an individual proves a threat to himself and/or others, or if he reaches the age of 21 without a diploma, then most states allow the school to expel the student.

cs:Střední škola de:Weiterführende Schule ko:고등학교 nl:Secundair onderwijs ja:高等学校 fi: High School tl:Mataas na paaralan