High school

Tóth Árpád Gimnázium a secondary school in Debrecen, Hungary

A secondary school is both an organization that provides secondary education and the building where this takes place. Some secondary schools can provide both lower secondary education and upper secondary education (levels 2 and 3 of the ISCED scale), but these can also be provided in separate schools, as in the American middle school- high school system.

Secondary schools typically follow on from primary schools and lead into vocational and tertiary education. Attendance is compulsory in most countries for students between the ages of 11 and 16. The organisations, buildings, and terminology are more or less unique in each country.[1][2]

Levels of education[]

First 'Early levels' of the ISCED 2011 levels of education and comparison with ISCED 1997
Level ISCED 2011 Description Corresponding ISCED 1997 level
0 Early childhood Education (01 Early childhood educational development) Education designed to support early development in preparation for participation in school and society. Programmes designed for children below the age of 3. None
0 Early childhood Education (02 Pre-primary education) Education designed to support early development in preparation for participation in school and society. Programmes designed for children from age 3 to the start of primary education. Level 0: Pre-primary education.
1 Primary education Programmes typically designed to provide students with fundamental skills in reading, writing and mathematics and to establish a solid foundation for learning. Level 1: Primary education or first stage of basic education.
2 Lower secondary education First stage of secondary education building on primary education, typically with a more subject-oriented curriculum. Level 2: Lower secondary education or second stage of basic education
3 Upper secondary education Second/final stage of secondary education preparing for tertiary education or providing skills relevant to employment. Usually with an increased range of subject options and streams. Level 3: Upper secondary education
4 Post-secondary non-tertiary education Programmes providing learning experiences that build on secondary education and prepare for labour market entry or tertiary education. The content is broader than secondary but not as complex as tertiary education. Level 4: Post-secondary non-tertiary education
5 Short-cycle tertiary education Short first tertiary programmes that are typically practically-based, occupationally-specific and prepare for labour market entry. These programmes may also provide a pathway to other tertiary programmes. Level 5B: First stage of tertiary education: typically shorter, more practical/technical/occupationally specific programmes leading to professional qualifications.


Terminology- descriptions of cohorts[]

Within the English speaking world, there are three widely used systems to describe the age of the child. The first is the 'equivalent ages', then countries that base their education systems on the 'English model' use one of two methods to identify the year group, while countries that base their systems on the 'American K-12 model' refer to their year groups as 'grades'. This terminology extends into research literature. Below is a convenient comparison [4]

Equivalent ages 4-5 5-6 6-7 7-8 8-9 9-10 10-11
USA (grades) Pre-K K 1 2 3 4 5
England (forms) Reception Infants Top infants Junior 1 Junior 2 Junior 3 Junior 4
England (year) R 1 2 3 4 5 6
ISCED level 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 [4]
Equivalent ages 11-12 12-13 13-14 14-15 15-16 16-17 17-18
USA (grades) 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
USA (nicknames) Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior
England (forms) First Second Third Fourth Fifth Lower Sixth Upper Sixth
England (year) 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
ISCED level 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 [4]

Theoretical framework[]

High school in Bratislava, Slovakia (Gamča)

School building design does not happen in isolation. The building (or school campus) needs to accommodate:

Each country will have a different education system and priorities. [5] Schools need to accommodate students, staff, storage, mechanical and electrical systems, storage, support staff, ancillary staff and administration. The number of rooms required can be determined from the predicted roll of the school and the area needed.

According to standards used in the UK, a general classroom for 30 students needs to be 55 m², or more generously 62 m². A general art room for 30 students needs to be 83 m², but 104 m² for 3D textile work. A drama studio or a specialist science laboratory for 30 needs to be 90 m². Examples are given on how this can be configured for a 1,200 place secondary (practical specialism).[6] and 1,850 place secondary school.[7]

Building design specifications[]

The first taxpayer-funded public school in the United States was in Dedham.

The building providing the education has to fulfil the needs of: The students, the teachers, the non-teaching support staff, the administrators and the community. It has to meet general government building guidelines, health requirements, minimal functional requirements for classrooms, toilets and showers, electricity and services, preparation and storage of textbooks and basic teaching aids. [8] An optimum secondary school will meet the minimum conditions and will have :

Government accountants having read the advice then publish minimum guidelines on schools. These enable environmental modelling and establishing building costs. Future design plans are audited to ensure that these standards are met but not exceeded. Government ministries continue to press for the 'minimum' space and cost standards to be reduced.

The UK government published this downwardly revised space formula in 2014. It said the floor area should be 1050m² (+ 350m² if there is a sixth form) + 6.3m²/pupil place for 11- to 16-year-olds + 7m²/pupil place for post-16s. The external finishes were to be downgraded to meet a build cost of £1113/m². [9]

Secondary schools by country[]

A secondary school, locally may be called high school or senior high school. In some countries there are two phases to secondary education (ISCED 2) and (ISCED 3), here the junior high school, intermediate school, lower secondary school or middle school occurs between the primary school (ISCED 1) and high school.

Names for secondary schools by country

See also[]


  1. ^ "International Standard Classification of EducationI S C E D 1997". www.unesco.org. 
  2. ^ Iwamoto, Wataru (2005). "Towards a Convergence of Knowledge Acquisition and Skills Development" (PDF). uis.unesco.org. UNESCO. Retrieved 11 March 2017. 
  3. ^ (PDF) http://uis.unesco.org/sites/default/files/documents/international-standard-classification-of-education-isced-2011-en.pdf. Retrieved 25 December 2017.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ a b c Ward, Ken. "British and American Systems (Grades)". trans4mind.com. Retrieved 30 March 2017. 
  5. ^ Liew Kok-Pun, Michael (1981). "Design of secondary schools:Singapore a case study" (PDF). Educational Building reports. Voume 17: UNESCO. p. 37. Retrieved 3 April 2017. 
  6. ^ "Baseline designs: 1,200 place secondary (practical specialism) - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. GOV.UK. Retrieved 4 April 2017. 
  7. ^ "Baseline design: 1,850 place secondary school - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. gov.uk. Retrieved 4 April 2017. 
  8. ^ a b "Guidelines relating to planning for public school infrastructure". Department of Basic Education, Republic of South Africa. 2012. Retrieved 3 April 2017. 
  9. ^ "Baseline designs for schools: guidance - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Education Funding Agency. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2017. 

External links[]