Education System: PH vs UK

I have been studying in the Philippines (PH) for 3 years now and one thing I get asked a lot is the difference in the Education System: PH vs UK.

So, this will be a brief summary of the differences I’ve noticed between the two education systems because… Dangggg! There are a few.

Now, let’s get on with it.

Education System: PH vs UK

One of the first things you’ll notice is the difference in year levels or grade levels, depending on where you are. In the UK it’s called year levels and it goes from Year 1 to Year 13. The Philippines, however, uses grade levels starting from Grade 1 to Grade 12.

UK: Education System

  • The collective term for Years 1 & 2 is Key Stage 1 (KS1)
  • Year 3 to 6 are in Key Stage 2 (KS2)
  • Years 7-9 are Key Stage 3 (KS3)
  • Years 10 & 11 Key Stage 4 (KS4)
  • Year 12 & 13 Key Stage 5 (KS5/ Sixth Form)
  • You can opt to go to college or start an apprenticeship instead of KS5
  • University is the higher education after KS5 (Sixth Form) or College

PH: Education System

  • The collective terms for Grades 1 to 6 is Elementary School
  • Grade 7 to 10 is Junior High School
  • Grade 11 to 12 is Senior High School
  • College and University are the same level and is sometimes used interchangeably

So, in PH they follow a similar system as the US. They have elementary (grade school), then high school (junior high and senior high) and then college or university. Whilst in the UK they use key stages from 1-5 before you go onto do university. The equivalents of the KS’s are pretty straightforward until you get into KS5. Although, it is the equivalent of senior high school in the PH there are other options for UK students than pure senior high school education.

KS5 or Sixth Form is usually for those who are 16-19 years old. However, like I said there are many options here, after KS4. You can study in Sixth Form, go to college, start an apprenticeship or just start working. See, college and university don’t usually coincide in the UK unlike how it is in the Philippines.

College in the Philippines vs College in the UK

A college in the UK is a lot similar to Sixth form than it is to a university. It is seen as further education, the step you take in between high school and university. The qualification you get in college or sixth form helps you get into a university or to work. Basically, it is the equivalent of a PH senior high school program.

In a PH college, they can give you the same qualification as going into a university. The only differences are colleges in the PH are usually a smaller institution than universities, and they also only offer undergraduate degree programs. However, universities in the PH can offer both undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Available Further Education Courses/Subjects

Further education (FE) can be described as senior high in PH and Sixth form, KS5, or college in the UK. Although both do become a lot more specific into the field or course you want to pursue in University there’s still a lot of differences in FE subjects.

In the PH, they have different ‘strands’ which help sorts out what subjects you will be taking in your FE. The different strands consist of:

  • Accountancy, Business and Management strand (ABM)
  • Humanities and Social Sciences Strand (HUMSS)
  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics strand (STEM)
  • General Academic Strand (GAS)
  • Pre-Baccalaureate Maritime

In the UK, you can choose to study in Sixth Form, College or Sixth Form Colleges which can offer either BTEC or A-Level subjects. Both of which are qualifications you can use to go into Higher Education or University. I’ll make a quick tabulation of the differences between BTEC and A-Levels, below.

  • More academic
  • Classroom-based
  • Mostly have exams at the end as well as coursework
  • Can still offer a wide range of courses or careers
  • More practical
  • Experience-based
  • Doesn’t really have exams and mostly coursework
  • More specific to a particular field


PH and the UK are very different countries, from culture to politics and the education system. I wasn’t able to fully delve into the differences in UK Universities vs PH Universities/College because I am only going by my own experiences and general knowledge online. I’d like to create a blog focusing on that soon. I may need the help of my friends and more time for me to create a fuller picture, though. So, for now, I hope you enjoyed learning the differences in UK and PH education system.

What’s the education system like in your home country? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to learn more about it.
To say thank you to my readers for taking the time to read. Keep safe and keep praying.

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4 Thoughts on “Education System: PH vs UK

  1. This is such an interesting post! I have lived in the UK all my life, and been through the education system, so I don’t have much to compare it with. But learning about the PH system was super cool, there are definitely differences! Thanks for sharing.

    Anika |

    1. Thank you so much at least you got a little more info about the education system on other countries, right? ☺️ Hope you have an amazing day and rest of 2021.

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