KS what? The key stages clarified

September 12, 2016


When looking for interesting new authentic material to use in my lesson, I often encounter the fact that the different education orientated materials found on the web are categorised in different key stages.

That’s fine, it is a matter of simply linking the correct key stage to my target age range.

If only it were that simple.

Differences between UK and USA

When I tried to figure out which books would be best for my students according to the key stages, I had to visit multiple websites in order to understand exactly what books I had to buy.

Indeed, Wikipedia was actually wrong this time. It happens.

One of my conclusions was that the age ranges of the different years in both the UK and the USA do NOT overlap.

How convenient…

So, time to clarify!

Reading the table

Below you can find a table that compares the different year of these two countries.

Want me to add one? Just let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

Now, the education system in the USA is a bit troublesome for me with all the different types of High school, so if you want more details, feel free to visit the perfectly clear diagram on the wiki page. I simplified it a little to fit the purpose of this blog post.

How to use the table

In the table below I compared the key stages with their respective years and age range.

Imagine you find a book saying “Key stage 3-1”, but you have no idea if that fits your student’s age. Using this table, you can see that KS 3-1 is actually the age range of 12-13.

Similarly, you might want to know what Key stage or year might be best for your students. If you teach 13-14 year olds, you kan use KS 3-1 (or year 9) books from the UK and year 8 books from the US.

In other words, using this table, finding authentic material for your lessons should be a bit easier.

Age range Year Key Stage Name Year Name
5-6 1 1 Primary
6-7 2 1 Primary 1 Elementary
7-8 3 2 Primary, junior school 2 Elementary
8-9 4 2 Primary, junior school 3 Elementary
9-10 5 2 Primary, junior school 4 Elementary
10-11 6 2 Primary, junior school 5
11-12 7 3 Secondary 6 Junior High school
12-13 8 3 Secondary 7 Junior High school
13-14 9 3 Secondary 8 Junior High school
14-15 10 4 Secondary 9 Junior High school
15-16 11 4 Secondary 10 Senior High school
16-17 12 5 Sixth Form 11 Senior High school
17-18 13 5 Sixth Form 12 Senior High school


Next time you find a book or a resource mentioning key stages of a school year, you can check this table to see if it fits your target age range. Curriculum difference still apply of course.

Hope this helps! Now I used a variety of websites to create this overview, some of which did not even seem to agree with each other, so if anyone wants to add to this, please let me know in the comments below!

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