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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > British English term for "high school"    

British English term for "high school"


British English term for "high school"
Hello everyone, 

I have a question: How would you say "high school" in British English... there are so many schools there and I �m looking for a general term which includes a diploma that enables pupils to go on to university. 

Would "secondary school" or "upper-secondary school" be appropriate?

Thanks for your answers... 


9 Dec 2010      

United Kingdom

When I attended school in London my school was called South Kilburn High School and most of the other secondary schools at the time, though since then most have reverted to being called secondary schools.

9 Dec 2010     


Hi Silvia,

Before you go to university you need to get some qualifications called "A-levels".  You can get these qualifications in a "Sixth Form College".


"Secondary school" is not appropriate as those are for children up to age 16. I �ve never heard of an "upper-secondary school".

I hope this answers your question.

9 Dec 2010     

United Kingdom

Hi Silv
I would use high school or secondary school, however I live in Scotland and the education system is different here than in England.  We don �t have Sixth Form Colleges, we just go to high school and then university.

9 Dec 2010     

United Kingdom

A British �high school � is not necessarily the same as an American one, if that �s what you �re looking for,Silvia.

For many local authorities, it �s a question of standardisation, tradition, redesignation etc. For example, in North Ayrshire (Scotland), most secondary schools are nominally �Academies� now (eg Largs Academy), but the secondary school on the island of Arran - within the same authority area - is called a �High School � although there �s absolutely no difference in status. In other areas (Argyll and Bute, Glasgow etc), it �s a fair old mixter-maxter).

@ occurin �: no offence meant, but Silvia was asking about British English. In Scotland, Highers or, increasingly, Advanced Highers, are the usual entry requirements for university and sixth-form colleges don �t, to the best of my knowledge, exist outwith the private sector in Scotland. Secondary pupils can stay on till age 18 - should they want to.

PS when I was a kid, I passed an exam, called the �11-plus �, to get into the local senior secondary. My brother failed the same exam and went instead into one of the local junior secondaries. It had nada to do with age.

9 Dec 2010     



Thanks for your replies. I �d just need to find a British English equivalent for our Italian school. Well I guess, I �ll stick to "secondary school".

Oh, and yes Karen I had read about high schools in Scotland... where the term apparently originated :-) one learns something new every day. Wink 

Well, cheers for your replies, they have been very helpful. 

Now I �ll head back to Edinburgh with D.I. Rebus :-) 

Good night, 


9 Dec 2010     


We call it secondary school. I studied for my A levels at a secondary school when I was 17 and 18.

10 Dec 2010     


 How bout college, would that help? When I was in London I went to "college".

14 Dec 2010