What is Key Stage 4?


What is Key Stage 4?

What is Key Stage 4

Key Stage 4 is the legal terminology for the last 2 years of compulsory schooling in maintained English and Welsh schools. Students are usually aged 14 when they start KS4 and 16, or about to turn 16 when they finish.


What is on the Key Stage 4 curriculum?


During Key Stage 3 students choose the additional subjects they are going to study at KS4 and this process is known as making your ‘Options’.

Just as in the other Key Stages of the UK curriculum the STEM subjects of English, Maths and Science are compulsory as well as the Foundation ones ie Citizenship, Computing and PE. Schools are also obliged to provide Religious Education as well as Sex and Relationship Education though parents/carers have the right to remove their children from these two lessons.

Beyond these, schools are also obliged to offer access to the following areas from which students can then choose a minimum of individual subject from each

  • Arts: Art and Design, Music, Dance, Drama and Media Arts
  • Design and Technology
  • Humanities: History and Geography
  • Modern Foreign Languages: French, German or Spanish

Schools may offer additional subjects.


What are the overseas equivalents of Key Stage 4?


Definition of Key Stage 4


What happens on completion of Key Stage 4?


By the end of KS4 students have completed their compulsory education in England and Wales. At this point can decide whether they wish to leave or continue their education. If they choose to continue they move into Key Stage 5 (KS5).


How are GCSEs graded?


Most students in Key Stage 4 take GCSEs; 2018 was the first year that the full new grading GCSE results system was applied to most subjects, as opposed to only 3 in 2017. By 2020 all subjects will be measured using the levels 9-1 with 9 being the highest level and 1 the lowest.

However, there are vocational alternatives to GCSEs knowns as BTECs and the lesser well known OCR Cambridge Nationals. Both offer more practical approaches and furnish students with the skills they need to either go straight out to work or continue studying.


You can find information about Key Stage 1 here, Key Stage 2 here and Key Stage 3 here.


You can find a selection of our secondary jobs hereĀ and UK teachers and teaching assistants can pre-register with us here and overseas staff here.