What is secondary school?

Having passed the first educational milestone, primary education, elementary school students embark on a journey through the depths of the world of learning. Their next destination is a secondary school with all its difficulties and joys.

Roughly speaking, secondary school is something in between the already acquired basic knowledge of elementary school and the future immersion in higher education. It’s a place where students study various disciplines, get to know the world around them through the prism of various occupations and activities, become aware of themselves as individuals, and decide who they want to become in the future and what field they will devote themselves to.

What is a secondary school and its purposes?

Long story short, secondary school (also called high or middle school in different countries) is a place where people learn skills that are essential in daily life. It is the next stage after elementary school that is intended for students in the age of 12 to 18.

Secondary education, without any doubt, has its own objectives; let us consider some of them first. What can it be?

Individual and social growth.

Secondary school is not mainly aimed at acquiring academic knowledge. Still, it pays much attention to developing students’ personalities, growing their abilities to communicate, interact with others, develop their leadership qualities, and prepare them for adulthood.

Teens discover their main strengths and weaknesses in this period of life; they face various difficulties and try to solve them alone.

Academic preparation.

Although it seems that secondary school is more about giving experience and developing life skills, in the same way, it develops in students their analytical and critical thinking, teaching them more advanced concepts in comparison with primary school. It paves the way for the following educational degrees.

Career choices.

The foundation on the way to choosing a profession is built precisely in high school. Here people get acquainted with different careers; they understand what area is the most fascinating for them and where they would like to work in the future.

What is the structure of secondary school?

Secondary schools differ from country to country altogether with their structure. However, they have some things in common. The secondary school encompasses a range of grade levels, typically from 6th or 7th grade to 10th, 11th, or 12th grade, depending on the educational system in a particular country. Moreover, the grading system also differs; its grading scales can include letter or numerical marks (100-point, 12-point, 10-point, 5-point).

While studying in high school, teens visit diverse classes focusing on specific subjects.

Some schools provide core and elective courses that students can choose in order to their preferences and interests; others have only core ones. For instance, there are subjects like math, languages, science, art, physical education, etc.

Last but not least, a minor thing in its structure is that extracurricular activities are available for students, such as clubs, cultural events, student organizations, sports teams, and so on. They help to develop leadership qualities and contribute to social interactions and personal growth.

How do secondary schools vary in different countries?

Finally, let us take a look at the differences between secondary schools in various countries.

In the United States of America, secondary schools are mostly divided into two different institutions: middle school from 6th to 8th grade and high school from 9th to 12th grade included.

At the same time, in European countries, the general structure of secondary education is similar, but the specific names, durations, and educational systems can vary from place to place. For example, some countries have integrated secondary schools encompassing both lower and upper secondary education under one institution, while others may have separate schools for each stage.

In the European educational system, lower secondary education usually covers grades 7 to 9 or 10, while upper secondary education encompasses grades 10 or 11 to 12 or 13.

In China, secondary schools also provide education to students between the age of 12 to 18 years. But the names of it are a little different; it consists of junior and senior secondary schools.

Summing up, secondary education is almost similar worldwide, even though it has some differences in names, period ranges, educational approaches, and the examination process.


Ultimately, secondary education is a vital stage in students’ life; it forms and develops the shape of their personal, academic, and social success. It offers students various activities and curriculums, allowing them to test their limits, discover their interests and passions, learn to interact with peers and enjoy this remarkable period in life.

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