Secondary School vs. High School: Know The Difference!

Secondary School Vs High School

There are so many terms for the different parts of the education journey that it can be confusing to understand them. These terms differ across countries, making the issue even more baffling.

Broadly speaking, a child’s school journey can be divided into three parts: kindergarten, primary, and secondary school. Each of these parts has its relevance and importance. Done well, each part of the journey flows seamlessly into the next, equipping the child with enough knowledge and skill to lead a well-adjusted life. Besides academic knowledge, the school journey also needs to equip the child with a range of life skills that help him or her navigate the ups and downs of life with finesse.

While most people know what primary school consists of, there is often a lot of confusion about what secondary and high school consist of. Let us examine both closely and try to understand the differences.

Typically, primary school is followed by what is largely known as secondary school. However, there are differences across countries. In some regions, “secondary school” refers to grades 6 to 12 and encompasses both middle and high school. In others, “high school” refers to the last stage of secondary education, grades 11 and 12.

Let us look at some country-specific examples:

  • In the US, grades 6-8 are referred to as middle school, while grades 9-12 comprise high school.
  • The UK has two levels of secondary schooling, Lower Secondary and Upper Secondary, for ages 12 to 16 and 16 to 18, respectively.
  • In India, grades 6-10 count as Secondary School, while what high school means in India is grades 11-12. It is also often referred to as Senior Secondary.

While there are country-wise differences, Secondary School essentially comprises grades 6-12, while High School can largely be said to comprise grades 9-12 or, in some cases, grades 11 and 12 specifically.

High school marks the child’s transition to college or university, where they can major in a field of their choice. Students can also opt for vocational education or diploma courses that lead them to their preferred careers.

Sometimes, after High School, students can be seen taking a gap year. This gap year could be taken to prepare for competitive exams that could lead them to their preferred career. Alternatively, students could take a gap year to think about what career they want to pursue while using the year gainfully to enhance their skills, undertake community service, or even travel across the world.

There could also be instances of students joining the workforce right after high school.

Therefore, children after High School have a wide range of options. Choosing the desired path really depends on their individual preferences and capabilities.

What is the overall role of secondary education?

Overall, Secondary Education is the bridge that prepares students for the journey ahead. It aids children not just in their academic journey but also sees them through their mental and emotional growth and prepares them for the rigors of higher education and life. While in secondary school, children also learn essential life skills such as critical thinking, effective communication, coping with stress, dealing with emotions, and more. These are times when children are experiencing a whole lot of changes- be it in terms of their physicality, attraction towards the opposite sex, and more. Life skills learned during this stage come in extremely handy to be able to navigate themselves.

Other than this, by the time children graduate from the high school part of secondary education, they also get to make choices in terms of the subjects they want to study. In India, for instance, having studied all subjects till grade 10, they get to choose subjects when they enter the phase of higher secondary education. Some students are pursuing the sciences, while others prefer commerce or humanities. These are essential decisions that, by and large, lay the ground for what areas the children are likely to specialize in during their university years.

overall role of secondary education


Finally, secondary school, exceptionally high school, is the last rung of school education, beyond which students leap into a larger world with a set of freedoms and responsibilities. The end of high school typically marks the end of a disciplined student life that is marked with a lot of discipline. While college offers students far greater freedom, it also comes with responsibilities. The self-discipline the child teaches during the school years stands him or her in good stead in later life.

At Pragyanam, one of the best CBSE schools in Gurgaon, we offer quality education till high school or what is referred to as senior secondary. Our emphasis is not just on academic excellence but also on imparting life skills to students and their holistic growth and development.

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June 2024