Here's for France:
(schooling is obligatory for children aged 6 to 16)
- The year they turn 3 (school starts in September) they start preschool for 3 years, little, middle and big section. There's now a very-little (two years old) section so a kid might spend 4 years in preschool depending on their birthdate (and maturity I guess).
- Then there's primary school, 5 years that are considered split in 2 cycles, first cycle of two years, second cycle the last 3 years. Quite frankly appart from teachers I bet no one talks about the cycles. They don't have numbers (like first,second.. grade) but names (CP, CE1,CE2,CM1,CM2, they stand for preparatory course, elementary course one and two, medium course one and two
- Middle school (what we call college), 4 years, and just to go against the grain they go: 6th form, 5th, 4th, 3rd
. At the end of the third grade (9th grade for the rest of the world) you pass your Brevet, a national diploma that doesn't mean much anymore (a 100 years ago many kids would stop their schooling there so it was their way to prove reading/writing/mathematics... level).
- Lycée/High school, 3 years. 2nd, 1st and Terminal. In 1st (11th grade) you choose between Literary, science, Economic & Social section, that will determine the Baccalaureate (diploma) you'll have to pass in Terminal. There's a core knowledge for stuff like languages and sciences and each section has more advanced classes in their subjects.
There's a few options depending on the establishments, Arts, Advanced secondary language...or
- Professional Lycée, 3 years also, is already geared towards a trade, but it's often the "last/default choice" of those that didn't do well in middle school (middle school can either say pass (to highschool), pass but to technological (or repeat if the student doesn't want to go to a professional highschool), or fail and repeat).or
- Technological lycée, 3 years also, is even more geared towards a trade and is more stringent, more of a personal choice than Technological. It's the difference between knowing you want to be a chef (go to tech) or don't really know what you want to do with your life, cooking's ok I guess (go to pro).
They can achieve a first diploma in 2 years and/or go for a second diploma after the third year.
There's now a bridge possible between their diploma and getting into the university to get a license/further ed.
- University, open to all (age wise). Licence in 3 years, Master in 5, Doctorate in 8 (medical Doctorate in 11 depending on specialisation).
- higher education schools, either public or private.
So for a basic student:
- 3 to 5 (y/old): preschool (3 years)
- 6 to 10: elementary, 5 years, correspond to grade 1 to 5.
- 11 to 14: middle school, 4 years, correspond to grade 6 to 9
- 15 to 17: high school, 3 years, correspond to grade 10 to 12, ends with getting the Bac - High school diploma.
ETA - I eddited a few things after talking with my mother (who teachs in a highschool) because I had them backward (between the pro and tech highschool -