A primary school or elementary school is a school in which children receive primary or elementary education from the age of about five to twelve, coming before secondary school and after preschool. It is the first stage of compulsory education in most parts of the world, and is normally available without charge, but may be offered in a fee-paying independent school. The term grade school is sometimes used in the US though this term may refer to both primary education and secondary education.
The term primary school is derived from the French école primaire, which was first used in 1802.
- Primary school is the preferred term in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth Nations, and in most publications of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
- Elementary school is preferred in some countries, especially in the United States and Canada.
In the United States, "primary school" may refer to a school with grades Kindergarten through second grade or third grade. (K-2 or 3). In these municipalities, the "elementary school" includes grade three through five or grades four to six.
In some places, primary schooling has historically further been divided between lower primary schools (LP schools), which were the elementary schools, and higher primary schools (HP schools), which were established to provide a more practical instruction to poorer classes than what was provided in the secondary schools.
- "Online Etymology Dictionary".
- Primary school. In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved on 12 June 2007, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://search.eb.com/eb/article-9061377
- Bruce Ryburn Payne, Public Elementary School Curricula: A Comparative Study of Representative Cities of the United States, England, Germany and France (1905), p. 155.