One large (I think) cultural difference between the U.S. and the UK is the educational systems. It occurs to me that, although I have heard you speak of differences in your various comments, I have never really delved into it that deeply. Maybe someone can clarify. Don't worry about comparisons right now - I just want an over view of the British general system. Let me give you an overview of the U.S. system, as I know it anyway, and someone can then do the same thing with the British system.
In the U.S. (and here I am talking about the public schools, not private schools) a child goes through 12 "grades", one per year. Often the school year is 9 months long, with summers off. I think this is a throwback to days when children were needed to do farm work in the summertime. Many school systems also offer Kindergarten, frequently only half days. In that case, the child would begin school at age 5 rather than age 6. Of course, there is also "pre-school" in some communities as well. But, basically, before University, one is talking about a 12-grade/12-year course of instruction.
Generally, the children attend different schools, depending on how old they are. For example, grades 1-6 are most often called "Elementary School." Some cities (notably New York) call them "Primary schools" and name their school buildings simply "PS #23", etc. Elsewhere, it is common to name the Elementary school after some important person's name, often a U.S. President, for example. A child begins to learn how to read immediately, in first grade or even before. Parents are, of course, encouraged to teach the child letters and letter sounds before he enters school.
Probably this is would be similar to your schools, but perhaps you don't call them Elementary Schools. And perhaps you don't number the grades, or even call them grades.
Since this is a pretty large area I want to try to learn about, I'm going to stop right here for the first post, and get whatever feedback and descriptions you care to give. After Elemenatry School (or "Grade School") the child advances to Junior High School and then on to High School. Sometimes Junior High School is replaced by something called a "Middle School" where grades 6, 7, and 8 are taught (rather than simply grades 7 and 8 as in a traditional Junior High School.) After High School comes University or a trade school or nothing more.
Of course I also seek comments from Americans and others as well. You may enlarge upon what I have said about the American system. But please, if you are British, tell me about your school system, starting with the younger children. Thanks.