A secondary school describes an institution that provides secondary education and also usually includes the building where this takes place. Some secondary schools provide both lower secondary education (age 12 to 15) and upper secondary education (age 15 to 18) i.e. levels 2 and 3 of the ISCED scale, but these can also be provided in separate schools, as in the American middle and high school system. In the UK, elite public schools typically admit pupils between the ages of 13 and 18. UK state schools accommodate pupils between the ages of 11-16 or 11-18.
Secondary schools follow on from primary schools and prepare for vocational or tertiary education. Attendance is usually compulsory for students until age 16. The organisations, buildings, and terminology are more or less unique in each country.
Within the English-speaking world, there are three widely used systems to describe the age of the child. The first is the 'equivalent ages'; then countries that base their education systems on the 'English model' use one of two methods to identify the year group, while countries that base their systems on the 'American K-12 model' refer to their year groups as 'grades'. The Irish model is structured similarly to the English model, but have significant differences in terms of labels. This terminology extends into the research literature. Below is a convenient comparison 
Schools exist within a strict legal framework, where they may be answerable to the church, the state through local authorities and their stakeholders. In England (but necessarily in other parts of the United Kingdom) there are six general types of state funded schools running in parallel to the private sector. The state takes an interest in safeguarding issues in all schools. All state-funded schools in England are legally required to have a website where they must publish details of their governance, finance, curriculum intent and staff and pupil protection policies to comply with ' The School Information (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 and 2016 '. Ofsted monitors these.
School building design does not happen in isolation. The building (or school campus) needs to accommodate:
Each country will have a different education system and priorities. Schools need to accommodate students, staff, storage, mechanical and electrical systems, support staff, ancillary staff and administration. The number of rooms required can be determined from the predicted roll of the school and the area needed.
According to standards used in the United Kingdom, a general classroom for 30 students needs to be 55 m2, or more generously 62 m2. A general art room for 30 students needs to be 83 m2, but 104 m2 for 3D textile work. A drama studio or a specialist science laboratory for 30 needs to be 90 m2. Examples are given on how this can be configured for a 1,200 place secondary (practical specialism). and 1,850 place secondary school.
The building providing the education has to fulfill the needs of: The students, the teachers, the non-teaching support staff, the administrators and the community. It has to meet general government building guidelines, health requirements, minimal functional requirements for classrooms, toilets and showers, electricity and services, preparation and storage of textbooks and basic teaching aids. An optimum secondary school will meet the minimum conditions and will have:
Government accountants having read the advice then publish minimum guidelines on schools. These enable environmental modelling and establishing building costs. Future design plans are audited to ensure that these standards are met but not exceeded. Government ministries continue to press for the 'minimum' space and cost standards to be reduced.
The UK government published this downwardly revised space formula in 2014. It said the floor area should be 1050m2 (+ 350m2 if there is a sixth form) + 6.3m2/pupil place for 11- to 16-year-old's + 7m2/pupil place for post-16s. The external finishes were to be downgraded to meet a build cost of £1113/m2.
A secondary school locally may be called high school or senior high school. In some countries there are two phases to secondary education (ISCED 2) and (ISCED 3), here the junior high school, intermediate school, lower secondary school, or middle school occurs between the primary school (ISCED 1) and high school.