British system of Education – Compulsory school attendance
All children and young people between the ages of 5 and 16 must get fulltime education. State schools work from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m. The school day generally starts at 9 a.m. During the longer morning there is a break known as play time by younger children. It is usual to have an hour for lunch and most schools provide hot meals and snacks. All lessons stop for an hour and many extra-curricular activities take place during this time. The afternoon has fewer lessons. The schools use a 3-term pattern: Autumn Term = September – Christmas, Spring Term = January – Easter, Summer Term = Easter – July. They have usually six weeks off in summer and some holidays during the school year (at Christmas, Easter and Whit sun).
It is compulsory for all towns to provide pre-school provisions to allow mother to go out to work. These may be privately owned or establishment by the borough. Pre-school establishments are crèches for children from an early age up to their third year, and kindergartens for children aged 3-5 years.
Infant School (age 5-7) and junior Schools (age 7-11) are Primary Schools and are frequently in same building
The government introduced a new scheme called the National curriculum to colleges and gives parents more possibilities to choose the school. In Scotland the system is slightly different. Subjects taught at schools are given by this National Curriculum: English, maths, science, technology, history, geography, music, art, P.E., foreign languages (at age 11-16) and optional religious education or technical and vocational education.
G.B. used to have two types of secondary schools: Grammar Schools and Secondary Modern Schools but now most children go to one type of school. The Comprehensive Schools. G.B. does not have special art or music schools or apprehensive or vocational schools. Secondary Schools for children aged 11-16 years are called High Schools. Further Education for children aged 16-18 years is provided in VI Form Colleges. Most British secondary schools have about 750 pupils.
Children have to take tests four times in their school lives. These are called Key Sages:
KS 1: Pupils aged 7 are tested in reading, writing and basic mathematics
KS 2: Pupils aged 11 in the final are of junior school are given tests in several subjects.
KS 3: Pupils aged 14 in the third year of high schools are given tests in English, mathematics, and some science
KS 4: Pupils aged 16 in their final year must take exams called GCSE (the General Certificate of Secondary Education). This examination used to be called Ordinary Level (“O” level). The pupils sit their GCSE exams in 3 compulsory subjects and their other options (usually 5).
All exams are marked on scale of A – G with an extra U for unclassified. By tradition grades A, B, C are considered to be passes and D, E, F, G failures. It is in these results that students apply for places in VI Form Colleges. VI Form Colleges run two-year courses. Some insist that students take “General studies” which includes nearly everything – politics, art, science, economy, social studies etc. At the age of 18 students take their exams called Advanced Level (“A” level). The students opt for (choose) 3 subjects. The marking is a points system, which allows students to get a place at university. The higher the student’s number of points the better university he or she can attend. (For grade A the student gains 5 points, for B – 4 points, C- 3 points, D – 2 points and E- 1 points. Grade F and G are failures. A very good university requires 18 points).
More then a third of young people receive some form of post-school education. About one seventh of 18 years olds enter full-time higher education courses at universities, polytechnics and other publicly funded colleges. Those who do not want to study at universities can be trained in nursing, law, banking and accountancy or in manufacturing or service industry.Independent Schools
In G.B. are called “Public Schools”. These schools are not public at all. They are private secondary schools taking boys from the ages 13 to18 years of age. These schools, with a few exceptions, are boy’s boarding schools, that is, they provide accommodation for their pupils. The fees of a public school are very high indeed and only wealthy parents are able to send their children to public school. There are about 200 public schools in England. The four best-known public schools are Eton College(close to Windsor on the Thames) – founded in 1400, Harrow School (London) – 1571, Winchester College (Hampshire) – 1382, Rugby School (Warwickshire) – 1561. Most public schools are very old and are called by the name of the town or village in which they are situated. Every public school has many rules and special customs of its own but the basic characteristics are the same. A typical public school has about 500 boys but some of them have more (Eaton has 1.150 pupils). Thought the teaching is organized centrally for the school as a whole the boys live in separate “houses”, i.e. groups of about 50 and are under the care of the housemaster and his wife. The boys remain in the same house for the whole of their stay at school. The boys attending a public school must wear a special uniform, which consist of a grey shirt with a coloured cap or a straw hat with a coloured ribbon. In some schools each house has own cap and its own tie. These schools are usually well-equipped with scientific laboratories, large sports groups, a good gymnasium and a swimming pool. Much attention is paid to sport. Boys play football and cricket or row on a nearby river or go out running or play some other game on most days on the week.
The majority of Britain school children wear a school uniform. Sometimes this is very formal: a shirt, tie, jacket with a school badge on the pocket and dark trousers. Girls also wear ties but a dark skirt instead of trousers even in winter. Each school has its school colour. Some schools send children home if they are not wearing their proper uniform or keep them a after school as a punishment.
British schools do a lot of sport, pupils all have one afternoon a week of P.E and school have football, netball, hockey and cricket teams. There are also school choirs, drama club, chess club art clubs and other activities. These are all called extra-curricular because they are not part of the National Curriculum.
Universities and Colleges
Depending on the parents income students may receive grants of money to assist them during their time at university. A popular form of a degree course is four year one. The first two years are spent in University, the third year is spent in job connected with the course and the last year is back in University for studying and the examinations. Every university has its Union, which organized many social functions. The academic award is called a degree and I at Bachelor level. It may be a Bachelor of Arts (B.A), a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) and a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.). The title is put after a name. Undergraduates are those students who study for a degree of Bachelor. Students with degrees B.A., B.Sc. or B.Ed. are called graduates and can study further to get the degree of Master. They must work on thesis at least for one year. The title they get then are M.A., M.Sc., and M.Ed. The degree of Doctor is given only for a thesis, which originally contributes to human knowledge.
There are 47 universities in G.B. They can be divided into three groups:
a) Oxford and Cambridge or “Oxbridge” – they are oldest and the most famous. Oxford was founded in 12th century and Cambridge in 13th century.
b) Redbrick Universities, which were founded in the 19th century (Durham, London, Manchester). These schools provided some technological training in industrial areas.
c) The new Universities – opened after 1960 (Sussex, York, Kent and others).