School education in the Great Britain
Studying the system of education in Britain. Descriptions of English school syllabus. The elementary education in the Great Britain. Features of infant and junior schools. Analysis the categories of comprehensive academy, private and higher education.
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Theme: School education in the Great Britain
Done by: Nureden Adia
Chekked by: Khismetova Aiman
1. School in Great Britain
School-children attend a primary school for 6 years. When students transfer to Secondary School at the age of 11, they do not take any examination, but their reports are sent on from the Primary School. Secondary School. Most children go to a comprehensive school. “Comprehensive” means all-inclusive. They admit pupils of all abilities. But there are also “grammar school” and “secondary-modern schools”.
The pupils have to pass an exam to go there. Grammar school-a school for children over the age of 11, who are specially chosen to study for examinations which may lead to higher education. Secondary-modern school-a schools for children over the age of 11, who are not expected to go on to higher study later. All types of secondary schools have the 5-year courses for pupils from 11 years up to the school leaving age.
Pupils in all state schools in England and Wales study 10 main subjects: Core subjects: English, mathematics, science; Foundation subjects: history, geography, a modern language, (art, craft and design), music, information technology, physical education. Religious education is also taught. Attainment tests are given at the ages of 7, 11 and 14, 16. At the end of a 5-year courses, at the age of 16, students sit the General Certificate of Secondary Education exams in as many subjects as possible. At the age of 16 about two-thirds of these pupils leave school and get job or apprenticeships. About one-third stays on at school until the age of 18, preparing themselves for higher education.
The 6th Form. More ambitious pupils continue to study in the 6th form. They stay on at school for one or two years to prepare themselves for university. They have only three or four main subjects which are necessary to pass to advanced level exams at the age of 18. the school year is divided into three terms with the intervals between them during the Christmas and Easter holidays lasting about two weeks each and the summer holidays which begins rather late and is usually six weeks long. All kinds of out-of-class activities are part of school life in Britain. Students have a lot of opportunities for playing sports, attending different clubs and singing in a choir. Most schools have very good libraries which students use for reference work.
Education is a highly topical issue in Britain since it affects nearly everybody. Everyone has at one stage of their lives attended school and after all it is there where people acquired their first long-time friends, developed their social personalities and gained a lasting sense of a communal identity. Governments both Labour and Conservative have always influenced the education system according to their believes and so the discussion around that controversial topic 'education' never finds an end. In this essay I want to briefly characterise the British school system and explain its historic development. By pointing out the most important innovations and achievements I try to make clear how this system changed and what impact this had on the present situation. A look into the future of British education will conclude my essay.
Schooling in Great Britain has evolved over time as a result of both state and private systems. The state offers primary and secondary education for ages five to eleven or eleven to eighteen respectively. A few middle schools for children aged ten to thirteen and some 'special schools' for pupils with learning difficulties round off the state system. State schools in Britain are non-denominational. Of the state-supported schools with a religious affiliation the majority are Anglican, but other denominations of schools exist, mainly Roman Catholic and Jewish.
Their capital expenditure is covered by the state and their running expenses are paid by the members of the referent congregations.
The private sector, for the people who can afford it, offers education for the same age groups as the state system in the 'prepatory schools' from the age of five and the 'public schools' from the age of thirteen. The misleading term 'public schools' originally referred to a grammar school endowed for the public but is nowadays used for private secondary schools like Eton, Harrow or Winchester which are still open for the public but of course only for that part of the public that can afford the relatively high school fees.
Under the reign of the Tudors the first attempts were made to introduce a school system in England; the monarchs covered the land with grammar schools. Before that, only church cared about education in their cathedral and Protestant schools as education was not regarded as a prior duty of state. The situation, however, did not much improve because of the Tudors' innovations; schools were unevenly spread over the country and their presence often depended less on need in the locality than on the fortuitous piety of some local grandee. There was no assumption that every town should have a grammar school or that every village should have an elementary school. Furthermore, it was never assumed that every child should attend any educational institution at any time in their lives.
2. Education in G. B
While for a minority of middle-class and upper-class families adequate education was normally provided within the families, literacy had to be bought elsewhere by the majority of the population. By the beginning of the nineteenth century a vast number of private establishments were founded which spread basic literacy and numeracy among a great number of the population. Many of the old-established grammar schools began to be refurbished by enterprising headmasters who dropped the schools' local connections in order to attract a clientele from all over the country. Some of them were superbly endowed and offered good education but only for the highest levels of society that could pay for their children's education.
Not even by 1830, when finally the first state subsidies for elementary education were paid, any part of the British Isles could be said to have an adequate system even of part-time state education of a type that had already been established in most Western European countries. Schooling was to be understood in a very limited sense: many of the children attended school only for certain hours on certain days and there was not at all that commitment to a single institution which has characterised schooling in recent years. The British government was very much involved in the adoption of European models for new state-subsidised schooling throughout the British Isles.
The Elementary Education Act of 1870 then extended the class-divided system through the creation of School Boards. Yet, the progress was slow as only elementary education was supervised by the governmental boards. Furthermore, schooling was still organised largely on lines of social class - the elementary schools were intended primarily for the working classes and the secondary schools for the middle classes. Many rich families chose to educate their children privately at home rather than sending them to a state-school which they regarded as not good enough for them. britain education school private
As a result of the desire for more equality the 1902 Education Act replaced the old smaller school boards by new local authorities which were enabled to develop grammar schools of their own and to fund able working-class pupils according to the 'Free Place Regulations'. Yet, the intended educational ladder for every gifted child was in most cases only illusionary since
the regulations provided only free tuition. The other costs of books or the school uniform had to be met by the families who very often refused sending their children, who they needed as a workforce, to secondary schools.
In the 1920ies, the Labour party started a number of campaigns in order to achieve more equality in the education system. The percentage of free places in secondary schools was increased from 25 to 40 for the able few and part-time continuation schooling to the age of eighteen for the majority was introduced. Secondary schooling was made more attractive to working class students through the provision of variation in the type of secondary schools.
The motto 'Selection by elimination' which stands for a class-based system was replaced by the motto 'Selection by discrimination' when in 1922 the 'eleven-plus examination' was introduced. Pupils would be examined at the age of eleven as a means of discovering their aptitudes and abilities. The eleven-plus examination, based on studies on child psychology about adolescence, was the transitional break between primary and secondary education. Those who passed the test at the end of primary school had their fees paid at the local grammar school, those who could not gain high marks in the examination or could not pay the fee were excluded from grammar school and had to attend secondary modern school. Children who were not successful in the test were very often labelled 'failures' at the age of eleven which led to a loss of ambition, achievement and self-esteem. Although the eleven-plus examination was very controversial, the discussion in the pre- and interwar years centred mainly around the school-leaving age and so this practice was carried on for a number of years.
With a lot of idealism and optimism the 1944 Education Act finally introduced free secondary education for all within a reorganised education structure of continuous stages. Still, the places in grammar school were fiercely embattled by working-class children. According to the belief that education should serve as preparation for work parental pressure demanded the increase in grammar school places with their access to administrative professions and Britain mainly turned away from technical schools. At the same time, the image of the secondary modern school, where the children of non-manual workers were much under-represented and the children of manual and workers over-represented, had to be reinforced. The support for a national system of comprehensive schools as a means of ending the class-based tripartite system grew.
'Multilateral schools' was the new magic word which should solve all the problems in secondary education at once. These schools, intended to cater for the secondary education of all the children in a given area, including the three main elements of secondary education, that is modern, technical and grammar, should create for the first time the common social and cultural background that is the basis of a democratic community. With the fall of the Labour Government in 1951, the common school issue began to emerge as a matter which divided the political parties.
No agreement was achieved until in 1964 Labour returned to office. Three kinds of arguments were then advanced in support of a national system of comprehensive schools. Firstly, selection at the age of eleven was regarded as socially unjust in the sense that it discriminated against slow developers. Secondly, one believed that a common school would reduce the sense of social division and increase the sense of social cohesion. Thirdly, it was stressed that the nation's economy would benefit from the improved understanding and communication between classes.
Despite support for a mixed system, the move towards a national system of comprehensive schools made headway. This is due to a wide range of people, not only Labour party voters, supporting the vague idea of more educational opportunity as they believed in a better society based upon equal value and a common culture. Pupils of different capabilities should share the same classroom in the belief that the bright would help the weak and that social development would improve. Although the short-lived 1976 Education Act introduced a common system of comprehensive schools, a common culture could only have been achieved in theory since the differences of the selective system were often preserved in the first generation of common schools, and even later.
The whole system was not well enough thought out as the selective, fee-charging grammar schools which received their grants directly from central government were left in an extremely vulnerable position. They were a thorn in many people's side because of their exclusivity and were given the choice of either going comprehensive or forgoing State aid and becoming fully independent. Schools were put under pressure and urged to enter the maintained system. Only the 1988 Education Act brought some relaxation as it reintroduced direct-grant schools in a modified form.
The 1988 Education Act was the last major reformation of the school system in the last years. It was introduced under a Conservative government and includes a number of innovations. The most important one is without a doubt the introduction of a basic curriculum, the National curriculum, which all schools have to implement. It contains three core subjects, mathematics, English and science, and seven foundation subjects which must be taught. Parents should be given the maximum information about the programmes their children are following, and regular reports on their progress. Therefore a scheme consisting of a formative assessment drawing heavily on teachers' observations and of standardised assessment tasks which ought to be taken at ages seven, eleven and fourteen was set up. The assessment of the various components would then be put together to form the complete assessment of the pupil's progress. The major public exams are the General Certificate in Secondary Education (GCSE) at age sixteen and Advanced (A-Levels) at age eighteen enabling school-leavers to go to university. About 23 per cent of the pupils usually become students at universities and colleges.
Along with the government's radical economic policies after a deeply depressing period of economic decline structural reforms that would increase parental choice and make the education system respond to the principle of competition and market forces were taken up. Periodically, league tables of schools' performances were published to encourage competition among schools. By education vouchers which parents could exchange for free education at any school of their choice, the power of decision-making was put in the hand of the consumer. Apart from that, teacher training was overhauled, and a new teachers' contract as well as an appraisal scheme for teachers were introduced. The structure of institutions which have been set up and which have evolved since the end of World War II were radically torn down.
Nowadays it is again Labour that is in power. Today's prime minister Tony Blair has very much stressed the issue of education in his 1996 election campaign but Britain still waits for the promised innovations to come. Quite a number of problems are still unsolved. There is, for instance, the need for a broader curriculum than the National curriculum which became increasingly costly to maintain and which neither satisfies head teachers nor parents. Stressing the so-called 'useful subjects' as it is done in the current curriculum is not necessarily the best thing to do since it very likely leads to a decline in the love of poetry, drama, literature, music and the arts. In view of the many examinations and tests English children have to take during their school careers a lot of people fear that the whole education process could become mechanical and sterile.
It will be very important to return to schools some of the power they had at the beginning of the State secondary education. Headmasters are more and more becoming school managers
rather than pedagogical directors. The head teachers of the nineties will need to develop the powers of a businessperson, those of communication, publicity and persuasion. It is true that Public schools and fee-charging private schools are now respected in some way by the 1988 Education Act but they still do not have an adequate place within the education system. To find a way to fully integrate these institutions into the school system is also a very important task to be fulfilled within the next years.
Teachers are highly dissatisfied over their working conditions and the non-recognition of the various duties they fulfil. Valuing education means valuing teachers, union leaders demand. If the quality of education is to be raised, concerned teachers say, then both physical and human resources must be given to it. Since Great Britain spends a lower proportion of its national income on education than do most of its developed neighbours reforms here are absolutely necessary.
Without a doubt a lot of things have changed since the introduction of the first schools about 500 years ago, some for the worse, most of them for the better. Yet, since education is very important for a country's character and development it ought to be developed further and must not be neglected by all the people aiming at a 'new Britain'. They should not forget the educational side when introducing reforms and innovations because in the end it is all about educating our children, that is educating our future.
1. Bell, Robert and Nigel Grant, Patterns Of Education On The British Isles. London 1977.
2. Brooks, Ron, Contemporary Debates In Education: An Historical Perspective. London 1991.
3. Graves, Norman, The Education Crisis: Which Way Now? London 1988.
4. Maclure, Stuart, Education Re-Formed. Kent 1988.
5. Storry, Mike, Education, work and leisure. In: Peter Childs and Mike Storry (eds.) British Cultural Identities. London 1997.
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