Life at SchoolCategory: Educational System
Three Terms. Breaks and Holidays. Bell Times. The School Building. School Uniform. Punishments and Rewards
The school year is divided into terms, three months each, named after seasons: autumn term, winter term and spring term.
The autumn term starts on the first Tuesday morning in September. In July schools break up for eight weeks.
Life at school is more or less similar everywhere. Each group of 30 pupils is the responsibility of a form tutor. Each schoolday is divided into periods of 40—50 minutes, time for various lessons with 10 — 20 minutes’ breaks between them. It might be interesting for you to see the “Bell Times” at Lawnswood school in Leeds.
8.40 a.m. – School begins
8.45 a.m.— Registration
8.50 a.m.— Assembly bell
9.00 a.m.— Pupils move to lessons
9.05 a.m.—Lesson 1
9.45 a.m.— Lesson 2
10.25 a.m.— Lesson 3
11.05 a.m.— Break
11.25 a.m.—Pupils move to lessons
11.30 a.m.—Lesson 4
12.10 p.m.— Lesson 5
12.50 p.m.— Lunch time
1.40 p.m.— Afternoon school begins
1.45 p.m.— Registration
1.50 p.m.—Lesson 6
2.30 p.m.— Lesson 7
3.10 p.m.—End of normal lessons
3.10 p.m.—Start of additional lessons, clubs, societies, team practices, detentions, etc.
On important occasions such as end of term or national holiday, called in English schools speech-days pupils are gathered in assembly area or hall.
Most of pupils’ time is spent in a classroom equipped with desks and a blackboard, nowadays often called chalk board because normally it is brown or green. The desks are arranged in rows, the space between the rows is called an aisle.
In addition to classrooms there are laboratories for Physics, Chemis try and Biology. Technical rooms are for Woodwork, Metalwork, Technical Drawing. There are rooms for computer studies. Many young people use them for school exercises. They are now able to write their own games as well. The Physical Education lessons are conducted at the gymnasium, games-hall or at the playground in front of the school building. There are also language laboratories and housecraft rooms. Every school has a library and a school canteen. In student common room boys and girls can relax during the breaks and lunchtime. Staff common room is for teachers. In case of illness a schoolchild may go to the sick room.
Pupils at most secondary schools in Britain have to wear a school uniform. This usually means a white blouse for girls (perhaps with a tie), with a dark-coloured skirt and pullover. Boys wear a shirt and tie, dark trousers and dark-coloured pullovers. Pupils also wear blazers— a kind of jacket —with the school badge on the pocket. They of ten have to wear some kind of hat on the way to and from school — caps for boys, and berets or some other kind of hat for girls. Shoes are usually black or brown. And no high heels!
Young people in Britain often don’t like their school uniform, especially the hats and shoes. Sometimes they do not wear the right clothes.
Schools will often give them a warning the first time that this happens but then will punish them if they continue not to wear the correct uniform. Senior students don’t have to wear their school uniform.
It sounds logical to say that the school’s function is to train a pupil’s mind and his character should be formed at home. Teachers would be pleased if the problem could be solved so easily. But children don’t leave their characters at home when their minds go to school. Many of them have personality problems of one kind or another.
The pupils who violate various school regulations may be punished in the following ways: for lateness, truancy they may be reported to the Headmaster or named in school assembly. They may be detained in school after ordinary hours.
Corporal punishment has been recently banned in state schools. But in most public schools it is still allowed. Caning is the usual punishment for serious misbehaviour in class, damage and vandalism. Many teachers remark that standards of discipline have fallen since corporal punishment was banned by the government.
You may want to know whether there are any rewards and prizes for the best pupils. Of course, there are. Each school has its system of rewards: medals and prizes
Public Schools — for Whom?
Preparatory Schools. Common Entrance. Public Schools. The Old School Tie. Educating the Ruling Class
About 5 per cent of children are educated privately in what is rather confusingly called public schools. These are the schools for the privileged. There are about 500 public schools in England and Wales, most of them single-sex. About half of them are for girls.
The schools, such as Eton, Harrow, Rugby and Winchester, are famous for their ability to lay foundation of a successful future by giving their pupils self-confidence, the right accent, a good academic background and, perhaps most important of all, the right friends and contacts. The children who went to one of the public schools never call themselves school-leavers. They talk about “the old school tie and “the old boy network”. They are just old boys or old girls. The fees are high and only very rich families can afford to pay so much. Public schools educate the ruling class of England. One of such schools is Gordonstoun which Prince of Wales, the elder son of the Queen, left in 1968. Harrow School is famous as the place where Winston Churchill was educated, as well as six other Prime Ministers of England, the poet Lord Byron, the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan and many other prominent people.
Public schools are free from state control. They are independent. Most of them are boarding schools. The education is of a high quality; the discipline is very strict. The system of education is the same: the most able go ahead.
These schools accept pupils from the preparatory schools at about 11 or 13 years of age usually on the basis of an examination, known as Common Entrance. There are three sittings of Common Entrance every year in February, June and November. Scholarships are rarely awarded on the results of Common Entrance. The fundamental requirements are very high. At 18 most public school-leavers gain entry to universities.
Social, Cultural and Sporting Life
School Council. Boy Scouts. Girl Guides. Cadets. YCND
Each school or sixth-form college has its School or College Council. It helps to plan the policy for the whole school. It organizes the social and cultural life at the school.
School Councils in many schools and colleges are chaired by a student and have a majority of student members. They run discos and parties, stage drama productions and decorate the student common room. Music-making is part of school life. Some students help in local hospitals, homes for the handicapped and elderly people.
There are many clubs and societies. Very popular, especially with senior pupils, is school debating society.
Most clubs meet regularly: daily, weekly or monthly, at lunch time or after school. Extracurricular activities include various outings, visits to places of interest and dances. School choirs and orchestras give regular concerts. Sports are very popular too: running, jogging, swimming, self-defence, football, soccer, badminton, aerobics, rugby, etc.
There are many national voluntary youth organizations in Britain. You probably read about the Scout and Girl Guides Associations. There are some clubs run by the churches. The three pre-service organizations (the Sea Cadet Corps, Army Cadet Force and Air Training Corps) are not very large. Their activities are related to the work of the armed forces.
But the largest youth organizations, as you probably know, are the associations of the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides. There are about 1.300 boys and girls in them. The movement of Boy Scouts was founded by General Baden-Powell in 1908 and began to spring up in almost every town and village of the British Isles. Its aim is to help a Scout (a boy from 8 to 18) to develop into a good man and a useful citizen. He must be able to handle sails, to use the compass, to lay and light a fire out of doors, he must know first aid and develop his interest in music, literature, drama, arts, and films. A Scout is a friend to animals, he is ‘clean in thought, word and deed’. He must obey the Scout Law.
The Girl Guides Association was founded by Lord Baden-Powell in 1910. It is divided into three sections: Brownies (from 7.5 to 11), Guides (age 11—16), and Rangers 12 (age 16—21). The programme of training is planned to develop intelligence and practical skills including cookery, needlework and childcare. The training and the Law are much the same as those of the Scouts. Like a Scout a Girl Guide must be a friend to animals. She must be ‘pure in thought, word and deed’. She must be loyal to God and the Queen.
There are several youth organizations associated with political parties. The Youth Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (YCND) unites thousands of young people of Great Britain. It co-operates with the National Union of Students and many other youth organizations. It organizes mass rallies and meetings, demonstrations, marches of protest, festivals.