The History of England

from Celts through 20th century

Education In England

Category: Education

In England, the Department of Education and Science is responsible for all levels of education. Universities, however, are self-governing and depend on the government only for financial grants. Education is compulsory between the ages of five and sixteen.

About one-third of primary and secondary schools in England are administered by Anglican or Roman Catholic voluntary organisations. More than 90 per cent of the secondary-school population (children aged eleven through eighteen) attend state-funded comprehensive schools, in which admission is not based on aptitude alone, and the remainder attend either grammar or secondary modern schools.

Tertiary colleges offer a full range of vocational and academic courses to students aged sixteen and older. Independent schools provide both primary and secondary education but charge tuition. In large cities, a number of independent schools are run by various ethnic and religious communities.

So-called public schools, which actually are private, are often categorized as independent schools. Most public schools are residential, are privately financed, and provide education to children aged eleven through nineteen.

Important public schools for boys include Eton (the oldest; established 1440-1441), Harrow, Winchester and Westminster; famous public schools for girls include Cheltenham.

There are also private, mostly residential, preparatory schools, which prepare students aged seven through thirteen for the Common Entrance Examination required to enter senior secondary schools. At the completion of secondary education, students receive the General Certificate of Secondary Education.

More than a third of England’s young adults receive some form of postsecondary education through colleges, polytechnics and universities. The universities of Oxford and Cambridge date from the 12th and 13th centuries, and both have university presses that are among the oldest printing and publishing houses in the world.

There are about 35 universities in England, some of which are referred to as “red brick” universities. These universities were founded in the late 19th or early 20th century in the industrial cities of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Sheffield and Bristol and were constructed of red brick, as contrasted with the stone construction of the buildings of Oxford and Cambridge.

A continuing education program through the Open University (1969), in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, offers education through correspondence courses and the electronic media.

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