The History of England

from Celts through 20th century

The British system of education

Category: Educational System

The British system of education has a very long history, but in the past few years there have been many changes in it. British education was traditionally decentralized, but now the Education Reform Act has led to a compulsory National Curriculum for pupils aged five to sixteen in state schools. The Act also aims to give parents a wider choice of schools for their children. Thus they have the right to express a preference for a school.
Boys and girls are taught together in most schools. Non-selective comprehensive education caters for children of all abilities. Most children receive free education financed from public funds. 7% of children attend private fee-paying schools.
Around half of 3- and 4-year-olds in Britain receive nursery education and many children attend preschool play groups, mostly organised by parents. Compulsory primary education begins at the age of 5. Children usually start their school career in an infant school and move to a junior school or department at seven. In some schools they move to middle school at the age of eight, nine or ten. These three stages form the primary school, covering the following subjects: English, Maths and Science, History, Geography, Music, Art and Physical Education.
At seven and eleven years old (and at secondary school at fourteen and sixteen) teachers measure children’s progress in each subject against attainment targets. For each target there are ten levels of attainment.
The secondary level includes the children from eleven to eighteen. Here they expand the knowledge they have acquired at primary school. And according to the National Curriculum they start to learn a modern foreign language. At the age of (GCSE) sixteen they can get General Certificate of Secondary Education qualifications on the basis of examinations and course work.
If pupils are successful, they can continue to more advanced education and training. After a further 2 years of study the General Certificate of Education Advanced level exam is taken at the age of 18 and can be combined with the Advanced Supplementary level exam to provide a wider range of subjects. These exams are the main standard for entry to university education and to many forms of professional training. There is also a Certificate of Pre-Vocational Education for those who stay at school till seventeen. This provides a preparation for work on vocational courses.
For those leaving school at sixteen there are Further Education colleges. Most of them are work-related and vocational.
The next stage is higher education. All British universities enjoy complete academic freedom. There are seventynine universities, Oxford and Cambridge being the oldest of them. Over 90% of students receive awards covering tuition fees and maintenance.

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