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The comprehensive system

More than 90% of children who go to state schools in England and Wales go to schools in the comprehensive system, a system introduced in the 1960s. Children go to a primary school at the age of 5. Depending on the policy of the Local Education Authority they may go directly to the upper school, usually called the comprehensive school, at the age of 11.Alternatively, they may go to a middle school for 3 or 4 years before going to the upper school. the comprehensive system is non-selective. This means that all children go from one school to another without taking any exams and without being selected according to their abilities.

The selective system

In some area of Britain you can still find a different and older system of education introduced in 1944. This is a selective system: children are selected for certain schools according to their ability. All children go to a primary school until the age of11.Then they take an examination called 11+. Those who are successful go to a grammar school where they receive a more academic education. Those who fail the exam go to a secondary modern school, where they receive an education which is less academic and more intended to train them for a job when they leave at the age of 16.

The private (independent) system

About 7% of all children go to private schools. There are three levels of private schools: primary schools (age4-8) and preparatory (prep) schools (8 to 13). At the age of 13 children take an examination. If they pass they go on to a public school where they usually remain until they are 18. Many prep and most public schools are boarding schools. Be careful, although these schools are called “public” they are, in fact, private, and it can be very expensive to send a child to such a school.

You can see that the British education system is rather confusing.


The public examinations taken by British schoolchildren are GCSE (The General Certificate of Secondary Education). Pupils usually take their GCSE at the age of 16. Some children take 3 or4; others take as many as 10 or11.

Pupils who have passed their GCSE may remain at school for another 2 years and take their “A” (Advanced) level exams. All grammar and most comprehensive schools have a six form, where pupils study for their ”A” levels. Any student who wants to go to a university needs to pass at least 2 or 3 “A” levels.

Further education

The following stage in the British educational system isFurther education.

Further education comprises all educational establishments for persons beyond school-leaving age. Further education may be academic or vocational. Institutions of further education are: collages of further education: technical, commercial (shorthand, book-keeping), art, agricultural, building and many other types of colleges. A large proportion of further educational establishments are independent or private.

The principle post-school institutions of higher education in Great Britain are 47 universities, they can be roughly divided: 1. Oxford and Cambridge; 2. The red brick universities; 3. The new universities.

The universities of Oxford and Cambridge date from the 12-13th centuries.

Oxford and Cambridge have dominated British education for seven hundred years. The university is like federation of colleges. It arranges the courses, the lectures and examinations and awards the degrees. The organizations system of the 2 universities differs from that of all other universities and colleges. The teachers are commonly called “dons”. Part of the teaching is by means of lectures organized by the university. Apart from lectures teaching is carried out by the tutorial system, for which these two universities have always been famous. This is a system of individual tuition organized by the colleges. Each student goes to his tutor’s room once every week to read and discuss an essay which the student has prepared. Oxford and Cambridge have a special role in England as educational institutions of the ruling class. The majority of Prime Ministers, political leaders, big businessmen mostly belong to the Oxford category, a class in itself. Oxford and Cambridge each consist of a number of residential colleges founded at different times.

2. The universities, which were founded between 1850 and 1930, including London University, are known as red brick universities. They were called so because that was the favourable building material at that time, though they are rarely referred to as “redbrick” today.

London University is the biggest of all modern educational establishments. The colleges in the university are essentially teaching institutions, giving instructions by means of lectures. The universities in England are autonomous units. Each has its own curriculum and the regulations differ from university to university. A university consists of a number of faculties: arts, natural sciences, engineering, medicine, law, music, agriculture, social and economic studies, commerce and education.

3. The new universities were all founded after World War II. Some of them quickly became popular because of their modern approach to university courses.

Besides universities there are polytechnics where it is possible to obtain a degree in some subjects. Polytechnics have a more practical, vocational approach. Departments of architecture, art and design, applied sciences, law, business studies, etc. can be found in them.

Admission to universities is by examinations or selection (interviews). Admission to universities, polytechnics and teacher training establishments is by interview. At Oxford and Cambridge there are also entrance examinations.


English meals

If you want to eat well in England eat breakfast three times a day.

(Somerset Maugham)

Nowadays it is usually only at mealtimes that families and sometimes friends come together. They sit around the table: they are hungry and want to eat but meal is a social occasion as well as a mean of satisfying one’s hunger. Perhaps that’s why they invite people to a meal and insist that children behave well at the table and pay great attention to table manners.

How many meals a day one should eat is a question that has never been answered. Some people say: “little and often”, they eat 8 or even 10 light meals a day. Others disagree: “one good solid meal a day is enough for anyone” And the average number? Probably four: breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner, maybe a few snacks from time to time and a light supper or a hot drink before bed.

Date: 2015-12-11; view: 1152

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