In England and Wales compulsory schooling takes place between the ages of 5 and 16. There is no law which provides for education of the underfives. In England some 40 per cent of three- and four-year-olds receive education in nursery schools or classes. In addition many children attend informal pre-school playgroups organized by parents and voluntary bodies.
For many years the education service has been characterized by change. The provision of maintained school education is the responsibility of local education authorities (LEAs). They employ teachers and other staff, provide and maintain buildings, supply equipment and materials, provide grants to students proceeding to further and higher education.
Most children receive free education financed from public funds, but a small proportion (roughly 6 per cent) attend schools wholly independent of direct public financial support.
Schools Maintained by the State. No fees are charged to parents of children at maintained schools, and books and equipment are free. Education within the maintained school system usually comprises two stages — primary education and secondary education.
Schools supported from public funds are of two main kinds in England and Wales: county schools and voluntary schools. County schools are provided and maintained by LEAs wholly out of public funds. Voluntary schools, mostly established by religious denominations, are also wholly maintained from public funds but the governors of some types of voluntary schools contribute to capital costs. Nearly a third of primary and secondary maintained schools in England and Wales are voluntary schools, most of them Anglican or Roman Catholic. All children in county or voluntary schools receive religious education by law and take part in a daily corporate act of worship unless their parents choose otherwise.
Primary Schooling. Compulsory education begins at five when children in England and Wales go to infant schools or departments; at seven many go on to junior schools or departments. The usual age of transfer from primary to secondary schools is 11, but a number of LEAs in England have established "first" schools for pupils aged 5 to 8, 9 or 10 and "middle" schools covering various age ranges between 8 and 14.
Secondary Schooling. The publicly maintained system of education aims to give all children an education suited to their particular abilities. About 90 per cent of the maintained secondary school population in England and Wales attend comprehensive schools, which take pupils without reference to ability or aptitude and provide a wide range of secondary education for all or most of the children of a district.
Most other children receive secondary education in "grammar" or "secondary modern schools" to which they are allocated after selection procedures at the age of 11.
Special schools cater for a wide variety of handicap.
The Curriculum. The content of the secular curriculum in maintained schools in England and Wales is the responsibility of the LEA and of the schools' governors. In practice, responsibility is largely devolved on head teachers and their staff. The government has issued guidance on the curriculum for both primary and secondary school pupils. It considers that secondary pupils up to the age of 16 should follow a broad curriculum including English, Mathematics and Science, some study of the humanities including History, Religion and Physical education, and opportunities for both practical and aesthetic activities. Most pupils should also study a foreign language. A programme of development projects has been introduced to provide a more effective education with a practical slant for lower-attaining pupils who do not benefit fully from existing courses.
Independent Schools. Independent (private, fee-paying) schools are outside the publicly maintained sector. There are about 2,500 independent schools educating more than 500,000 pupils of all ages. They charge fees, varying from about £ 100 a term for day pupils at nursery age to £ 2,000 a term for senior boarding pupils.
There is a great variety of provision within the independent sector, ranging from small kindergartens to large boarding schools and from new and in some cases experimental schools to ancient foundations. The 550 "boys", "girls" and mixed preparatory schools are so called because they prepare children for the Common Entrance Examination to senior schools. The normal age range is from seven plus to 11, 12 or 13, but many of the schools now have pre-preparatory departments for younger children.
Independent schools for older pupils—from 11, 12 or 13 to 18 or 19 — include nearly 500 which are sometimes referred to as "public schools". * Today the term is becoming less frequently used but refers to the mainly boys' schools (which are increasingly admitting girls).
1. What stages of education are there in England and Wales? Which of them are compulsory?
2. Don`t you think that independent schools sustain inequality in the field of education?
3. What is the difference between an infant school and a junior school?
4. What kind of education do grammar schools offer?
5. When were secondary modern schools formed? What kind of education do they provide?