In the US, children must go to school from the the age of 5 or 6 to between the ages of 14 and 16, depending on the law in the state where they live. In the UK, all children have to go to school between the ages of 5 and 16. In some parts of the UK, preschool or nursery education is provided e local government for children aged 3 and the US, parents have to pay for nursery education.
State and Private Schools
In both the US and the UK most children go to schools that are provided by the government. In the US these are known as public schools, and in the UK they are known as state schools.
In the UK, some children go to schools that their parents pay for. These are called private schools, but the most famous ones, such as eton, harrow, WINCHESTER, and rugby, are always called public SCHOOLS. Public schools are often boarding schools, where students live as well as study. Some British people think that children at public schools get a better education than children at state schools. Although only about eight per cent of British children go to public schools, many people who go to university have been to public school. Many children in Britain attend nursery school from the age of about three, but these schools are not compulsory. Compulsory education begins at the age of five, when children go to primary school. Primary education lasts for six years. They attend the infant school from five to seven and then junior school until they are eleven. Then pupils go to secondary school.
Children study 10 subjects: English, mathematics, science, geography, history, art, music, physical education and a foreign language. Most secondary schools teach French and some schools offer Spanish, German, Italian and Russian. The first three are called "core" subjects. Pupils take examinations in the core subjects at the age of 7, 11 and 14.
After five years of secondary education, pupils take the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examination. Most pupils take examinations in all subjects.
Some children in the US also go to schools that their parents pay for, which are called private schools. Private schools in the US are often run by church groups, when they are known as parochial school, but there are private schools, especially on the East Coast, that are considered to be very good, such as the Hotchkiss school, Andover Academy,and Choate Rosemary Hall,but these can be very expensive. Students who attend public and private schools usually begin their formal education when they are six years old and continue for at least twelve years. Grades 1-5 make up the elementary school. Middle school consists of grades 6-8. High school is grades 9-12. When students have completed the 12th grade, they receive a high school diploma.
Social Events and Ceremonies
In US high schools there is a formal ceremony for graduation (=when the students have completed their high school education). Students wear a special hat and a gown (=a long, loose piece of clothing worn for special ceremonies) and receive their diploma.
The student who has earned the highest grades in his/her courses all through the high school and who therefore has the highest GPA in the class is the class valedictorian. The valedictorian usually gives a speech at the graduation ceremony, and in smaller towns his/her photograph may be printed in the local newspaper.
Sports events, especially football, are very popular in US schools, and cheerleaders lead the students in supporting the school teams. There are often dances, plays, and musical events organized and performed by the students. At the end of the last year of high school there is a special formal dance, often held at a hotel, called a prom. Most students buy a yearbook each year and their friends write messages in it and sign it. In the UK, schools often have dances, plays, and musical events as well, and many students play sports. In primary schools the sports day and the school fete are important events.
In the US, students usually study at college for four years, although some students take five years to finish their degree. Students usually choose one main subject to study, which is called their major, and often choose to study one other subject, called a minor. The student will eventually specialize in one area of study, such as mathematics, science, history, literature, theology, or foreign language. At the end of four years, he or she will earn a Bachelor degree. The student who wants to continue his or her education after college may enter graduate school and work to earn a Master's degree or a doctoral degree. A student may also elect to enter a professional school to prepare to be a doctor, dentist, or lawyer. Some universities are partly paid for by state governments, but even students at these universities must pay a lot of money for their education. Most students work part-time while they are studying, to pay for their living costs. Many take out a loan (=borrow money from a bank) which they begin to pay back after they graduate (=successfully complete their course), and that can take many years to pay back. In
Compulsory education in UK ends at sixteen. Some people choose to stay at secondary school for a further two years. Other people leave secondary school at sixteen and go to colleges of further education. Higher education begins at eighteen and usually lasts for three or four years. Students go to universities, polytechnics or colleges of higher education. There are now about 80 universities. England and Wales university courses usually last for three years, and students typically study either one subject, or two subjects that are related. In Scotland the university system is different and courses usually continue for four years. Students in Scotland study a larger number of subjects as part of their degree. In the UK, students take out student loans, which means that they borrow money from a bank to pay for their living costs, and often have large debts by the time they finish their course. Some students from poor families receive a grant from the government to help pay for their living costs.
Each year in an American college or University comprises two terms or semesters. The first, or fall term, usually begins the last week of August and continues until the middle of December with approximately four weeks intermission for the Christmas holidays. The second semester begins in January and continues until the end of May. The students are usually given three to five days for the Easter holidays. In addition to the regular academic year, many colleges offer courses of study during the summer months. These Sessions are attended by students who are interested in making up coursework or by those who would like to accelerate their program.
Cambridge is situated at a distance of 70 miles from London. It is one of the most beautiful towns in England. The dominating factor in Cambridge is its well-known University, a centre of education and learning. Newton, Byron, Darwin and many other scientists and writers were educated at Cambridge. It has 27 colleges. A college is a place where you live no matter what professidn you are trained for: so students studying literature and those trained for physics may belong to one and the same college. Every college is headed by a dean.
Oxford is one of the great English universities too. Cambridge and Oxford are almost identical. They trace their long history back to the same period. By the end of the thirteenth century both universities already had colleges.
Oxford and Cambridge are associated with the higher ranks of society. They have always been universities for gentlemen.
Cambridge is built on a river called the Cam. Cambridge University, founded in 1209, is still one of the two best places to study in England; Oxford is the other. Students work very hard to obtain a place at "Oxbridge" – either at Oxford or at Cambridge. There is great rivalry between these two ancient universities: each wants to be better than the other, but in reality both are equally good.