Education in Britain
I’m so interested in education in Britain that I’ll introduce
some information about education in Britain.
Education in Britain is carried out in three stages: primary, secondary and higher education. Education is compulsory for children between the ages of five and sixteen. Independent schools are fee-paying institutions, providing pupils with two stages of education: in prep schools and public schools. Public schools are the most expensive and the best known of independent schools for their house system and prefect system.
Examinations for secondary schooling are represented by the three main certificates: the certificate of Secondary Education, the Ordinary Level of the General Certificate of Education and the Advanced Level of the General Certificate of Education. All universities are private institutions, each having its own governing council and deriving nearly all of its funds form state grants. Universities in Britain can be roughly divided into three groups: Oxbridge, redbrick and new universities.
What deserve special attention of the three categories of universities are the college system and the tutorial system of Oxford and Cambridge.
State education is in two stages: primary education and
secondary education. Primary education takes place in three categories of schools: nursery schools, infant schools and junior schools, and secondary education in a variety of schools: grammar schools, secondary modern schools, technical schools and comprehensive schools.
I’ll introduce some information about the education system.
Education in Britain is carried out in three main stages: primary education, secondary education and higher education. All children must, by law, receive full-time education between the ages of five and sixteen. Primary and secondary education takes place in schools, which may be divided into two categories: the independent schools and the state schools. Independent schools, also known as private schools, are fee-paying educational institutions. Many private schools are long established and have gained a reputation for their high academic standards。However, only about 6% of all children attend these schools. Apart from the independent schools, there is a complete system of state primary and secondary education. Any child may attend, without paying fees, a school provided by the public authorities, and the great majority of children attend such schools. Numerically small as they are, the independent schools have made the most peculiar and characteristic contribution to
education in Britain and have an immense influence on the whole of English educational practice.
Examinations are very important in Britain education. Though not its main purpose, they are required for qualification for a higher level of education. Under the old selective system, pupils take an examination called the “eleven plus” in their last
year at primary school when they are 11 years old. The results of this examination determine whether they will go to a grammar school, a technical school or a secondary modern school. For secondary schooling students, at least one of the three main certificates is required to demonstrate their educational attainment. Moderately assiduous children take the Certificates of Secondary Education, which indicates satisfactory completion of schooling to the age of 16. More ambitious children take the examinations for the General Certificate of Education at Ordinary Level, which is the required
starting-point for many types of professional training. Most young pupils who stay at schools after passing their Ordinary Level examinations prepare themselves foe the Advanced Level of GCE, which is the standard for entrance to universities and other higher education and to many forms of professional training. The examinations for the GCE are not conducted by
eight independent examination boards, most of them being connected with universities. Each of the examining boards arranges its syllabus, prepares questions and grades the candidates and awards certificates. Thus, the examinations set by the different boards are similar in difficulty, but differ in contents and arrangement. Each school has its choice from these boards for preparing its pupils for examinations. Universities in Britain are formerly restricted to the rich. They are now open to all intelligent young people, both male and female. Thanks to the availability of the many scholarships awarded both by the state and by local authorities, students who receive further fulltime education after the age of 18 and whose parents cannot afford to pay for their children’s education at university can
receive a grant to cover most of their fees and living expenses, with the rest being paid by their parents. Rich parents have to pay for all the fees and living expenses for their children’s
education. Still, the number of secondary school students who can enter universities is limited due to the fact that the capacity of universities is not enough to take for admission all those who are able to get the necessary “A” Level of GCE at school. In
practice, therefore, entry to universities is competitive. To remedy this insufficiency of capacity, polytechnics were
established, where degree courses are also available. Entry to the open Universities is much less restricted. In the teaching profession there is no clear distinction between elementary and advanced level teachers. All men and women who have not been to universities but wish to teach in state schools must spend three years in a college of education to get their teaching certificates. Students of a university, however, need only one year in the department of education of a university. All teacher-training courses include teaching practice in the classroom. The standard salary scale for teachers in schools is called the Burnham Scale, first established in 1924 by a committee chaired by Lord Burnham. Supplements are paid to teachers who have first or second class honors degrees from their universities and to those who have posts of special responsibility. Schools outside the state system make their own arrangements for paying their teachers, but often follow the Burnham Scale. The academic year for schools begins after the summer holidays and is divided into three terms, namely , the Autumn tern from early September to mid-December, the Spring Term from early January to the end of March or the beginning of April, and the Summer Term from the end of April to early or mid-July.
Now, I’ll introduce some information about the
Administration of Education.
Education in Britain is not as centralized as it is in many other countries. The central Department of Education and Science in London guides, advises and inspects, but the planning and organization of education in England and Wales are left to the Local Education Authorities, the local government bodies that are responsible for the state schools in a district and that engage teachers, maintain school buildings and supply school equipment and materials. The LSA is controlled by the Education Committees of the country and metropolitan councils. Most of the money needed comes from the general grant provided by the Treasury, but the LEA has a great deal of freedom in their administration. In the same way, the LEA interferes as little as possible with schools. The headmaster or headmistress of a school thus has a great deal of autonomy in deciding what is to be taught and how the teaching is to be carried on. Teachers in school choose their own books and free to experiment in many different ways. Education is compulsory for all from the ages of five to sixteen. Children receive their education in two systems of schools: the state schools and the independent schools. All state schools are under the control of
the LEA. Each school has a board of unpaid governors or managers, a group of local citizens who give help and advice to the schools. Nearly 94% of British schools are state schools. They are non-fee-paying, as distinct from independent schools, which are fee-paying schools operating outside the state system. Each independent school has a board of governors separately constituted. They control the finances and appoint the headmaster, who in turn appoints the other teachers. Now about 96% of all children go to state schools, only 4% of them attending independent schools. All schools, including independent schools, are subjected inspection by officials sent out by the Department of Education and Science. State education is in two main stages: primary education up to the age of eleven, and secondary education from eleven or thirteen years of compulsory full-time education. Higher education in Britain takes place in universities. All British universities are private institutions. Each has its own governing council, including some local businessmen and local politicians as well as a few academics. The state began to give grants to them in the 1920s, and by 1970 each university derived nearly all of its funds from state grants. The government gives money to the universities to cover the cost of buildings and to cover almost all their current
expenditure, but it does no control them. The Department of Education and Science has an important influence on new developments in higher education through its power to allocate funds.
In Britain, there are two kinds of schools: Independent schools and State schools.
Independent schools: Operating outside the state school
system is a different system of schools—the independent
schools. These schools are supported entirely by fees and private funds; thus they are also known as private schools. The best known of the private schools are the public schools. The oldest of public schools were founded to give free education to clever boys whose parents couldn’t afford to educate them privately.
They were under “public” management or control. Today,
however, these schools are the most expensive of the independent schools in Britain. They are mostly boarding schools, where pupils live as well as study. Independent schools usually provide pupils with two stages of education. However, the terms “primary” and “secondary” are not usually applied to
independent schools at different levels because the age transfer from a lower to a higher school is normally thirteen or fourteen instead of eleven. The principal schools for children of over
thirteen are usually called public schools and those for younger pupils are usually called “preparatory” schools. There is an
important difference of construction between the preparatory and the public schools. Some preparatory schools are private in the fullest sense; they are operated as private enterprises as if they were shops or factories. Such a school is often the personal property of its headmaster, who is not controlled by a governing body, but works as an independent businessman. The public schools, on the other hand, are not normally called “private
schools;” they are not private in the fullest sense. They are generally under the control of governing bodies. They don’t try
to make financial profits, but only to balance their budgets. Their income is mainly from fees paid by parents, supplemented by gifts and endowments. Most public schools, particularly the most eminent ones, are called by the name of the town or village in which they are situated. Some of them are called “college”. In
public schools boys and girls are usually educated separately. The four most famous of all the boys’ public schools are Eton
College, Harrow Schools, Winchester College and Rugby School, and the two best known of all the girls’ public schools
are Rode School. Such a school is never referred to as “a
college.” One way to determine that a particular institution is a
public school is the tendency that people usually refer to it by the name of the town or village in which it is located, without adding the word “college” or “school” at all. Public schools are
subject to the inspection by inspectors of the Department of Education and Science, but otherwise they are quite independent. Each school has a board of governors separately constituted. They control the finances and appoint the headmistress and headmaster, who in turn appoint the other teachers. Public schools are well known for their house system and their prefect system. In a boys’ public school, for instance, though the
teaching is arranged centrally for the school as a whole, the boys live in a separate “house”. A house is a building where a group
of pupils lives. Each group of pupils is seen as having a distinctive group identity especially in competitions within the schools. A typical house has about fifty boys, and they are all under the special care of a housemaster and his wife. The housemaster appoints about six of the oldest boys as perfect, who are given certain powers and duties with regard to keeping order over the other boys. A typical preparatory schools is very small, with between fifty and a hundred children, either all boarders, or all day-pupils, or some of each. Many of these schools are housed in old buildings of the nineteenth century.