The School Education in Great Britain (Школьное образование в Великобритании)
The School Education in Great Britain
The aim of
education in general is to develop to the full the talents of both children and
adults for their own benefit and that of society as a whole. It is a
large-scale investment in the future.
educational system of Great Britain has developed for over a hundred years. It
is a complicated system with wide variations between one part of the country
and another. Three partners are responsible for the education service: central
government – the Department of Education and Science (DES), local education
authorities (LEAs), and schools themselves. The legal basis for this
partnership is supplied by the 1944 Education Act.
Department of Education and Science is concerned with the formation of national
policies for education. It is responsible for the maintenance of minimum
national standard of education. In exercising its functions the DES is assisted
by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate. The primary functions of the Inspectors are to
give professional advice to the Department, local education authorities,
schools and colleges, and discuss day-to-day problems with them.
education authorities are charged with the provision and day-to-day running of
the schools and colleges in their areas and the recruitment and payment of the
teachers who work in them. They are responsible for the provision of
buildings, materials and equipment. However, the choice of text-books and
timetable are usually left to the headmaster. The content and method of
teaching is decided by the individual teacher.
administrative functions of education in each area are in the hands of a Chief
Education Officer who is assisted by a deputy and other officials.
planning and organization were not controlled by central government. Each LEA
was free to decide how to organize education in its own area. In 1988, however,
the National Curriculum was introduced, which means that there is now greater
government control over what is taught in schools. The aim was to provide a
more balanced education. The new curriculum places greater emphasis on the more
practical aspects of education. Skills are being taught which pupils will need
for life and work.
elements of the national Curriculum include a broad and balanced framework of
study which emphasizes the practical applications of knowledge. It is based
around the core subjects of English, mathematics and science ( biology,
chemistry, etc.) as well as a number of other foundation subjects, including
geography, history, technology and modern languages.
education reform of 1988 also gave all secondary as well as larger primary
schools responsibilities for managing the major part of their budgets,
including costs of staff. Schools received the right to withdraw from local
education authority control if they wished.
with the National Curriculum, a programme of Records of Achievements was
introduced. This programme contains a system of new tests for pupils at the
ages of 7, 11, 13 and 16. The aim of these tests is to discover any schools or
areas which are not teaching to a high enough standard. But many believe that
these tests are unfair because they reflect differences in home rather than in
majority of children (about 9 million) attend Britain’s 30,500 state schools.
No tuition fees are payable in any of them. A further 600,000 go to 2,500
private schools, often referred to as the “independent sector” where the
parents have to pay for their children.
primary and secondary state schools boys and girls are taught together. Most
independent schools for younger children are also mixed, while the majority of
private secondary schools are single-sex.
schools are almost all day schools, holding classes between Mondays and Fridays.
The school year normally begins in early September and continues into the
following July. The year is divided into three terms of about 13 weeks each.
of state schools are wholly owned and maintained by LEAs. The remainder are
voluntary schools, mostly belonging to the Church of England or the Roman
Catholic Church. They are also financed by LEAs.
school has its own governing body (a board of governors), consisting of
teachers, parents, local politicians, businessmen and members of the local
community. Boards of governors are responsible for their school’s main
policies, including the recruitment of the staff.
role is played by the Parent Teacher Association (PTA). Practically all parents
are automatically members of the PTA and are invited to take part in its many
activities. Parental involvement through the PTA and other links between
parents and schools is growing . The PTA forms both a special focus for parents
and much valued additional resources for the school. Schools place great value
on the PTA as a further means of listening to parents and developing the
partnership between home and school. A Parent’s Charter published by the
Government in 1991 is designed to enable parents to take more informed
decisions about their children’s education.
education begins at the age of 5 in England, Wales and Scotland, and at the age
of 4 in Northern Ireland. All pupils must stay at school until the age of 16.
About 9 per cent of pupils in state schools remain at school voluntarily until
the age of 18.
within the state school system comprises either two tiers (stages) – primary
and secondary, or three tiers – first schools, middle schools and upper
state secondary schools are comprehensive, they embrace pupils from 11 to 18.
The word “comprehensive” expresses the idea that the schools in question take
all children in a given area without, selection.
EDUCATION. Education for the under-fives, mainly from 3 to 5, is not
compulsory and can be provided in nursery schools and nursery classes
attached to primary schools. Although they are called schools, they give little
formal education. The children spend most of their time in some sort of play
activity, as far as possible of an educational kind. In any case, there are not
enough of them to take all children of that age group. A large proportion of
children at this beginning stage is in the private sector where fees are
payable. Many children attend pre-school playgroups, mostly organized by
parents, where children can go for a morning or afternoon a couple of times a
EDUCATION. The primary school usually takes children from 5 to 11. Over
half of the primary schools take the complete age group from 5 to 11. The
remaining schools take the pupils aged 5 to 7 – infant schools, and 8
to 11 – junior schools. However, some LEAs have introduced first
school, taking children aged 5 to 8, 9 to 10. The first school is followed
by the middle school which embraces children from 8 to 14. Next comes
the upper school (the third tier) which keeps middle school leavers
until the age of 18. This three-stage system (first, middle and upper) is
becoming more and more popular in a growing number of areas. The usual age for
transfer from primary to secondary school is 11.
three categories of comprehensive schools:
which take pupils from 11 to 18,
which embrace middle school leavers from 12, 13or 14 to 18, and
which take the age group from 11 to 16.
The pupils in the latter group,
wishing to continue their education beyond the age of 16 (to be able to enter
university) may transfer to the sixth form of an 11-18 school, to a sixth-form
college or to a tertiary college which provide complete courses of secondary
education. The tertiary college offers also part-time vocational courses.
schools admit children of all abilities and provide a wide range of secondary
education for all or most of the children in a district.
areas children moving from state primary to secondary education are still
selected for certain types of school according to their current level of
academic attainment. There are grammar and secondary modern schools,
to which children are allowed at the age of 11 on the basis of their abilities.
Grammar schools provide a mainly academic education for the 11 to 18 age group.
Secondary modern schools offer a more general education with a practical bias
up to the minimum school-leaving age of 16.
education authorities run technical schools (11 – 18). They provide a
general academic education, but place particular emphasis on technical
subjects. However, as a result of comprehensive reorganization the number of
grammar and secondary modern schools fell radically by the beginning of the
There are special
schools adapted for the physically and mentally handicapped children. The
compulsory period of schooling here is from 5 to 16. A number of handicapped
pupils begin younger and stay on longer. Special schools and their classes are
more generously staffed than ordinary schools and provide, where possible.
Physiotherapy, speech therapy and other forms of treatment. Special schools are
normally maintained by state, but a large proportion of special boarding
schools are private and fee-charging.
About 5 per
cent of Britain’s children attend independent or private schools
outside the free state sector. Some parents choose to pay for private education
in spite of the existence of free state education. These schools charge between
300 pounds a term for day nursery pupils and 3,500 pounds a term for senior
independent schools have to register with the Department of Education and
Science and are subject to inspection be Her Majesty’s Inspecrorate, which is
absolutely independent. About 2,300 private schools provide primary and
most privileged and expensive schools are commonly known as public schools.
principal examinations taken by secondary school pupils at the age of 16 are
those leading to the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). It aims
to assess pupils’ ability to apply their knowledge to solving practical
problems. It is the minimum school leaving age, the level which does not allow
school-leavers to enter university but to start work or do some vocational
examinations at the age of 18 are leading to the General Certificate of
Education Advanced level (GCE A-level). It enables sixth-formers to widen their
subject areas and move to higher education. The systems of examinations are
co-ordinated and supervisedby the Secondary Examination Council.
to universities is carried out by examinationor selection (interview).
Applicants for places in nearly all the universities are sent initially to the
Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS). In the application an
applicant can list up to five universities or colleges in order to preference.
Applications must be sent to the UCAS in the autumn term of the academic year
preceding that in which the applicant hopes to be admitted. The UCAS sends a
copy to aech of the universities or colleges named. Each univesity selects its
pupil-teacher ratio in state primary and secondary schools is about 18 to 1,
on of the most favourable in the world.