Education in Great Britain

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State schools are absolutely free (including all textbooks and exercise books) and generally co-educational.

Under the NC a greater emphasis at the secondary level is laid on science and technology. Accordingly, ten subjects have to be studied: English, history, geography, mathematics, science, a modern foreign language, technology, music, art and physical education. For special attention there of these subjects (called core subjects): English, science, mathematics and seven other subjects are called foundation or statuary subjects. Besides, subjects are grouped into departments and teachers work in teams and to plan work.

Most common departments are:

Humanities Departments: geography, history, economics, English literature, drama, social science;

Science Department: chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics;

Language Department: German, French, English;

Craft Design and Technology Departments: information and communications technology, computing, home economics and photography.

The latter brings together the practical subjects like cooing, woodwork, sewing, and metalwork with the new technology used in those fields. Students can design a T-shirt on computer using graphics software and make-up the T-shirt design. Students can also look at way to market their product, thus linking all disciplines. This subjects area exemplifies the process approach to learning introduced by the NC.

It is worth mentioning here the growing importance of personal and Social Education. Since the 1970s there has been an emphasis on pastoral care, education in areas related to life skills such as health (this includes looking at drug, discussing physical changes related to poverty, sex education and relationship). There are usually one or two lessons a week, from primary school through to sixth form and they are an essential part of the schools aim to prepare students to life in society.

Education in Britain is not solely concentrated on academic study. Great value is placed on visits and activities like organizing the school club or field trips, which are educational in a more general sense. The organization of these activities by teachers is very much taken for granted in the British school system. Some teachers give up their free time, evenings and weekends to do this unpaid work. At Christmas teachers organized concerts, parties and general festivities. It is also considered a good thing to be seen to be doing this extra work since it is fairly essential for securing promotion in the school hierarchy.

Classes of pupils are called forms (though it has recently become common to refer to years) and are numbered from one to beginning with first form. Nearly all schools work a five-day week and are closed on Saturdays. The day starts at nine oclock and finishes between three and four. The lunch break usually lasts about an hour-and-a-quarter. Nearly two-thirds of pupils have lunch provided by the school. Parents pay for this except for the 15 per cent who are rated poor enough and have it for free. Other children either go home for lunch or take sandwiches.

Schools usually divide their year into tree terms starting at the beginning of September:

Autumn

term

Christmas

Holiday

(about 2weeks)

Spring

term

Easter

Holiday

(about 2 weeks)

Summer

term

Summer

Holiday

(about 6 weeks)

Passage from one year to the next one is automatic. At the age of 14 pupils are tested in English, mathematics and science, as well as in statutory subjects. At that same age in the third or forth pupils begin to choose their exam subjects and work for two years to prepare for their qualifications. The exams are usually taken in fifth form at the age of 16, which is a school-leaving age. The actual written exams are set by outside examiners, but they must be approved by the government and comply with national guidelines. There are several examination boards in Britain and each school decided that boards exam its pupils take. Most exams last for two hours, marks are given for each exams separately and are graded from A to G (grades A, B, C are considered to be good marks).

: 12/01/2010