The British School System - School life

The British School System

The British School System
Compulsory education in Britain begins at the age of 5 and ends at the age of 16.
At first children have to go to primary school, which corresponds to the german Grundschule.
Primary school consists of Infant school, for the 5-7 year- old pupils and Junior school, for the 8-11/12 year- olds. The results of primary education should be that pupils are able to read, to write and to calculate without any problems. That's why these three subjects are the important ones and in which children first of all are mainly taught. Besides, they are taught in art and religion. Religion has to be taught at every school.
After Primary school follows Secondary school. Over 90% of the seconders attend a comprehensive school which is comparable with our Gesamtschule. The other 10 % attend a private or independent school where they have to pay fees. Comprehensive school includes the classes 7 to 11 or 7 to 13 and is attended by 12 to 16 or 18 year-olds.

School life
Every British school gives lessons until the afternoon which means that pupils sometimes have to stay at school till 4 pm. That's why every school offers lunch and gives a long break for it. The food is free for pupils whose parents have financial problems. There are no further breaks except a 15 minutes break for breakfast. One lesson runs 40 minutes.
A very long tradition is the everyday Assembly. Among this arrangement, a person, generally the headmaster, reads out one or some parts of the bible and interprets it ( for the pupils). It always takes place in the morning before lessons. The boys and girls have to come shoeless into the assembly hall or gymnasium and have to be very very quite. Some teachers have to pay attention if everyone listens to the headmaster and they get angry if someone doesn't or is late. If a pupil is often late, he or she gets a blame or something else.
After the Assembly, the young people have to go to their classrooms immediately. It's also a difference to Germany that they have to go to the teachers classroom instead of waiting in their own classroom till the teacher comes.
Another big difference is, that teenagers in Britain have to wear school uniforms. (But I will give you some more information later)

exams & their problems

English pupils get their marks in form of letters. A is the best and G the worst.
British have to write a lot of tests and exams with high/big demands. Altogether, they have to write 4 important exams that are called Key Stage Exams. They have to be written at the end of Infant school and Junior school, in the middle and at the end of Secondary school in 3 subjects: english, calculating and science, ( At infant school the subject Science is replaced by ` ability of reading´.)
At those times, pupils have the age of 7,11, 14 and16. The Key Stage Exams help to compare the results of pupils and schools with the national average results. ( Also to see if the pupils have reached the achievements.)

Aged 14 to 16 they take GCSEs. (GCSE is the shorter form for General Certificate of Secondary Education.) The GCSEs are one of the important qualifications and correspond to the german Realschulabschluss. The government thinks of dropping mathematic as a compulsory GCSE subject because a lot of teachers and educators think it is enough for pupils to learn the use of numbers and that it makes no sense to force 14 to 16-year-olds to learn further things of mathematics. This subject could be left to students who enjoy maths and plan to study it. Educators think, most pupils are interested in learning languages or humanities.

After passing the GCSE, pupils can leave school and get a job or stay at school and do their A-Levels. The majority decides to try further qualifications. If they have their A-Levels, they are able to go to university.

Learned man say that pupils who want to get their A-Levels do learn many hours to master this demands and if they work until midnight, they suffer on a lack of sleep. Consequences are often defective concentration at school, depressions or even
violence. The same problem with Key Stage Exams 1 and 2. All parents agree that schools put their children under enormous stress. They haven't time anymore to do things they are really interested in and which children should do. That are things like playing ballgames, meeting friends or doing things with their family.
But it seems as if schools just want their pupils to reach the standards.

additional information & pedagogical problems

. school uniform

The pupils don't like their school uniform, because they don't feel like an individualist anymore. A lot of teenagers also don't like them because of the colours, which are often ones like black or grey and the majority says that their uniform is uncomfortable too.
School uniforms often consist of a blazer with a t-shirt or a blouse below it, a tie and a pair of trousers for boys and a coat for girls in summer.
The idea is to make pupils look equally so that nobody will be discriminated against because of his social problems which could be less money (or things like that).

. swearing at school

A special programme, which is part of a project named Personal, Social and Health module, was introduced since September2002. ( PSHM also covers topics such as sexual health and education, drugs, smoking and relationships.)
Within this programme, schools give their pupils lessons in which the 11-16 years-old have to write down as many swearwords as they can think of. Then the teachers describe and explain them to their pupils, because specialists think that pupils don't know what their swearwords really mean.
The aim is to get young people to look carefully at their language and see if they really meant to say what they did.
A lot of parents are against this programme as they think that their children just get a wider range of disgusting words.

. Children's growing lack of respect
It is not easy for teachers to handle teenagers at the age of 12 to 16 when they start interesting for things and people who really don't have to do anything with school. Teenagers, especially girls, want to show their independence by bad behaviour and doing the opposite of that what teachers want them to do. This problem is getting more difficult now because parents aids their children by taking their children's side when teachers try to discuss and solve discipline problems with pupils and want to remind the school rules. So when Pupils see that even their parents don't have any respect for the authority of teachers, they wonder why they should have it. But teachers don't say anything about things like that in the publicity because they don't want others think they couldn't control their classes.
More and more violent incidence happen, but headmasters don't want to talk about it for fear of bringing their schools into disrepute.

. Smoking
Smoking at school is absolutely forbidden. If a pupil is caught in the act, his parents will be informed immediately.
Until now, there is one school in Britain who let's its pupils smoke. They are allowed to with their parents agree. A spokesman for the Department of Health said that it was very unusual. Other schools reacted shocked.

[ Hand-out]

Education in Britain

The British School System

Age: 5 - 7: Infant school Key Stage Exam 1
8 -11: Junior school Key Stage Exam 2
12-16: Secondary school Key Stage Exam 3 at the of 14
GCSE ( General Certificate of Secondary or Education) at the age of 16

12-18: Secondary school ( A(dvanced)-levels at the of 18 )

The Key Stage Exams help to compare pupils´ and schools´ results with the national average results.
After passing their GCSEs, the young people can leave school and get a job or stay at school and do their A-levels. If they have their A-levels, they can go to university.
Before primary school, parents have the choice if they want to send their children into a kindergarten.

school life

. 15 minutes Assembly before lessons in which the headmaster reads out a part of the bible. The pupils have to come shoeless into the Assembly hall or gymnasium and have to listen to the headmaster carefully
. After the Assembly, the young people have to go to their lessons.
. The Seconders have to go to the teachers´ classroom instead of waiting for the teacher in their own classroom
. Pupils have 2 breaks: first break ca. 11 o'clock and second break for lunch at 1 o'clock ( it takes 1 no further breaks hour)
. One lesson runs 40 minutes.
. Every school offers lunch; the food is free for pupils whose parents have financial problems.
. Lessons run until the afternoon.
. Teenagers in Britain have to wear school uniforms at school. The idea is to make everyone look equally so that nobody will be discriminated against because of his style or lack of money.
A is the best . English pupils get their marks in form of letters and G the worst.
. Pupils have to attend school until they are 16 years old.
. Pupils do not have to repeat a year if they do badly