Great Britain

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National Curriculum (NC) – was introduced into the education system in 1989. Until that time LEA decided on the curriculum, the subjects which would be taught in school in their area. The NC is designed to make a national standard for all school pupils between the ages of 5 to 16. The main subjects are English, Mathematics, Science and a foreign language, either French or German. There are examinations for all pupils at the ages of 7, 11, 14, and 16 to check on their progress.

Oxbridge – a colloquial term for the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, jointly regarded as being superior to other universities and as enjoying and giving special privilege and prestige.

Secondary school – a state school or private school education for school children aged between 11 and 18. Other types of secondary schools are grammar schools, middle schools, secondary modern schools, technical schools and public schools. An extension of a state secondary schools a tertiary college.

Nursery school – a school for very young children, usually three or four years old (before compulsory education, which begins at the age of five).

Pidgin English (PE) – 1. A language made up of elements of English and some other foreign language, especially Chinese or Japanese, originally developing as a means of verbal communication when trading. 2. Loosely, any kind of English spoken with the elements of another language, whether for genuine communication or of comic effect.

§1. Education.

The British educational system has much in common with that in Europe, in that:

Full-time education is compulsory for all children in the middle teenage years. Parents are required by law to see that their children receive full-time education, at school or elsewhere, between the ages of 5 and 16 in England, Scotland and Wales and 4 and 16 in Northern Ireland.

The academic year begins at the end of summer.

Compulsory education is free of charge, though parents may choose a private school and spend their money on education their children. About 93% of pupils receive free education from public funds, while the others attend independent schools financed by fees paid by parents.

There are three stages of schooling, with children moving from primary school (the first stage) to secondary school (the second stage). The third stage (sometimes called the tertiary level) provides further and higher education and includes CFE, technical college, college of higher education, and universities.

There is, however, quite a lot that distinguishes education in Britain from the way it works in other countries. The most important distinguishing features are the lack of uniformity and comparativly little central control. There are three separate government departments managing education: the Departments for Education and Employment is responsible for England and Wales alone; Scotland and Northern Ireland retain control over the education within their respective countries. None of these bodies exercises much control over the details does not prescribe a detailed program of learning, books and materials to be used, nor does it dictate the exact hours of the school day, the exact days of holidays, school’s finance management and suchlike. As many details as possible are left to the discretion of the individual institution or of the LEA.

Many distinctive characteristics of British education can be ascribed, at least partly, to the public school tradition. The present-day level of ‘grass-root’ independence as well as different approach to education has been greatly influenced by the philosophy that a (public) school is its own community. The 19th century public schools educated the sons of the upper and upper-middle classes and the main aim of schooling was to prepare young men to take up positions in the higher ranks of the army, the Church, to fill top-jobs in business, the legal profession, the civil serves and politics. To meet this aim the emphasis was made on ‘character-building’ and the development of ‘team spirit’ (hence traditional importance of sports) rather than on academic achievement.

Such schools were (and still often are) mainly boarding establishments, so they had a deep and lasting influence on their pupils, consequently, public-school leavers formed a closed group entry into which was difficult, the ruling elite, the core of the Establishment.

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