British education helps to develop fully the abilities of individuals, for their own benefit and of society as a whole. Compulsory schooling takes place between the ages of 5 and 16, but some pupils remain at shool for 2 years more, to prepare for further higher education. Post-school education is organized flexibly, to provide a wide range of opportunities for academic and vacational education and to continue studying through out life.
Administration of state schools is decentralised. The department of education and science is responsible for national education policy, but it doesn’t run any schools, it doesn’t employ teachers, or prescribe corricular or textbooks. All shools are given a considerable amount of freedom. According to the law only one subject is compulsory. That is religious instruction.
Children recieve preschool education under the age of 5 in nursery schools or in infant’s classes in primary schools.
Most pupils receive free education funded from public fonds and the small proportions attend wholly independent schools. Most independent schools are single-sex, but the number of mixed schools is growing.
Education within the maintained schools system usually comprises two stages: primary and secondary education. Primary schools are subdivided into infant schools (ages 5 — 7) and junior schools (ages 7 — 11). Infant schools are informal and children are encouraged to read, write and make use of numbers and develop the creative abilities. Primary children do all their work with the same class teacher exept for PT and music.
The junior stage lasts for four years. Children have set periods of arithmetic, reading, composition, history, geography, nature study and others. At this stage of schooling pupils were often placed in A, B, C and D streams according their abilities. The most able children were put in the A stream, the least able in the D stream. Till recently most junior school children had to take the eleven-plus examination. It usually consisted of an arithmetic paper and an intelligence test. According to the results of the exam children were sent to Grammar, Technical or Secondary modern schools. So called comprehensive schools began to appear after World War II. They are mixed schools which can provide education for over 1000 pupils. Ideally they provide all the courses given in Grammar, Technical and Secondary modern schools.
By the law all children must receive full-time education between the ages of 5 and 16. Formally each child can remain in school for further 2 or 3 years and continue his studies in the sixth form up to the age of 18 or 19. The course is usually subdivided into the lower 6 and the upper 6. The curriculum is narrowed to 5 subjects of which a pupil can choose 2 or 3.
The main examinations for secondary school pupils are general certificate of education (the GCE) exam and certificate of secondary education (the CSE) exam. The GSE exam is held at two levels: ordinary level (0 level) and advanced level (A level).
Candidates sit for 0-level papers at 15 — 16 years. GCE level is usually taken at the end on the sixth form. The CSE level exam is taken after 5 years of secondary education by the pupils who are of average abilities for their age.