In England, the Department of
Education and Science is responsible for all levels of education. Universities,
however, are self-governing and depend on the government only for financial
grants. Education is compulsory between the ages of five and sixteen.
About one-third of primary and
secondary schools in England are administered by Anglican or Roman Catholic
voluntary organisations. More than 90 per cent of the secondary-school
population (children aged eleven through eighteen) attend state-funded comprehensive
schools, in which admission is not based on aptitude alone, and the remainder
attend either grammar or secondary modern schools.
Tertiary colleges offer a full
range of vocational and academic courses to students aged sixteen and older.
Independent schools provide both primary and secondary education but charge
tuition. In large cities, a number of independent schools are run by various
ethnic and religious communities.
So-called public schools,
which actually are private, are often categorized as independent schools. Most
public schools are residential, are privately financed, and provide education
to children aged eleven through nineteen.
Important public schools for
boys include Eton (the oldest; established 1440-1441), Harrow, Winchester and
Westminster; famous public schools for girls include Cheltenham.
There are also private, mostly
residential, preparatory schools, which prepare students aged seven through
thirteen for the Common Entrance Examination required to enter senior secondary
schools. At the completion of secondary education, students receive the General
Certificate of Secondary Education.
More than a third of England's
young adults receive some form of postsecondary education through colleges,
polytechnics and universities. The universities of Oxford and Cambridge date
from the 12th and 13th centuries, and both have university presses that are
among the oldest printing and publishing houses in the world.
There are about 35
universities in England, some of which are referred to as "red brick"
universities. These universities were founded in the late 19th or early 20th
century in the industrial cities of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham,
Sheffield and Bristol and were constructed of red brick, as contrasted with the
stone construction of the buildings of Oxford and Cambridge.
A continuing education program
through the Open University (1969), in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, offers
education through correspondence courses and the electronic media.