Education in Great Britain: Schools
In Britain it is compulsory
for everyone between the ages of 5 and 16 years to receive some officially
recognized form of schooling, though most secondary schools continue to provide
education until the age of 18.
The vast majority of pupils
attend state schools, which are absolutely free (including all text books and
exercise books), but there are also about 500 private schools providing
secondary education. The most famous of these schools are Eton and Harrow.
There is no statutory age at
which students change from primary to secondary school, nor are schools
"specialized" — pupils choose from the numerous subjects taught in
their particular school.
The recently introduced
National Curriculum has made it compulsory, however, for three core subjects —
English, mathematics, and science — and seven other foundation subjects —
technology (including design), history, geography, music, art, physical
education, and a modern foreign language — to be included in the curricula of
Passage from one academic year
to the next is automatic. After a two-year course, usually from 14 to 16 years
of age, most pupils take their General Certificate of Secondary Education
(GCSE), assessed on the basis of a mixture of course work and a written
examination, in individual subjects.
Pupils obtaining at least five
passes at GCSE can then specialize for two years (usually from 16 to 18 years
of age) in two or three subjects, in which they take the General Certificate of
Education Advanced level (A-level) examination. This is used as an entrance
qualification for university (minimum two passes) and other types of higher
education, as well as for many forms of professional training.