Lectures on Britain - 4 (Lectures on Britain)

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LECTURE № 4Education in BritainAs Great Britain does not have a written constitution, there are noconstitutional provisions for education. The system of education is determined bythe National Education Act.Until recently planning and organization were not controlled by centralgovernment.

Each Local Educational Authority was free to decide how to organizeeducation in its own area. There were wide variations between one part of thecountry and another. In September 1988, however, "The National Curriculum" wasintroduced, which means that there is now greater government control over what istaught in schools and the Secretary of State for Education and Science in theCabinet is responsible for all the schools, universities and teachers in Britain.

Ineach county education in Britain is provided by the Local Education Authority(LEA). It is financed partly by the Government and partly by local taxes.Education in Britain mirrors the country's social system: it is class-divided andselective. The first division is between those who pay and those who do not pay.The majority of schools in Britain are supported by public funds and the educationin them is free.The most popular schools are called comprehensive. There is also aconsiderable number of public (private) schools. Parents must pay fees to sendtheir children to these schools.

The fees are high.School EducationThe National Education Act of 1944 provided three stages of education:primary, secondary and further education. Compulsory schooling in England andWales lasts 11 years, from the age of 5 to 16.Primary education takes place in infant schools (pupils aged from 5 to 7 years)and junior schools (from 8 to 11 years). This marks the transition from play to"real work".Secondary Education (11 to 16/18 years)In 1965 the Labour Government introduced the policy of comprehensiveeducation.

Before that time, all children took an exam at the age of 11 called the''11 + ". Approximately the top 20 per cent were chosen to go to the academicgrammar schools. Those who failed the "11 + " exam (80 per cent) went tosecondary modern schools.A lot of educationalists thought that this system of selection at the age of 11was unfair for many children.

So comprehensive schools were introduced in 1965to offer suitable courses for pupils of all abilities. Pupils at comprehensiveschools are quite often put into "sets" for the more academic subjects. Sets areformed according to ability in each subject.Private Education (5 to 18 years)Some parents prefer to pay for private education in spite of the existence ofFree State education. Private schools are expensive and attended by about 7 percent of the school population.

There are about 500 public schools in England andWales.The schools, such as Eton, Harrow, Rugby and Winchester, are famous andhave a long history and traditions. Public schools educate the ruling class ofEngland. Children of wealthy or aristocratic families often go to the same publicschool as their parents and their grandparents. Eton is one of the most famousprivate schools. The elder son of the Queen Prince Charles left Gordonstoun in1968. Harrow School is famous as the place where Winston Churchill waseducated, as well as six other Prime Ministers of Great Britain, the poet LordByron and many other prominent people.

Public schools are free from state controland called independent. Most of them are boarding schools. The education isusually of a high quality; the discipline is very strict. These schools accept pupilsfrom the preparatory schools at about 11 or 13 years of age. The fundamentalrequirements are very high. At 18 the most public school-leavers gain entry touniversities.The majority of independent secondary schools are single-sex,although in recent years girls have been allowed to join the sixth forms of boys'schools.Independent schools also include religious schools (Jewish, Catholic.

Muslim,etc.) and schools for ethnic minorities.ExamsAt the age of 14 or 15, in the third or fourth form of secondary school, pupilsbegin to choose their exam subjects. In 1988 a new public examination — theGeneral Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) — was introduced for 16year-olds.Many people decide to leave school at the age of 16 and go to a FurtherEducation (FE) College. Here most of the courses are linked to some kind ofpractical vocational training, for example in engineering, typing, cooking orhairdressing. Some young people are given "day release" (their employer allowsthem time off work) so that they can follow a course to help them in their job.

Forthe 16 year-olds who leave school and who cannot find work but do not want to goto Further Education College, the Government introduced the Young OpportunitiesScheme (YOPS). This scheme places young, unemployed people with business oran industry for six months so that they can get experience of work, and pays them asmall wage.

They generally have a better chance of getting a job afterwards andsometimes the company they are placed with offers them a permanent job.After the age of 16 a growing number of school students are staying on atschool, some until 18 or 19, the age of entry into a higher education in universitiesand Polytechnics.Pupils who stay on usually fall into two categories. Some pupils will beretaking GCSEs in order to get better grades. Others will study two or threesubjects for an "A" Level (Advanced Level) GCE exam (General Certificate ofEducation). This is a highly specialized exam and is necessary for Universityentrance.British UniversitiesHow British school leavers enter universities.Good "A" Level results in at least two subjects are necessary to get a place at auniversity.

However, good exam passes alone are not enough. Universities choosetheir students after interviews, and competition for places at university is fierce.There are 46 universities in Britain. The oldest and best-known universities arelocated in Oxford, Cambridge, London, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh,Southampton, Cardiff, Bristol, and Birmingham.British universities differ greatly from each other. They differ in date offoundation, size, history, tradition, general organization, methods of instruction,the way of student life.The two intellectual eyes of Britain which are frequently jointly referred to as"Oxbridge — Oxford and Cambridge universities are the most famous of Britain’suniversities and date back to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The University ofOxford (informally Oxford University or simply Oxford) is located in verypretty town Oxford.

While having no known date of foundation, there is evidenceof teaching as far back as 1096, making it the oldest university in the Englishspeaking world and the world's second-oldest surviving university. It grew rapidlyfrom 1167 when Henry the Second banned English students from attendingthe University of Paris. In 1188 the historian Gerald of Wales gave a publicreading and in 1190 the international scholarship was initiated.

In 1231 it got thename universitas or corporation.The student life was very different from what it is now. Books were veryscarce and all the lessons were in the Latin language which students were supposedtoo speak even among themselves. Students were of all ages and came fromeverywhere. Those from the same part of the country tended to group themselvestogether and these groups, called “Nations”, often fought one another. There wereriots between so-called “gown” and “town”. The students were armed; some evenbanded together to rob the people of the countryside.The story of Cambridge University began in 1209 when several hundredstudents and scholars arrived in the little town of Cambridge after having walked60 miles from Oxford.

Gradually the idea of the College developed, and in 1284Peterhouse, the oldest College in Cambridge, was founded. In 1440 King Henry VIfounded King’s College, and other colleges followed. Erasmus, the great Dutchscholar, was at one of these, Queen’s College, from 1511 to 1513.Both universities achieved eminence already in the medieval time and won thepraises of kings, politicians and popes. In 1355 Edward 111 paid tribute to OxfordUniversity for its invaluable contribution to learning and to the services to the stateby its graduates.Until 1878 only male students were allowed to enter the university but from1920 38 Oxford colleges have changed their laws and started to admit both malesand females.During its history Oxford educated many notable people, including 5 kings, 25prime ministers, 3 saints, 85 archbishops, 18 cardinals and many foreign heads ofstate.

All in all 40 Nobel prize-winners graduated from Oxford.Many other great men studied at Cambridge, among them Bacon, Milton,Cromwell, Newton, Wordsworth, Byron and Tennyson.Today “Oxbridge”, continues to attract many of the best brains thanks to theirprestige and the beauty of many buildings and surroundings. The universitiesoperate the largest university press in the world [and the largest academic librariesin the United Kingdom.Now Oxford and Cambridge Universities are made up of a variety of selfgoverning and independent colleges as parts of the university, each controlling itsown membership and with its own internal structure and activities. They don’thave a main campus; instead, all the buildings and facilities are scatteredthroughout the city centre.At Cambridge and Oxford Universities, students are taught in the tutorialsystem in groups of one to three on a weekly basis.

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