British education helps to develop fully the abilities ofindividuals, for their own benefit and of society as a whole. Compulsoryschooling takes place between the ages of 5 and 16, but some pupilsremain at shool for 2 years more, to prepare for further highereducation. Post-school education is organized flexibly, to provide a widerange of opportunities for academic and vacational education and tocontinue studying through out life.
Administration of state schools is decentralised. The department ofeducation and science is responsible for national education policy, butit doesn’t run any schools, it doesn’t employ teachers, or prescribecorricular or textbooks. All shools are given a considerable amount offreedom. According to the law only one subject is compulsory. That isreligious instruction.
Children recieve preschool education under the age of 5 in nurseryschools or in infant’s classes in primary schools.
Most pupils receive free education funded from public fonds and thesmall proportions attend wholly independent schools. Most independentschools are single-sex, but the number of mixed schools is growing.
Education within the maintained schools system usually comprises twostages: primary and secondary education. Primary schools are subdividedinto infant schools (ages 5 – 7) and junior schools (ages 7 – 11).Infant schools are informal and children are encouraged to read, writeand make use of numbers and develop the creative abilities. Primarychildren do all their work with the same class teacher exept for PT andmusic.
The junior stage lasts for four years. Children have set periods ofarithmetic, reading, composition, history, geography, nature study andothers. At this stage of schooling pupils were often placed in A, B, Cand D streams according their abilities. The most able children were putin the A stream, the least able in the D stream. Till recently mostjunior school children had to take the eleven-plus examination. Itusually 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 schoolsbegan to appear after World War II. They are mixed schools whichcan provide education for over 1000 pupils. Ideally they provide all thecourses given in Grammar, Technical and Secondary modern schools.
By the law all children must receive full-time education between theages of 5 and 16. Formally each child can remain in school for further2 or 3 years and continue his studies in the sixth form up to the age of18 or 19. The course is usually subdivided into the lower 6 and theupper 6. The curriculum is narrowed to 5 subjects of which a pupil canchoose 2 or 3.
The main examinations for secondary school pupils are generalcertificate of education (the GCE) exam and certificate of secondaryeducation (the CSE) exam. The GSE exam is held at two levels: ordinarylevel (0 level) and advanced level (A level).
Candidates sit for 0-level papers at 15 – 16 years. GCE level isusually taken at the end on the sixth form. The CSE level exam is takenafter 5 years of secondary education by the pupils who are of averageabilities for their age.