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The system of Education in Great Britain and America


The Education system in England and Wales has developed piecemeal over more than a hundred years. It is a complicated system, full of confusing details, and there are wide variations as between one part of the country to another. Though it is supposed to provide equality of opportunities for all. It is class divided and selective. The first division is between those who pay and those who do not pay; the second, between those selected for an intellectual training and those not so selected. The public schools form the pinnacle of fee-paying education.

The National Education Act of 1944 provided three stages of education: primary, secondary and further education. The years of compulsory schooling are from five to sixteen.

Primary education is up to the age of eleven, covering nursery school or classes (3 to 5), infant school (5 to 7) and junior school (7 to 11).

The transition from primary to secondary school is made up to twelve years. There are three main types of secondary schools. Special tests are set to diagnose each child's abilities and children are allocated to grammar schools, technical schools and modem schools. Some comprehensive schools are open to all children of eleven years of age irrespective of their abilities.

Differences in organisation of education in Britain and America lead to different terms. One crucial word, "school", is used in overlapping but different ways. A place of education for young children is a school in both variants. But a public school in Britain is in fact a "private" school: it is a fee-paying school not controlled by the local educational authority.

The free local authority school in America is a public school. The American grade schools in British English variant is near-equivalent of elementary school. There are different kinds of schools in the USA: public and private, large and small. Public schools, one of the types of high schools, are always big.

Then the American children go to a college, where they study four years. Very few American children — only the children of the rich people — can study at the college, because one must pay a lot of money to study there.

The school year begins in September or October and ends in May or June. In summer and in winter school children and students have their holidays.


Text B

College Life in England

The University of Oxford is a collection of colleges. Some of these colleges were founded hundreds of years ago. The University is only an administrative centre, which arranges lectures for all the students of the colleges, holds examinations and gives degrees. Every college has students of all kinds; it has its medical students, its engineers, its art students, etc. The tutorial system is one of the ways in which Oxford and Cambridge differ from "all other English universities. Every student has a tutor who plans his work. Each week some students come to see him and he discusses with them the work, which they have done. This system has some advantages, but has often operated against progressive thinking in British universities because many tutors are reactionary and they try to hove a great social and political influence on their students. Other English universities called «modern» or «provincial» are located in large centres of industry. There are no tutorial systems there. These universities rely on lectures. Very few children of the working people can be found among the students of all the British universities because the cost of studies is too high. According to official reports only 3 per cent of the whole number of students at the universities are sons and daughters of the working people.

The academic year in England is divided into three terms. Terminal examinations are held at the end of the autumn, spring and the summer terms. Final examinations are taken at the end of the course of studies. If a student fails in an examination he may be allowed to take the exam again. Only two re-examinations are usually allowed. For a break of discipline a student can be fined a sum of money, for a serious offence he may be expelled from the university.

British universities usually keep to the customs of the past. At Oxford University all the students wear long black gowns and students' caps. Undergraduates try to get old gowns so that people would think that they have been at Oxford for years. Without his or her gown no student is allowed to call on a tutor, to have dinner in the college dining room or attend a lecture - where the gowns are rolled up and used as cushions.

Text C

Universities and Colleges

In 1960 there were only 23 British universities. There are now 46, of which 35 are in England, 8 in Scotland, 2 in Northern Ireland and 1 in Wales. They can be roughly divided into three groups.

Oxford and Cambridge: Scholars were studying in these ancient universities in the early thirteenth century. Since that time Oxford and Cambridge have continued to grow, but until the nineteenth century they were the only universities in England, and

they offered no places to girls. 

Four universities were founded in Scotland before Scotland and England were united: St Andrews (1411), Glasgow (1450), Aberdeen (1494) and Edinburgh (1583).

     The redbrick universities: In this group are listed all universities founded between 1850 and 1930, including London University. They were called "redbrick" because that was the favourite building material of the time, but they are rarely referred to as "redbrick' today.

The new universities: These were all founded after the Second World War. Some of them quickly became popular because of their modern approach to university courses.


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