The British education system has much in common with that in Europe,
. Full-time education is compulsory for all children in the middle teenage years. Parents are required by law to see that their children receive full-time education, at school or elsewhere, between the ages of 5 and 16 in England, Scotland and Wales 4 and
16 in Northern Ireland.
. The academic year begins at the end of summer.
Compulsory education is free charge, though parents may choose a private school and spend their money on education their children.
About 93% of pupils receive free education from public funds, while the others attend independent schools financed by fees paid by parents.
. There are three stages of schooling with children, moving from primary school to secondary school. The third stage provides further and higher education, technical college of higher education and universities.
There is, however, quite a lot that distinguishes education in Britain from
the way it works in other countries. The most important distinguishing
features are the lack of uniformity and comparatively little central
control. There are three separate government departments managing
education: the Departments for Education and Employment is responsible for
England and Wales alone; Scotland and Northern Ireland retain control over
the education within their respective countries. None of these bodies
exercises much control over the details does not prescribe a detailed
program of learning, books and materials to be used, nor does it dictate
the exact hours of the school day, the exact days of holidays, school’s
finance management and such lick. As many details possible are left to the
discretion of the individual institution.
Many distinctive characteristics of British education can be
ascribed at least partly, to public school tradition. The present-day level
of “grass-root” independence as well as different approach to education has
been greatly influenced by the philosophy that a school is its own
community. The 19th century public schools educated the sons of the upper
and upper-middle classes and the main aim of schooling was to prepare young
men to take up positions in the higher ranks of the army, the Church, to
fill top-jobs in business, the legal profession, the civil serves and
politics. To meet this aim the emphasis was made on “character-building”
and the development of “team spirit” rather than on academic achievement.
Such schools were (and still often are) mainly boarding establishments,
so they had a deep and lasting influence on their pupils, consequently,
public-school leaves for formed a closed group entry into which was
difficult, the ruling elite the core of the Establishment.
The 20th century brought education and its possibilities for social
advanced within everybody’s reach, and new, state schools naturally tended
to copy the features of the public schools. So today, in typically British
fashion, learning for its own sake, rather than for any practical purpose
is still been given a high value. As distinct from most other countries, a
relatively stronger emphasis is on the quality of person that education
produces rather than helping people to develop useful knowledge and skills.
In other words, the general style of teaching is to develop understanding
rather than acquiring factual knowledge and learning to apply this
knowledge to specific tasks.
2.Public Schools – For Whom?
About five per cent of children are educated privately in what is
rather confusingly called public schools. These are the schools for the
privileged. There are about 500 public schools in England and Wales most of
them single-sex. About half of them are for girls.
The schools, such as Eton, Harrow, Rugby and Winchester, are
famous for their ability to lay the foundation of a successful future by
giving their pupils self- confidence, the right accent, a good academic
background and, perhaps most important of all, the right friends and
contacts. People who went to one of the public schools never call
themselves school-leaves. They talk about “the old school tie” and “the old
boy network”. They are just old boys or old girls. The fees are high and
only very rich families can afford to pay so much. Public schools educate
the ruling class of England. One such school is Gordonstoun, which the
Prince of Wales, the elder son of the Queen, left in 1968. Harrow School is
famous as the place where Winston Churchill was educated, as well as six
other Prime Ministers of England, the poet Lord Byron, the playwright
Richard Sheridan and many other prominent people.
Public schools are free from state control. They are independent.
Most of them are boarding schools. The education is of a high quality; the
discipline is very strict. The system of education is the same: the most
able go ahead.
These schools accept pupils from preparatory schools at about 11
or 13 years of age usually on the basis of an examination, known as Common
Entrance. There are three sittings of Common Entrance every year in
February, June and November. Scholarships are rarely awarded on the results
of Common Entrance. The fundamental requirements are very high. At 18 most
public school-leaves, gain entry to universities.
Great Britain does not have a written constitution, so there are
no constitutional provisions for education. The system of education is
determined by the National Education Acts.
Schools in England are supported from public funds paid to the
local education authorities. These local education authorities are
responsible for organizing the schools in their areas.
Let’s outline the basic features of public education in Britain.
Firstly, there are wide variations between one part of the country and
another. For most educational purposes England and Wales are treated as one
unit, though the system in Wales is a little different from that of
England. Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own education systems.
Secondly, education in Britain mirrors the country’s social
system: it is class-divided and selective. 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 education provided is free. They are
maintained schools, but there are also a considerable number of public
schools. Parents have to pay fees to send their children to these schools.
The fees are high. As matter of fact, only very rich families can send
their children to public schools. In some parts of Britain they still keep
the old system of grammar schools, which are selective. But most secondary
schools in Britain, which are called comprehensive schools, are not
selective – you don’t have to pass an exam to go there.
Another important feature of schooling in Britain is the variety
of opportunities offered to schoolchildren. The English school syllabus is
divided into Arts and Sciences, which determine the division of the
secondary school pupils into study groups: a Science pupil will study
Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Economics, Technical Drawing, Biology,
geography; an Art pupil will do English Language and Literature, History,
foreign languages, Music, Art, Drama. Besides these subjects they must do
some general education subjects like Physical Education, Home Economics for
girls, and Technical subjects for boys, General Science. Computers play an
important part in education. The system of options exists in all kinds of
The National Curriculum, which was introduced in 1988, sets out
detail the subjects that children should study and the levels of
achievement they should reach by the ages of 7, 11, 14, and 16, when they
are tested. Until that year headmasters and headmistresses of schools were
given a great deal of freedom in deciding what subjects to teach and how to
do it in their schools so that there was really no central, control at all
over individual schools. The National Curriculum does not apply in
Scotland, where each school decides what subjects it will teach.
After the age of 16 a growing number of school students are
staying on at school, some until 18 or 19, the age of entry into higher
education in universities, Polytechnics or colleges. Schools in Britain
provide careers guidance. A specially trained person called careers advisor
or careers officer helps school students to decide what job they want to do
and how they can achieve it.
British university courses are rather short, generally lasting
for 3 years. The cost of education depends on the college or university and
special which one chooses.
4.Education in Britain.
|class |school |age |
| |nursery school |3 |
| |playgroup or |4 |
| |kindergarten | |
|reception class | |5 |
|year 1 |infant school |6 |
|year 2 | |7 |
|year 3 |primary school |8 |
|year 4 |junior school |9 |
|year 5 | |10 |
|year 6 | |11 |
|year 7 | |12 |
|year 8 | |13 |
|year 9 |secondary school |14 |
|year 10 | |15 |
|year 11 | |16 |
|year 12 |sixth form college |17 |
|year 13 | |18 |
|first year (fresher) | |19 |
|second year |University or |20 |
|third/final year |Polytechnic |21 |
|postgraduate |University |23 |
5.Pre-primary and Primary Education.
In some of England there are nursery schools for children under 5
years of age. Some children between two and five receive education in
nursery classes or in infants’ classes in primary schools. Many children
attend informal pre-school playgroups organized by parents in private
homes. Nursery schools are staffed with teachers and students in training.
There are all kinds of toys to keep the children busy from 9 o’clock in the
morning till 4 o’clock in the afternoon while their parents are at work.
Here the babies play, lunch and sleep. They can run about and play in
safety with someone keeping an eye on them.
For day nurseries, which remain open all the year round, the
parents pay according to their income. The local education authority’s
nurseries are free. But only about three children in 100 can go to them:
there aren’t enough places and the waiting lists are rather long.
Most children start school at five in primary school. A primary
school may be divided into two parts-infants and juniors. At infants school
reading, writing and arithmetic are taught for about 20 minutes a day
during the first year, gradually increasing to about 2 hours in their last
year. There is usually no written timetable. Much time is spent in modeling
from clay or drawing, reading or singing.
By the time children are ready for the junior school they will be
able to read and write, do simple addition and subtraction of numbers.
At seven children go on from the infants’ school to the junior
school. This marks the transition from play to “real work”. The children
have set periods of arithmetic, reading and composition which are all
Eleven Plus subjects. History, Geography, Nature Study, Art and Music,
Physical Education, Swimming are also on the timetable.
Pupils are streamed, according to their ability to learn into, A, B, C and
D streams. The least gifted are in the D stream. Formerly towards the end
of their fourth year the pupils wrote their Eleven Plus Examination. The
hated 11 + examination was a selective procedure on which not only the
pupil’s future schooling but their future careers depended. The abolition
of selection at Eleven plus Examination brought to life comprehensive
schools where pupils can get secondary education.
The majority of state secondary school pupils in England and
Wales attend comprehensive schools. These largely take pupils without
reference to ability or aptitude and provide a wide range of secondary
education for all or most children in a district. Schools take those, who
are the 11 to 18 age-range, middle schools (8 to 14), and schools with an
age-range from 11 to 16. Most other state-educated children in England
attend grammar or secondary modern schools, to which they are allocated
after selection procedures at the age of 11.
Before 1965 a selective system of secondary education existed in
England. Under that system a child of 11 had to take an exam, which
consisted of intelligence tests covering linguistic, mathematical and
general knowledge which was to be taken by children in the last year of
primary schooling. The object was to select between academic and non-
academic children. Those who did well in the examination went to a grammar
school, while those who failed went to a secondary modern school and
technical college. Grammar schools prepared children for national
examinations such as the GCE at O level and A-level. These examinations
qualified children for the better jobs, and for entry higher education and
the professions. The education in secondary modern schools was based on
practical schooling, which would allow entry into a variety of skilled and
Many people complained that it was wrong for a person’s future to
be decided at a so young age. The children who went to “secondary moderns”
were seen as “failures”. More over, it was noticed that the children who
passed this exam were almost all from middle-class families. The Labor
Party, returned to power in 1965, abolished the 11+ and tried to introduce
the non-selective education system in the form of “comprehensive” schools,
that would provide schooling for children of all ability levels and from
all social backgrounds, ideally under one roof. The final choice between
selective and non-selective schooling, though, was left to LEAS that
controlled the provision of school education in the country. Some
authorities decided for comprehensive, while others retained grammar
schools and secondary moderns.
In the late 1980s the Conservative government introduced another
major change. Schools cloud now decide whether to remain as LEA-maintained
schools or to “opt-out” of the control of the LEA and put themselves
directly under the control of the government department. These “grant-
maintained” schools were financed directly by central government. This did
not mean, however, that there was more central control: grant-maintained
schools did not have to ask anybody else about how to spend their money.
A recent development in education administration in England and
Wales in the School Standards and Framework Act passed in July 1998. The
Act established that from 1.09.1999 all state school education authorities
with the ending of the separate category of grant maintained status.
There are some grant-maintained or voluntary aided schools,
called City Technology Colleges. In 1999 there were 15 City Technology
Colleges in England. These are non-fee-paying independent secondary schools
created by a partnership of government and private sector sponsors. The
promoters own or lease the schools, employ teachers and make substantial
contributions to the costs of building and equipment. The colleges teach
the NC, but with an emphasis on mathematics, technology and science.
So, today three types of state schools mainly provide secondary
education: secondary modern schools grammar schools and comprehensive
schools. There should also be mentioned another type of schools, called
specialist schools. The specialist school programmer in England was
launched in 1993. Specialist schools are state secondary schools
specializing in technology, science and mathematics; modern foreign
languages; sports; arts.
State schools are absolutely free (including all textbooks and
exercise books) and generally co-educational.
Under the NC a greater emphasis at the secondary level is laid on
science and technology. Accordingly, ten subjects have to be studied:
English, history, geography, mathematics, science, a modern foreign
language, technology, music, art and physical education. For special
attention there of these subjects (called “core subjects”): English,
science, mathematics and seven other subjects are called “foundation or
statuary subjects”. Besides, subjects are grouped into departments and
teachers work in teams and to plan work.
Most common departments are:
. Humanities Departments: geography, history, economics, English literature, drama, social science;
. Craft Design and Technology Departments: information and communications technology, computing, home economics and photography.
The latter brings together the practical subjects like cooing,
woodwork, sewing, and metalwork with the new technology used in those
fields. Students can design a T-shirt on computer using graphics software
and make-up the T-shirt design. Students can also look at way to market
their product, thus linking all disciplines. This subject’s area
exemplifies the process approach to learning introduced by the NC.
It is worth mentioning here the growing importance of personal
and Social Education. Since the 1970s there has been an emphasis on
“pastoral” care, education in areas related to life skills such as health
(this includes looking at drug, discussing physical changes related to
poverty, sex education and relationship). There are usually one or two
lessons a week, from primary school through to sixth form and they are an
essential part of the school’s aim to prepare students to life in society.
Education in Britain is not solely concentrated on academic
study. Great value is placed on visits and activities like organizing the
school club or field trips, which are educational in a more general sense.
The organization of these activities by teachers is very much taken for
granted in the British school system. Some teachers give up their free
time, evenings and weekends to do this “unpaid” work. At Christmas teachers
organized concerts, parties and general festivities. It is also considered
a good thing to be “seen” to be doing this extra work since it is fairly
essential for securing promotion in the school hierarchy.
Classes of pupils are called “forms” (though it has recently
become common to refer to “years”) and are numbered from one to beginning
with first form. Nearly all schools work a five-day week and are closed on
Saturdays. The day starts at nine o’clock and finishes between three and
four. The lunch break usually lasts about an hour-and-a-quarter. Nearly two-
thirds of pupils have lunch provided by the school. Parents pay for this
except for the 15 per cent who are rated poor enough and have it for free.
Other children either go home for lunch or take sandwiches.
Schools usually divide their year into tree “terms” starting at
the beginning of September:
Passage from one year to the next one is automatic. At the age of
14 pupils are tested in English, mathematics and science, as well as in
statutory subjects. At that same age in the third or forth pupils begin to
choose their exam subjects and work for two years to prepare for their
qualifications. The exams are usually taken in fifth form at the age of 16,
which is a school-leaving age. The actual written exams are set by outside
examiners, but they must be approved by the government and comply with
national guidelines. There are several examination boards in Britain and
each school decided that board’s exam its pupils take. Most exams last for
two hours, marks are given for each exams separately and are graded from A
to G (grades A, B, C are considered to be “good” marks).
16 are an important age for school-leaves because they have to
make key decisions as to their future lives and careers. There is a number
of choices for them.
7.Life at School.
The school year is divided into terms, three months each, named
after seasons: autumn term, winter term and spring term.
The autumn term starts on the first Tuesday morning in September.
In July schools break up for eight weeks.
Life at school is more or less similar everywhere. Each group of
30 pupils is the responsibility of a form tutor. Each school day is divided
into periods of 40-50 minutes, time for various lessons with 10-20 minutes
breaks between them. It might be interesting for you to see the “Bell
Times” at Lawnswood school in Leads.
8.40 a.m. – School begins
8.45 a.m. – Registration
8.50 a.m. – Assembly bell
9.00 a.m. – Pupils move to lessons
9.05 a.m. – Lesson 1
9.45 a.m. - Lesson 2
10.25 a.m. – Lesson 3
11.25 a.m. – Lesson 3
11.05 a.m. – Break
11.25 a.m. – Pupils move to lessons
11.30 a.m. – Lesson 4
12.10 p.m. – Lesson 5
12.50 p.m. – Lunch time
1.40 p.m. – Afternoon school begins
1.45 p.m. – Registration
1.50 p.m. – Lesson 6
2.30 p. m. Lesson 7
3.10 p.m. – End of normal lessons
3.10 p.m. – Start of additional lessons, clubs, societies, team practice,
On important occasions such as end of term or national holiday,
called in English schools speech-days pupils are gathered in the assembly
Most of the pupil’s time is spent in a classroom equipped with
desks and a blackboard nowadays often called chalkboard because normally it
is brown or green. The desks are arranged in rows, the space between the
rows is called an aisle.
In addition to classrooms there are laboratories for Physics,
Chemistry and Biology. Technical rooms are for Woodwork, Metalwork,
Technical Drawing. There are rooms for computer studies. Many young people
use them for school exercise. They are now able to write their own games as
well. The Physical Education lessons are conducted at the gymnasium, games-
hall or at the playground in front of the school building. There are also
language laboratories and house craft rooms. Every school has a library and
a school canteen. In student common room boys and girls can relax during
the breaks and lunchtime the Staff common room is for teachers. In case of
illness a schoolchild may go to the sick room.
Pupils at many secondary schools Britain have to wear a school
uniform. This usually means a white blouse for girls (perhaps with a tie),
with a dark-colored skirt and pullover. Boys wear a shirt and tie, dark
trousers and dark-colored pullovers. Pupils also wear blazers-a kind of
jacket-with the school badge on the pocket. They often have to wear some
kind of hat on the way to and from school-caps for boys and berets or some
other kind of hat for girls shoes are usually black or brown. And no high
Young people in Britain often don’t like their school uniform,
especially the hats and shoes. Sometimes they do not wear the right
clothes. Schools will often give them a warning the first time that this
happens but then will punish them if they continue not to wear the correct
uniform. Senior student don’t have to wear their school uniform.
It sounds logical to say that the school’s function is to train a
pupil’s mind and his character should be formed at home. Teachers would be
pleased if the problem could be solved so easily. But children don’t leave
their characters at home when their minds go to school. Many of them have
personality problems of one kind or another.
The pupils who violate various school regulations may be punished in
the following ways: for lateness, truancy they may be reported to the
Headmaster or named in school assembly. They may be detained in school
after ordinary hours.
Corporal punishment has recently been banned in state schools. But in
most public schools it is still allowed. Caning is the usual punishment for
serious misbehavior in class, damage and vandalism. Many teachers remark
that standards of discipline have fallen since corporal punishment was
banned by the government.
You may want to know whether there are any rewards and prizes for the
best pupils. Of course, there are. Each school has its system of rewards:
medals and prizes.
8.Social, Cultural and Sporting Life
Each school or sixth-form college has its School or College Council.
It helps to plan the policy for the whole school. It organizes the social
and cultural life at the school.
School Councils in many schools and colleges are chaired by a student
and have a majority of student members. They run discos and parties, stage
drama productions and decorate the student common room. Music-making is
part of school life. Some students help in local hospitals, homes for the
handicapped and elderly people.
There are many clubs and societies. Very popular, especially with
senior pupils, is à school debating society.
Most clubs meet regularly: daily, weekly or monthly, at lunch time or
after school. Extracurricular activities include various outings, visits to
places of interest and dances. School choirs and orchestras give regular
concerts. Sports are very popular too: running, jogging, swimming, self-
defence, football, soccer, badminton, aerobics, rugby, etc.
There are many national voluntary youth organizations in Britain. You
have probably read about the Scout and Girl Guides Associations. There are
some clubs run by the churches. There three pre-service organizations (the
Sea Cadet Corps, Army, Cadet Force and Air Training Corps) are not very
large. Their activities are related to the work of the armed forces.
But the largest youth organizations, as you probably know, are the
associations of the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides. There are about
1,300,000 boys and girls in them. The movement of Boy Scouts was founded by
General Baden-Powell in 1908 and began to spring up in almost every town
and village of the British Isles. Its aim is to help I à Scout (à boy from
8 to 18) to develop into à good man and à useful citizen. He must be able
to handle sails, to use à compass, to lay and light à fire out of doors, he
must know first aid and develop his interest in music, literature, drama,
arts and films. A Scout is à friend to animals, he is 'clean in thought,
word and deed’. He must obey the Scout Law.
The Girl Guides Association was founded by Lord Baden-Powell in 1910.
It is divided into three sections: Brownies (from 7,5 tî 11), Guides (age
11 — 16) and Rangers (age 16 — 21). The programmer of training is planned
to develop intelligence and practical skills inculding cookery, needle-work
and childcare. The training and the Law are much the same as those of the
Scouts. Like à Scout à Girl Guide must be à friend to animals. She must be
‘pure in thought, word and deed’. She must be loyal to God and the Queen.
There are several youth organizations associated with political
parties. The Youth Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (YCND) unites thousands
of young people of Great Britain. It co-operates with the National Union of
Students and many other youth organizations. It organizes mass rallies and
meetings, demonstrations, marches of protest, festivals.
9.Life at College and University
The academic year in Britain' s universities, Polytechnics, Colleges
of Education is divided into three terms, which usually run from the
beginning of October to the middle of December, from the middle of January
to the end of March, and from the middle of April to the end of June or the
beginning of July.
There are about one hundred universities in Britain. The oldest and
best-known universities are located in Oxford, Cambridge, London, Leeds,
Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Southampton, Cardiff, Bristol,
Good À-level results in at least two subjects are necessary to get à
place at à university. However, good exam passes alone are not enough.
Universities choose their students after interviews. For all British
citizens à place at à university brings with it à grant from their local
English universities greatly differ from each other. They differ in
date of foundation, size, history, tradition, general organization, methods
of instruction, way of student life.
After three years of study à university graduate will leave with the
Degree of Bachelor of Arts, Science, Engineering, Medicine, etc. Later he
may continue to take à Master’s Degree and then à Doctor’s Degree. Research
is an important feature of university work.
The two intellectual eyes of Britain — Oxford and Cam- bridge
Universities — date from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
The Scottish universities of St. Andrews, Glasgow, Àberdeen and
Edinburgh date from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
In the nineteenth and the early part of the twentieth centuries the
so-called Redbrick universities were founded. These include London,
Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield and Birmingham. During the late
sixties and early seventies some 20 'new' universities were set up.
Sometimes they are called 'concrete and glass' universities. Among them are
the universities of Sussex, York, East Anglia and some others.
During these years the Government set up thirty Polytechnics. The
Polytechnics, like the universities, offer first and higher degrees. Some
of them offer full-time and sandwich courses. Colleges of Education provide
two-year courses in teacher education or sometimes three years if the
graduate specializes in some particular subject.
Some of those who decide to leave school at the age of 16 may go tî à
further education college where they can follow à course in typing,
engineering, town planning, cooking, or hairdressing, full-time or part-
time. Further education colleges have strong ties with commerce and
There is an interesting form of studies which is called the Open
University. It is intended for people who study in their own free time and
who attend" lectures by watching television and listening to the radio.
They keep in touch by phone and letter with their tutors and attend summer
schools. The Open University students have nî formal qualifications and
would be unable to enter ordinary universities.
Some 80,000 overseas students study at British universities or further
education colleges or train in nursing, law, banking or in industry.
As has been mentioned above, there is a considerable enthusiasm for
post-school education in Britain. The aim of the government is to increase
the number of students who enter into higher education. The driving force
for this has been mainly economic. It is assumed that the more people who
study at degree level, the more likely the country is to succeed
economically. A large proportion of young people – about a third in England
and Wales and almost half in Scotland – continue in education at a more A-
level beyond the age of 18. The higher education sector provides a variety
of courses up to degree and postgraduate degree level, and careers out
research. It increasingly caters for older students; over 50% of students
in 1999 were aged 25 and over and many studied part-time. Nearly every
university offers access and foundation courses before enrolment on a
course of higher education of prospective students who do not have the
standard entry qualifications.
Higher education in Britain is traditionally associated with
universities, though education of University standard is also given in
other institutions such as colleges and institutes of higher education,
which have the power to award their own degrees.
The only exception to state universities is the small University of
Buckingham which concentrates on law, and which draws most of its students
All universities in England and Wales are state universities (this
includes Oxford and Cambridge).
English universities can be broadly classified into three types. First
come the ancient universities of Oxford and Cambridge that date from the
12th century and that until 1828 were virtually the only English
Oxford and Cambridge are the oldest and most prestigious universities
in Great Britain. They are often called collectively Oxbridge. Both
universities are independent. Only the education elite go to Oxford or
Cambridge. Most of their students are former public schools leavers.
The normal length of the degree course is three years, after which the
students take the Degree of Bachelor of Arts (Â.À.). Some courses, such as
languages or medicine, bay be one or two years longer. The students may
work for other degrees as well. The degrees are awarded at public degree
ceremonies'. Oxford and Cambridge cling to their traditions, such as the
use of Latin at degree ceremonies. Full academic dress is worn at
Oxford and Cambridge universities consist of à number of colleges.
Each college is different, but in many ways they are alike. Each
college has its name, its coat of arms. Each college is governed by a
Master. The larger ones have more than 400 members, the smallest colleges
have less than 30. Each college offers teaching in à wide range of
subjects. Within, the college one will normally find à chapel, à dining
hall, à library, rooms for undergraduates, fellows and the Master, and also
rooms for teaching purposes.
Oxford is one of the oldest universities in Europe. It is the second
largest in Britain, after I.ondon. The town of Oxford is first mentioned in
the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 911 À.D. and it was popular with the early
English kings (Richard Coeur de Lion' was probably here). The university's
earliest charter" is dated tî 1213.
There are now twenty-four colleges for men, five for women and another
five which have both men and women members, many from overseas studying for
higher degrees. Among the oldest colleges are University College, All Souls
and Christ Church.
The local car industry in East Oxford gives an important addition to
the city' s outlook. There à great deal of bi- cycle traffic both in Oxford
The first written record of the town of Oxford dates back to the year
912. Oxford University, the oldest and most famous university in Britain,
was founded in the middle of the 12th century and by 1300 there were
already 1,500 students. At that time Oxford was a wealthy town, but by the
middle of the 14th century it was poorer, because of a decline in trade and
because of the terrible plague, which killed many people in England. The
relations between the students and the townspeople were very unfriendly and
there was often fighting in the streets.
Nowadays there are about 12,000 students in Oxford and over 1000
teachers. Outstanding scientists work in the numerous colleges of the
University teaching and doing research work in physics, chemistry,
mathematics, cybernetics, literature, modern and ancient languages, art and
Oxford University has a reputation of a privileged school. Many
prominent political figures of the past and present times got their
education at Oxford.
The Oxford English Dictionary is well-known to students of English
everywhere. It contains approximately 5,000,000 entries, and there are
thirteen volumes, including a supplement.
Oxford University Press, the publishing house which produces the
Oxford English Dictionary has a special department called the Oxford Word
and Language Service.
Cambridge University started during the 13th century and grew until
today. Now there are more than thirty colleges.
On the banks of the Cam'4 willow trees drown their branches into the water.
The colleges line the right bank. There are beautiful college gardens with
green lawns and lines of tall trees. The oldest college is Peterhouse,
which was founded in 1284, and the most recent is Robinson College, which
was opened in 1977. The most famous is probably King' s College" because of
its magnificent chapel, the largest and the most beautiful building in
Cambridge and the most perfect example left of English fifteenth-century
architecture. Its choir of boys and undergraduates is also very well known.
The University was only for men until 1871, when the first women' s college
was opened. In the 1970s, most col- leges opened their doors to both men
and women. Almost all colleges are now mixed.
Ìàïó great men studied at Cambridge, among them Desiderius Erasmus", the
great Dutch scholar, Roger Bacon", the philosopher, Milton, the poet,
Oliver Cromwell", the soldier, Newton, the scientist, and Kapitza, the
famous Russian physicist.
The universities have over à hundred societies and clubs, enough for every
interest one could imagine. Sport is part of students' life at Oxbridge.
The most popular sports are rowing and punting.
The Cambridge Folk Festival. Every year, in summer, one of the biggest
festivals of folk music in arrive in Cambridge for the Festival. Many of
the fans put up their tents to stay overnight. The Cambridge Folk Festival
is always very well organized and there is always good order. However, some
people who live nearby do not like Festival. They say that there is too
much noise, that too much rubbish is left on the ground, and that many of
the fans take drugs. On the other hand, local shopkeepers are glad, because
for them the Festival means a big increase in the number of customers.
The second group of universities comprises various institutions of
higher education, usually with technical study, that by 1900 had sprang up
in new industrial towns and cities such as Birmingham, Manchester,
Sheffield and Leeds. They got to be know as civic or ‘redbrick’
universities. Their buildings were made of local material, often brick, in
contrast to the stone of older universities, hence the name, ‘redbrick’.
These universities catered mostly for local people. At first they prepared
students for London University degree, but later they were given the right
to award their own degrees, and so became universities themselves. In the
mid-20th century they started to accept students from all over the country.
The third group consists of new universities founded after the Second
World War and later in the 1960s, which saw considerable expansion in new
universities. These are purpose-built institutions located in the
countryside but close to towns. Examples are East Anglia, Sussex and
Warwick. From their beginning they attracted students from all over the
country, and provided accommodation for most of their students in site
(hence their name, ‘campus’ universities). They tend to emphasise
relatively ‘new’ academic disciplines such as social science and make
greater use than other universities of teaching in small groups, often
known as ‘seminars’.
Among this group there are also universities often called ‘never
civic’ universities. These were originally technical colleges set up by
local authorities in the first half of this century. Their upgrading to
university status took place in two waves. The first wave occurred in the
mid-1960s, when ten of them were promoted in this way.
Another thirty became ‘polytechnics’, in the early 1970s, which meant
that along with their former courses they were allowed to teach degree
courses (the degrees being awarded by a national body). Polytechnics were
originally expected to offer a broader-based, more practical and vocational
education than the universities. In the early 1990s most of the
polytechnics became universities. So there are now 80 universities and a
further 19 colleges and institutions of higher education in the UK. The
country has moved rapidly from a rather elitist system to one which is much
more open, if not yet a mass system of higher education.
Higher education in England and Wales is highly selective; i.e.
entrance to British universities is via a strict selection process is based
on an interview. Applications for first degree courses are usually made
through the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS), in
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. After the interview a potential student is
offered a place on the basis of GCE A-level exam results. If the student
does not get the grades specified in the offer, a place can not be taken
up. Some universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge, have an entrance exam
before the interview stage.
This kind of selection procedure means that not everyone in Britain
with A-level qualifications will be offered the chance of a university
education. Critics argue that this creates an elitist system with the
academic minority in society whilst supporters of the system argue that
this enables Britain to get high-quality graduates who have specialized
skills. The current system will be modified by the late 90s and into the
21st century, since secondary system is moving towards a broader-based
education to replace the specialized ‘A’ level approach. The reasons for
this lie in Britain’s need to have a highly skilled and educated workforce,
not just an elite few, to meet the needs of the technological era.
The independence of Britain’s educational institutions is most
noticeable in universities. They make their own choices of who to accept on
their courses and normally do this on the basis of a student’s A-level
results and an interview. Those with better exam grades are more likely to
be accepted. Virtually all degree courses last three years, however there
are some four-year courses and medical and veterinary courses last five or
six years. The British University year is divided into three terms, roughly
eight to ten weeks each. The terms are crowded with activity and the
vacations between the terms – a month at Christmas, a month at Easter, and
three or four months in summer – are mainly periods of intellectual
digestion and private study.
The courses are also ‘full-time’ which really means full-time: the
students are not supposed to take a lob during term time. Unless their
parents are rich, they receive a state grant of money, which covers most of
their expenses including the cost of accommodation. Grants and loans are
intended to create opportunities for equality in education. A grants system
was set up to support students through university. Grants are paid by the
LEA on the basis of parental income. In the late 80s (the Conservative)
government decided to stop to increase these grants, which were previously
linked to inflation. Instead, students were able to borrow money in the
form of a low-interest loan, which then had to be paid back after their
course had finished. Critics argue that students from less affluent
families had to think twice before entering the course, and that this
worsened the trend which saw a 33% drop in working-class student numbers in
Students studying for the first degree are called undergraduates. At the
end of the third year of study undergraduates sit for their examinations
and take the bachelor’s degree. Those engaged in the study of arts such
subjects as history, languages, economics or law take Bachelor of Arts
(BA). Students studying pure or applied sciences such as medicine,
dentistry, technology or agriculture get Bachelor of Science (BSc). When
they have been awarded the degree, they are known as graduates. Most people
get honours degrees, awarded in different classes. These are: Class I
(known as ‘a first’), Class II, I (or ‘an upper second’), Class II, II (or
‘a lower second’), Class III (‘a third’). A student who is below one of
these gets a pass degree (i.e. not an honours degree).
Students who obtain their Bachelor degree can apply to take a further
degree course, usually involving a mixture of exam courses and research.
There are two different types of post-graduate courses – the Master’s
Degree (MA or MSc), which takes one or two years, and the higher degree of
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), which takes two or three years. Funding for
post-graduate courses is very limited, and even students with first class
degrees may be unable to get a grant. Consequently many post-graduates have
heavy bank loans or are working to pay their way to a higher degree.
The university system also provides a national network of extra-mural or
‘Continuing Education’ Departments which offer academic courses for adults
who wish to study – often for the sheer pleasure of study – after they have
left schools of higher education.
One development in education in which Britain can claim to lead the
world is the Open University. It was founded in 1969 in Milton Keynes,
Buckinghamshire and is so called because it is open to all – this
university does not require any formal academic qualifications to study for
a degree, and many people who do not have an opportunity to be ‘ordinary’
students enroll. The university is non-residential and courses are mainly
taught by special written course books and by programmes on state radio and
television. There are, however, short summer courses of about a week that
the students have to attend and special part-time study centers where they
can meet their tutors when they have problems.
As mentioned above, the British higher education system was added to
in the 1970s, which saw the creation of colleges and institutions of higher
education, often by merging existing colleges or by establishing new
institutions. They now offer a wide range of degree, certificate and
diploma courses in both science and art, and in some cases have
specifically taken over the role of training teachers for the schools.
There are also a variety of other British higher institutions, which
offer higher education. Some, like the Royal College of Arts, the Cornfield
Institute of Technology and various Business Schools, have university
status, while others, such as agricultural, drama and arts colleges like
the Royal Academy of Dramatics Arts (RADA) and the Royal college of Music
provide comparable courses. All these institutions usually have a strong
vocational aspect in their programmes, which fills a specialized role in
The word “science” comes from the Latin word “scientia”, which means
“knowledge”. Scientists make observations and collect facts in field they
work in. Then they arrange facts orderly and try to express the connection
between the facts and try to work out theories. Then they have to prove the
facts or theory correct and make sufficient and sound evidence. So
scientific knowledge is always growing and improving.
Science has great influence on our life. It provides with base of
modern technology, materials, sources of power and so on. Modern science
and technology have changed our life in many different ways. During the
present century our life changed greatly. Thanks to radio and television we
can do a great number of jobs; it was radio and TV that made it possible to
photograph the dark side of the moon and to talk with the first cosmonaut
while he was orbiting the Earth. On of the wonders of our age is the
“electronic brain”, or giant calculating machine, which can to some extent
duplicate human senses. The desk computer is expected to function as your
personal librarian, to carry out simple optimization computations, to
control your budget or diet, play several hundred games, etc. further
development of the computer is believed to lead to a situation in which
most of the knowledge accepted by mankind will be stored in the computers
and made accessible to anyone with the home computers. It is natural that
the advent of minicomputers with extensive memories and possibilities will
lead to a new higher level in information culture. Among other things, we
shall be able to organize educational process in the country’s colleges and
universities and also in the system of school education on a new basic.
Knowledge is the most valuable wealth, and minicomputers will help us to
make it accessible for everyone. Agricultural scientists develop better
varieties of plants. The development of antibiotics and other drugs has
helped to control many diseases. Studies in anatomy and physiology have let
to amazing surgical operations and the inventions of lifesaving machines,
that can do the work of such organs as heart, lungs and so on. Nuclear
fission when a tremendous amount if energy is setting free is very
Science improved the living standards, communications, promoted
contact between people and government, knowledge and culture, made it
possible to discover and develop new sources of energy, made it possible to
prolong man’s life.
But science also has some disadvantages. It produces mass culture:
painting, music, literature. Some scientific inventions increase the
ecological problems, provide with new diseases like AIDS, increased the
danger of violent death.
The greatest scientists were very persistent and were sure in their
success. Even without any serious education they made great inventions.
Even during times of disappointing experiments and unacknowledgement by
other scientists, they didn’t give up and went on working out theories.
Also they were always ready to begin everything from the very beginning.
They worked a lot, and this work wasn’t for money.
The aim, the main object of the greatest scientists of all times was
always to find out the troth and no personal prejudices can be allowed. So
the science grows and prospers and is the engine of progress.
The problem of learning languages very important today. Foreign
languages are socially demanded especially at the present time when the
progress in science and technology has led to an explosion of knowledge and
has contributed to an overflow of information. The total knowledge of
mankind is known to double every seven years. Foreign languages are needed
as the main and the most efficient means of information exchange of the
people of our planet.
Today English is the language of the world. Over 300 million people
speak it as mother tongue. The native speakers of English live in Great
Britain, the United States of America, Australia and New Zealand. English
is one of the official languages in the Irish Republic, Canada, the South
African Republic. As the second language it is used in the former British
and US colonies.
It is not only the national or the official language of some thirty
states which represents different cultures, but it is also the major
international language for communication in such areas as science,
technology, business and mass entertainment. English is one of the official
languages of the United Nations Organization and other political
organizations. It is the language of literature, education, modern music,
Russia is integrating into the world community and the problem of
learning English for the purpose of communication is especially urgent
So far there is no universal or ideal method of learning languages.
Everybody has his own way. Sometimes it is boring to study grammar or to
learn new words. But it is well known that reading books in the original,
listening to BBC news and English speaking singers, visiting an English
speaking country, communicating with the English speaking people will help
When learning a foreign language you learn the culture and history
of the native speakers.