The British education system has much in common with that in Europe, that :
. 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 secondary schools.
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 unskilled jobs.
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;
. Science Department: chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics;
. Language Department: German, French, English;
. 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:
|Autumn |Christmas |Spring |Easter |Summer |Summer |
|term |Holiday |term |Holiday |term |Holiday |
| |(about | |(about 2| | |
| |2weeks) | |weeks) | |(about 6|
| | | | | |weeks) |
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, detentions.
On important occasions such as end of term or national holiday, called in English schools speech-days pupils are gathered in the assembly or hall.
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 heels!
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 education authority.
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 industry.
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 of overseas.
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 universities.
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 examinations.
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 and Cambridge.
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 music, psychology.
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 the 1980s.
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 higher education.
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 important discovery.
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, international tourism.
Russia is integrating into the world community and the problem of learning English for the purpose of communication is especially urgent today.
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 a lot.
When learning a foreign language you learn the culture and history of the native speakers.