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Education in Great Britain

Education in Great Britain


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


. 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, schoolТs

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 Уgrass-rootФ 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 Уcharacter-buildingФ

and the development of Уteam spiritФ 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 everybodyТs 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 Ц 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 Уthe old school tieФ and Уthe old

boy networkФ. 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.

LetТs 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 countryТs 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 Ц you donТt 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 infantsТ 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 oТclock in the

morning till 4 oТclock 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 authorityТs

nurseries are free. But only about three children in 100 can go to them:

there arenТt 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 infantsТ school to the junior

school. This marks the transition from play to Уreal workФ. 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

pupilТs 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.

6.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 personТs future to

be decided at a so young age. The children who went to Уsecondary modernsФ

were seen as УfailuresФ. 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 УcomprehensiveФ 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 Уopt-outФ of the control of the LEA and put themselves

directly under the control of the government department. These Уgrant-

maintainedФ 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 Уcore subjectsФ): English,

science, mathematics and seven other subjects are called Уfoundation or

statuary subjectsФ. 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 subjectТs 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

УpastoralФ 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 schoolТs 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 УunpaidФ work. At Christmas teachers

organized concerts, parties and general festivities. It is also considered

a good thing to be УseenФ to be doing this extra work since it is fairly

essential for securing promotion in the school hierarchy.

Classes of pupils are called УformsФ (though it has recently

become common to refer to УyearsФ) 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 oТclock 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 УtermsФ 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 boardТs 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 УgoodФ 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 УBell

TimesФ at Lawnswood school in Leads.

Bell Times

8.40 a.m. Ц School begins

8.45 a.m. Ц Registration

8.50 a.m. Ц Assembly bell

9.00 a.m. Ц Pupils move to lessons

9.05 a.m. Ц Lesson 1

9.45 a.m. - Lesson 2

10.25 a.m. Ц Lesson 3

11.25 a.m. Ц Lesson 3

11.05 a.m. Ц Break

11.25 a.m. Ц Pupils move to lessons

11.30 a.m. Ц Lesson 4

12.10 p.m. Ц Lesson 5

12.50 p.m. Ц Lunch time

1.40 p.m. Ц Afternoon school begins

1.45 p.m. Ц Registration

1.50 p.m. Ц Lesson 6

2.30 p. m. Lesson 7

3.10 p.m. Ц End of normal lessons

3.10 p.m. Ц 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

or hall.

Most of the pupilТs 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 donТt 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 donТt have to wear their school uniform.

It sounds logical to say that the schoolТs function is to train a

pupilТs mind and his character should be formed at home. Teachers would be

pleased if the problem could be solved so easily. But children donТt 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 а 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 а Scout (а boy from

8 to 18) to develop into а good man and а useful citizen. He must be able

to handle sails, to use а compass, to lay and light а fire out of doors, he

must know first aid and develop his interest in music, literature, drama,

arts and films. A Scout is а friend to animals, he is 'clean in thought,

word and deedТ. 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 tо 11), Guides (age

11 Ч 16) and Rangers (age 16 Ч 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 а Scout а Girl Guide must be а friend to animals. She must be

Сpure in thought, word and deedТ. 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 ј-level results in at least two subjects are necessary to get а

place at а university. However, good exam passes alone are not enough.

Universities choose their students after interviews. For all British

citizens а place at а university brings with it а 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 а university graduate will leave with the

Degree of Bachelor of Arts, Science, Engineering, Medicine, etc. Later he

may continue to take а MasterТs Degree and then а DoctorТs Degree. Research

is an important feature of university work.

The two intellectual eyes of Britain Ч Oxford and Cam- bridge

Universities Ч date from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

The Scottish universities of St. Andrews, Glasgow, јberdeen 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 tо а

further education college where they can follow а 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 nо 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.

10.Higher education.

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 Ц about a third in England

and Wales and almost half in Scotland Ц 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



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 (¬.ј.). 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 а 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 а wide range of

subjects. Within, the college one will normally find а chapel, а dining

hall, а 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 ј.D. and it was popular with the early

English kings (Richard Coeur de Lion' was probably here). The university's

earliest charter" is dated tо 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 а 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.

ћапу 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 а 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 СredbrickТ

universities. Their buildings were made of local material, often brick, in

contrast to the stone of older universities, hence the name, СredbrickТ.

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, СcampusТ universities). They tend to emphasise

relatively СnewТ academic disciplines such as social science and make

greater use than other universities of teaching in small groups, often

known as СseminarsТ.

Among this group there are also universities often called Сnever

civicТ 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 СpolytechnicsТ, 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 СAТ level approach. The reasons for

this lie in BritainТs 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 BritainТs 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 studentТs 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 Ц a month at Christmas, a month at Easter, and

three or four months in summer Ц are mainly periods of intellectual

digestion and private study.

The courses are also Сfull-timeТ 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 bachelorТs 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 Сa firstТ), Class II, I (or Сan upper secondТ), Class II, II (or

Сa lower secondТ), Class III (Сa thirdТ). 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 Ц the MasterТs

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

СContinuing EducationТ Departments which offer academic courses for adults

who wish to study Ц often for the sheer pleasure of study Ц 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 Ц 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 СordinaryТ

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 УscienceФ comes from the Latin word УscientiaФ, which means

УknowledgeФ. 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

Уelectronic brainФ, 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 countryТs 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 manТs 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 didnТt 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 wasnТt 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


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.


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