I have also been learning about the British education system, which prides itself in being apocalyptically difficult for anyone to understand, even if you've grown up in it! Essentially, their system has years (instead of grades) and has many different levels of tests along the way to judge a student's progress (like GCSEs, SATs, A-levels, and O-levels). Below is a quick rundown of part of what I've learned.
(American = British)
Preschool = Reception
Kindergarten = Year One
First Grade = Year Two
Second Grade = Year Three (First Form)
Third Grade = Year Four (Lower Second Form)
Fourth Grade = Year Five (Upper Second Form)
Fifth Grade = Year Six (Lower Third Form)
Sixth Grade = Year Seven (Upper Third Form)
Seventh Grade = Year Eight (Lower Fourth Form)
Eighth Grade = Year Nine (Upper Fourth Form)
Freshman = Year Ten (Lower Fifth Form)
Sophomore = Year Eleven (Upper Fifth Form)
Junior = Year Twelve (Lower Sixth Form)
Senior = Year Thirteen (Upper Sixth Form)
*Years are based on age, similar to grades.
There are also several different classifications of schools: Junior, Primary, Secondary, Private, Public, State, etc. These can rather annoyingly overlap and cause a great deal of confusion, even to those who were raised in the system. There's also a dizzying hierarchy of houses and even a religious system and more within the already fairly ridiculous structure.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to go observe some classes in the Surrey Hills Church of England Primary school, in Westcott. After being combined recently with another school at a different site, it now houses up to Year Six (grade 5) but curiously has several classes with both Year Three and Four in the same room, as well as two Year Five and Six classrooms. Because the children are split up into ability groups for maths, the age difference doesn't matter and the school can fit more students into classes.
A large problem I heard about was the sweeping changes in curriculum which happen pretty much every time a new government comes to power. With new Education Ministers comes new lessons for children and teachers alike. However, the main problem a few teachers saw with education is the lack of parent involvement in their child's education, particularly in state schools. Many struggling children lack the support at home to stress the value of education and encourage a culture which values an education.
The British system also has an interesting Special Education system, not quite as extensive as their American counterpart. This is mainly due to the fact that it is not as easy to classify a child as "Special Needs" in England as it is in the US.
I can’t wait to explore this system further as I progress throughout my term!
"The Oxford Observer"
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