Thursday, October 10, 2019

Education in Great Britain

————————————————- EDUCATION IN GREAT BRITAIN 6/7. 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   and   they   themselves   choose   how   to   do   it.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   is   also   a   considerable   number   of   public   schools. Parents   have   to   pay   feesà ‚   to   send   their   children   to   these   schools. The   fees   are   high. As   a   matter   of   fact,   only   very   rich   families   can   send   their   children   to   public   schools   as   well   as   to   the   best   universities,   such   as   Oxford   and  Cambridge. Another   important   feature   of   schooling   in   Britain   is   a   variety   of   opportunities   offered   to   schoolchildren.The   English   school   syllabus   is   divided   into   Arts   (or   Humanities)   and   Sciences,   which   determine   the   division   of   the   secondary   school   pupils   into   study   groups:   a   Science   pupil   will   study   Chemistry,   Physics,   Mathematics   (Maths),   Economics,   Technical   Drawing,   Biology,   Geography;   an   Art   pupil   will   do   the   English   Language   and   Literature,   History,   foreign   languages,   Music,   Art,   Drama. Besides   these   subjects   they   must   do   some   general   education   subjects   like   Physical   Education   (PE),   Home   Economics   for   girls,   and   Technical   subjects   for   boys,   General   Science.Computers   play an   important   part   in   education. There   is   a   system   of   careers   education   for   schoolchildren   in  Britain. It   is   a   three-year   course. The   system   of   option   exists   in   all   kinds   of   secondary   schools. Besides,   the   structure   of   the   curriculum   and   the   organization   of   teaching   vary   from   school   to   school. Headmasters   and   headmistresses   of   schools   are   given   a   great   deal   of   freedom   i n   deciding   what   is   taught   and   how   in   their   schools   so   that   there   is   really   no   central   control   at   all   over   individual   schools.The   National   Education   Act   of   1944   provided   three   stages   of   education;   primary,   secondary   and   further   education. Compulsory   schooling   in   England   and   Wales   lasts   11   years,   from   the   age   of   5   to   16. 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   and   Polytechnics. British   university   courses   are   rather   short,   generally   lasting   for   3   years.The   cost   of   education   depends   onà ‚   the   college   and   speciality   which   one   chooses. Pre-primary   and   Primary   Education Nurseries. Primary   School. Streaming. The   Eleven   Plus   Examination. No   More   of   It? In   some   areas   of   England   there   are   nursery   schools  Ã‚  3   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   play-groups   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   (he   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   5   in   a   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   modelling   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   7   children   go   on   from   the   infants   school   to   the   junior   school. This   marks   the   transition   from   play   to   â€Å"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   abilities   to   learn   into   A,   B,   ?   and   D   streams.The   least   gifted   are   in   the   D   stream. Formally   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   pupils’   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. Secondary   Education Comprehensive   Schools. Grammar   Schools. Secondary   Modern   Schools. The   Sixth   Form. No   More   Inequality?.Cuts   on   School   Spending After   the   age   of   11,   most   children   go   to   comprehensive   schools   of   which   the   majority   are   for   both   —boys   and   girls. About   90   per   cent   of   all   state-financed   secondary   schools   are   of   this   type. Most   other   children   receive   secondary   education   in   grammar   and   secondary   modern   schools. Comprehensive   schools   were   introduced   in   1965. The   idea   of   comprehensive   education,   supported   by   the   Labour   Party,   was   to   give   all   children   of   whatever   background   the   same   opportunity   in   education.Only   about   20   per   cent   of   children   study   for   the   General   Certificate   of   Education,   Ordinary   Level   (GCE   ?-level). Most   children   do   not   pass   GCE   examinations. They   leave   school   at   16   without   any   real   qualification   and   more   often than   not   increase   the   ranks   of   unemployed   people. Pupils   of   modern   schools   take   their   Certificate   of   Secondary   Education   (CSE)   examinations   while   in   grammar   schools   almost   all   children   stay   to   sixteen   to   take   ?-levels. More   than   half   of   them   stay   on   to   take   ?-levels.Some   comprehensive   and   many   secondary   schools,   however,   do   not   have   enough   academic   courses   for   sixth-formers. Pupils   can   transfer   either   to   a   grammar   school   or   to   a   sixt h-form   college   to   get   the   courses   they   want. The   majority   of   schools   in  Scotland   are   six-year   comprehensives. Secondary   education   in   Northern   Ireland   is   organized   along   selective   lines   according   to   children’s   abilities. One   can   hardly   say   that   high   quality   secondary   education   is   provided   for   all   in  Britain.There   is   a   high   loss   of   pupils   from   working-class   families   at   entry   into   the   sixth   form. If   you   are   a   working-class   child   at   school   today,   the   chance   of   your   reaching   the   second   year   of   a   sixth-   form   course   is   probably   less   than   one-twelfth   of   that   for   the   child   of   a   professional   parent. Besides,   government   cuts   on   school   spending   caused   many   difficulties. Secondary   School   Examinations Time   for   Examinations. GCE. CSE. The   Sixth   Forms. CEE.GCSE Pupils   at   secondary   schools   in   England   (that   is,   pupils   between   the   ages   of   twelve   and   eighteen)   have   two   main   exams   to   worry   about,   both   called   GCE   —   General   Certificate   of   Education. They   take   the   first   one   when   they   are   about   fifteen. It’s   called   O-   level. There   is   an   exam   which   you   can   take   instead   of   ?-level:   it   is   called   the   CSE   (Certificate   of   Secondary   Education),   and   it   is   not   as   difficult   as   O-level. Most   pupils   take   ?-level   in   about   seven   or   eight   different   subjec ts.There   are   lots   of   subjects   to   choose   from   —everything   from   carpentry   to   ancient   languages. For   a   lot   of   jobs,   such   as   nursing,   or   assistant   librarian,   you   must   have   four   or   five   ?-levels,   and   usually   these   must   include   English   and   Maths. You   may   leave   school   when   you   are   16. But   if   you   stay   at   school   after   taking   ?-level,   you   go   into   the   sixth   form. The   sixth   forms   and   sixth-form   colleges   offer   a   wide   range   of   courses. Ordinary   level   alternative,   CEE   (Certificate   of   ExtendedEducation)   and   CSE   courses   are   offered   to   pupils   who   need   qualifications   at   a   lower   level. But   if   you   have   made   up   your   mind   to   gain   entry   to   a   university,   Polytechnic   or   college   of   further   education   you   have   to   start   working   for   the   second   main   examination   —   A-level. Most   people   take   ?-level   when   they   are   about   eighteen. It   is   quite   a   difficult   exam,   so   people   don’t   usually   take   it   in   more   than   3   subjects—   and   some   only   in   one   or   two   subjects. Three   ?-levels   are   enough   to   get   you   in   to   most   universities.For   others,   such   as   Oxford   and  Cambridge,   you   have   to   take   special   exams   as   well. A   new   school-leaving   certificate   is   planned,   however,   and   O-level   and   CSE   will   be   replaced   by   one   public   exam,   th e   General   Certificate   of   Secondary   Education   (GCSE). It   is   to   show   how   children   worked   throughout   5   years   of   secondary   school. 5. Parliamentary elections in the United Kingdom should be seen as a referendum on the performance of sitting MPs, not merely as a snapshot nationwide opinion poll determining party voting weights for the next Parliament.The electoral system affects the degree to which voters may hold their representatives to account for their actions in the previous Parliament; changes which would diminish this accountability mechanism should be resisted. The UK presently has a legislature whose unelected chamber better reflects the relative strength of the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and None of the Above parties. Conversely, if Labour and the Conservatives each won 50% of the vote, the other chamber would have a sizable Labour majority. 51% of the seats in the Lower House delivers 100% of t he power, and this can be captured by Labour on about 40% of the vote.Nevertheless, whenever Labour runs into opposition from the chamber which, in any other context, would be described as more â€Å"representative† by people who go in for that kind of thing, it threatens to force its legislation through under the Parliament Acts, on the grounds that the Lower House is more â€Å"democratic†. The Lower House  is  more democratic. Contrary to the self-serving views of the Liberal Democrats and other jejune supporters of electoral â€Å"reform†, what matters for democracy is not representativeness or proportionality, so much as accountability and responsiveness.When MPs behave in accordance with their constituents' wishes, this is to be preferred to their merely existing in party groupings of such sizes as best reflect their constituents' choices at the previous election. When discussing electoral reform in the UK, retaining a â€Å"constituency link† i s often posited as a requirement. That is to say, it is felt to be necessary that everyone should have an MP who is in some sense â€Å"theirs†, normally meaning that people are grouped into geographical areas and each area gets its own MP. A weaker version of this permits multiple MPs for each area.This is supposed to be good because it means that there's automatically someone in Parliament to go to with one's grievances. There is a much better reason why it happens to be good. If we merely say that everyone must have one or a small number of MPs, that does not imply that every MP must have his own constituency. The German federal electoral system and its antipodean imitator in New Zealand affords MPs who have no constituencies: they are elected from party lists and assigned in such numbers as ensure that the proportion of MPs in each party in the chamber match the proportion of the vote each party won.This category of MPs shares the same vice as MPs in a chamber fully elect ed by a proportional system: they can't be voted out of office directly. If your MP decides to go against the wishes of his constituents, they can contact him and say, â€Å"Hi, your majority at the last election was 2000; we, the undersigned 1001 who voted for you last time will vote against your party next time unless you buck the whip on this issue we care about. † The easier it is to do this, the more likely the behaviour of an MP will reflect the wishes of constituents.Don't believe the canard about votes not counting: every vote against the person who won counts against his majority and makes him more susceptible to pressure from his constituents before the next election. The electoral system can restrain this tactic. It works well under First Past The Post, and similar systems. Generally, increasing the number of MPs who represent a single constituency has the effect of making this tactic harder, as the punishment from electors may be spread across several MPs, especia lly if the electors cannot choose which MPs from a paricular party get the benefit of their vote.This is a notorious problem with the European Parliamentary elections in Great Britain: if some MEP is the ringleader for a particularly odious policy, she cannot easily be voted out without voting out the colleagues from her party. Even when a free choice on the preferential ordering of MPs is permitted, it is difficult to stop the disliked MP from riding back to election on the coattails of his more popular colleagues. So, in order of preferability, the electoral systems rank as follows: * First Past The Post, and Alternative Vote Single Transferable Vote in multimember constituencies * Proper Proportional Representation systems with open lists * Proper Proportional Representation systems with closed lists Having said all this, it must be stressed that electoral reform for the House of Commons should not be considered in isolation from the composition of the other chamber, and the rela tion between the Commons and three other institutions: the executive, the House of lords, and the courts.Some notes: Alternative Vote is the Australian name for a system which when used in single-member constituencies is identical to STV: electors rank the candidates in order of preference, and the least popular candidate is repeatedly eliminated until someone has over 50%; essentially, once a candidate is eliminated, a vote is regarded as counting for whichever remaining candidate was most preferred by its caster.The effect of this system tends to be obliteration of extremists without penalising or â€Å"wasting† protest votes. It should be noted that in the British debate, â€Å"Proportional Representation† is used to mean proper PR systems  and  STV/AV. The Australian Electoral Commission  used  to have an excellent webpage with a classification of all the electoral systems used in Australia's twenty-odd legislative chambers, but they've apparently improved it off their site now.Other fallacious views on electoral systems which it is useful to rebut at this juncture include the contention that FPTP entrenches a two-party system (in fact, the number of parties is contingent on the geographical concentration of voters), that AV in the UK in 1997 would have led to a larger Labour majority (only if you didn't tell people and the parties what the electoral system was in advance, otherwise the parties would have behaved differently), and that geographical constituencies are a relic of a bygone age and are being replaced by PR across Europe, or at least the world.FPTP is described by Hilaire Barnett in her militantly Anglosceptic tome on the British constitution as â€Å"still† existing in some dusty English-speaking corners of the planet; in fact some countries using PR have been moving towards constituencies: Italy did in the 1990s, and the Dutch are considering a similar move. 2. POLITICAL PARTIESThe idea of political parties first took form in Britain and the Conservative Party claims to be the oldest political party in the world. Political parties began to form during the English civil wars of the 1640s and 1650s. First, there were Royalists and Parliamentarians; then Tories and Whigs. Whereas the Whigs wanted to curtail the power of the monarch, the Tories – today the Conservatives – were seen as the patriotic party.Today there are three major political parties in the British system of politics: * The Labour Party – the centre-Left party currently led by Ed Miliband * The Conservative Party (frequently called the Tories) – the centre-Right party currently led by David Cameron * The Liberal Democrat Party (known as the Lib Dems) – the centrist, libertarian party currently led by Nick Clegg In addition to these three main parties, there are some much smaller UK parties (notably the UK Independence Party and the Green Party) and some parties which operate specifically in Scot land (the Scottish National Party), Wales (Plaid Cymru) or Northern Ireland (such as Sinn Fein for the nationalists and the Democratic Unionist Party for the loyalists). Each political party chooses its leader in a different way, but all involve all the Members of Parliament of the party and all the individual members of that party.By convention, the leader of the political party with the largest number of members in the House of Commons becomes the Prime Minster (formally at the invitation of the Queen). Political parties are an all-important feature of the British political system because: * The three main political parties in the UK have existed for a century or more and have a strong and stable ‘brand image'. * It is virtually impossible for someone to be elected to the House of Commons without being a member of an established political party. * All political parties strongly ‘whip' their elected members which means that, on the vast majority of issues, Members of Pa rliament of the same party vote as a ‘block'. Having said this, the influence of the hree main political parties is not as dominant as it was in the 1940s and 1950s because: * The three parties have smaller memberships than they did since voters are much less inclined to join a political party. * The three parties secure a lower overall percentage of the total vote since smaller parties between them now take a growing share of the vote. * Voters are much less ‘tribal', supporting the same party at every election, and much more likely to ‘float, voting for different parties at successive elections. * The ideological differences between the parties are less than they were with the parties adopting more ‘pragmatic' positions on many issues. In the past, class was a major determinant of voting intention in British politics, with most working class electors voting Labour and most middle class electors voting Conservative.These days, class is much less important be cause: * Working class numbers have shrunk and now represent only 43% of the electorate. * Except at the extremes of wealth, lifestyles are more similar. * Class does not determine voting intention so much as values, trust and competence. In the British political system, there is a broad consensus between the major parties on: * the rule of law * the free market economy * the national health service * UK membership of European Union and NATO The main differences between the political parties concern: * how to tackle poverty and inequality * the levels and forms of taxation * the extent of state intervention in the economy * the balance between collective rights and individual rights

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