If you once studied at a school or university a system of British education, then you are waiting for a real cultural shock. The fact is that everything is not at all the way you imagined.
We asked Lyudmila Selenskaya – a mother of four children (18, 16, 10 years and 1.5 years), living in England – to describe the path that the child has to go from kindergarten to university or college.
Let’s start with the very first steps in the education system of England: kindergarten and elementary school.
From 3 years old a child is entitled to a free state kindergarten for 2.5 hours a day, 5 days a week. You can give the baby to a full day private garden – then the state will pay 12.5 hours a week – as much as the child would be in the free garden.
There are various activities in the garden, but there are few common activities for the whole group. As a rule, children are divided into groups.
There are several tables in the room: after one they draw, after another they mold, after the third they are engaged in a magnetic alphabet. Someone just plays with cars or dolls on the floor. The teacher, the assistant teacher, as well as the volunteers who are recruited from mothers and trainees, help the children to draw, make a word of letters or dress them up in costumes of pirates and dwarfs.
Every day there is a reading of a fairy tale or an interesting story. In good weather, go for a walk, but not for long.
I did not see a significant difference between private and public gardens in relation to teachers to children, or in the arrangement of rooms, although, compared to the gardens of my Soviet childhood, I can say that English gardens lose on hygienic standards and cramped rooms. As for the relative freedom of children in an English garden, this is a moot point.
One thing is obvious: the caregivers are more informal and do not feel obliged to devote every minute of the child’s stay in the garden to some useful activities. Yes, it is understandable: in two and a half hours a shift you cannot do much, and the most important thing for children is to communicate with their peers.
At four, the child goes into nursery, an analogue of the preparatory group. There he is waiting for more classes. The study of the alphabet begins, the children are more read and conduct general education with them.
They study the days of the week, the seasons, the count, etc.
At 4-5 years old, the child goes to class zero (Reception). This is the beginning of a formal education with a long school day and school uniform. Primary school lasts from zero to sixth grade.
High School is a separate school. Yes, it is logical: it would be strange to see in one educational institution a child of four years and an eighteen-year-old high school student.
How to find out what the school is? First of all, it helps the word of mouth – personal recommendations of friends you trust.
But there is still objective information: Ofsted school reports, reports of the education commission about each school where the school has a general assessment, as well as its strengths and weaknesses are described in detail.
But no tables and points prepare parents and children for what they see in reality. I heard a lot of feedback from various friends and acquaintances about various schools: from tiny village villages to schools in large cities, and I came to the conclusion that in the first school years a rare child goes to school reluctantly.
The first classes of the English school are a continuation of the kindergarten, although the school day of the children is as long as that of the high school students.
Children not only learn, but also walk and play at school. The younger the child, the longer the play time lasts, the time of the games, the longer he spends time outdoors.
In the classrooms there are carpet and toys, the desks are not arranged in rows. Most of the time children spend on the carpet, sitting in Turkish and listening to reading a book or an explanation of a teacher.
The first school years are talking to friends and gradually getting used to discipline, duties, and small homework once a week. If a child is left at home due to illness, he, as a rule, looks out of the window at friends who are going to school and waits, he wonders, when he can go with them.
Division of children into groups
On average, there are about 30 people in the class. Previously, the limit was 29 people, but in recent years there has been a tendency towards larger classes.
Many classes are held with children, divided into groups depending on academic performance. Due to the presence of an assistant teacher, as well as volunteers in the face of moms, the task of the teacher is greatly facilitated. It is impossible to imagine a situation in which one student reads out loud, and thirty people listen to him.
Here children from the first to the third grade read in groups of five or six people. Once a week, the teacher monitors and reads as she reads.
Reader’s diaries are distributed to children, and they write books that they read at school and at home.
For mathematics, children are also usually divided into five groups depending on their abilities. Testing is conducted throughout the year, and children can move into a stronger or weaker group.
As a rule, from the third to fourth grade, children begin to learn a foreign language — most often, French. Since the British do not feel an acute need for knowledge of foreign languages, in elementary school the attitude towards them is usually frivolous.
All the fifth and sixth grades are trained by the English language, mathematics and the basics of the natural sciences.
In the last grade of primary school, children take exams in core subjects.
To be continued … In the next article, Lyudmila Selenskaya will talk about high school and high school. Stay tuned to the site!