Text 1. Schools in Great Britain

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Text 1. Schools in Great Britain

1. Read the text quickly to find out peculiarities of the British educational system.

The basis features of public education in Great Britain are the following:

- full-time education is compulsory up to the middle teenage years;

- the academic year begins at the end of summer;

- compulsory education is free of charge, but parents can spend money on educating their children privately outside the state system if they want to (the fees are high).

There are three recognized stages of education: primary, secondary and “further” education.

The first stage is primary education from 5 to 11 years old. Primary education takes place in infant schools where pupils are taught basic reading, writing, arithmetic, art, etc., and in junior schools (from 8 to 11 years old) which mark the transition from play to “real work”.

The second stage is secondary educationfrom 11 to 16/18 years old. Children must go to school until the age of 16, and pupils may stay on for one or two years if they wish. Free secondary education is available to all children in comprehensive schools, which are not selective – children don’t have to pass an exam to go there. Comprehensive schools in the UK are for all abilities and sexes. They develop the talents of each individual child. Comprehensive schools teach wide range of subjects in arts, crafts, woodwork, domestic science, modern languages, sciences, technical areas and computer studies. All pupils move to the next class automatically at the end of the year. There are also a small number of secondary modern schools, offering a more practical education, grammar schools, providing a more academic education and technical schools, offering a combination of academic and technical teaching. There are also special schools for children with physical or mental disabilities.

Private (or public) schools are for pupils aged up to 13. They are very expensive and accept pupils on the basis of an examination. Most of them are boarding schools. The education is of a high quality. The discipline is very strict, corporal punishment has been recently banned in state schools, but in most public schools it is still allowed. At 18 most public school-leavers gain entry to universities. Public schools are famous for their ability to lay foundation of a successful future by giving their pupils a good academic backgroundand self-confidence. About 7 percent of schoolchildren go to private schools.

The school-leaving exams are set by independent examining boards and held in May/June. All schools share the same unified school-leaving exam. The main exam is the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), normally taken at the age of 16, in which students sit papers in different subjects (usually five or more) and are awarded a grade in each subject on a seven-point scale, A to G.

Those pupils who don’t leave school at 16 and go on to a Sixth Form will study two or three subjects for an A-Level (Advanced Level) exam. This is a highly specialized exam and is necessary for University entrance.


2. Read the text more carefully and answer the questions.


1. Is full-time education compulsory for all children in UK?

2. What subjects are taught in primary school?

3. In what types of schools is free secondary education available to all children?

4. What subjects are taught in comprehensive schools?

5. There are state and private schools in Great Britain, aren’t there?

6. What can you say about the discipline and quality of education in private schools?

7. How do private schools accept pupils?

8. Is corporal punishment allowed in schools?

9. What kind of education is provided by Grammar and modern schools?

10. What is GCSE and when is it held?


3. What questions could you ask to get these answers?

1. Only about 7 percent of children go to private schools.

2. No, all schools hold the same school-leaving exam.

3. To enter the University they need to have 2 or 3 A-Levels.


1.2 Speaking


1. Discuss the following problems with your partner.

a) Advantages and disadvantages of English schools.

b) Are private schools better than state schools?

c) Do you agree with the proverb “Spare the rod, spoil the child”?


In your discussion use special phrases

to agree to disagree to express your opinion
Yes, you are quite right. I absolutely agree with you. I think so too. That’s true.   I totally disagree with you. I’m afraid you are mistaken. I don’t think so. I’m afraid you are wrong. There is a point in what you say, but … I think I suppose (I believe) In my opinion Speaking for myself I’m sure



2. Give a short summary of Text 1 in English.

3. Render the following text in English* or in Russian.

Does a Good Education Really Matter?

We surveyed some people to find out how important they felt that a good school education was. The results showed that many people were disappointed in their education. They put the blame sometimes on themselves. Many felt that their teachers were not good enough, that many of the textbooks were out-of-date, especially when it came to science, and that they should have been made to work harder, either by teachers or by their parents. But people seemed equally ready to put the blame on their own shoulders. Many felt that they had chosen the wrong subjects when they started to specialize, or that they had wasted time at school. Others felt that they had left school too early to get a job and earn money.

4*. Study the following chart and make a report about American system of education.

American educational system

Name of school Grade Age Subjects
Primary or Elementary Reading, writing, spelling, adding, drawing, singing
Language, arts, subtraction, spelling, drawing, singing
Language, arts, social studies, multiplication
Language, arts, social studies, division
Language, arts, history, geography, fractions
Language, arts, history, geography, decimals, science
Junior High Language, arts, history, geography, algebra, science, foreign language, manual arts, home economics
Language, arts, history, geography, geometry, science, foreign language, manual arts, home economics
High School     College Prep. Vocational (professional) Business
Freshman English Math Science Physical Biology Physics Chemistry Foreign lang. Spanish, French English Economics Civics* Math Shop Home Group Economics English Bookkeeping Civics Math Typing
Junior College (2 yrs) Freshman English, foreign language, history, biology, physical science, sociology or psychology, physical education, ROTC **
College or University (4yrs) (undergraduate) Junior Courses in major and minor fields***
Graduate or Professional School MA     PhD One year plus theses     Three years plus dissertation

* Civics - a school subject in which you study how government works and what people’s rights, duties, and responsibilities are as citizens.

** Reserve Officers’ Training Corps служба подготовки офицеров резерва (в гражданских учебных заведениях)

*** Major and minor fields - main and additional subjects


5. Render the text in English.


Школы Британии очень разные. Здесь и старинные частные школы, именуемые по непостижимой причине «публичными», и религиозные, и суперсовременные государственные (а значит, бесплатные) технические колледжи. Частных школ в Англии менее 10 %, но многие состоятельные люди отправляют своих детей именно туда – ведь школы эти очень престижные.

С 5 до 11 лет британские дети идут в начальную школу, где учат английский, арифметику, письмо и начало естественных наук. Оценки выставляются по семибалльной шкале, только не цифрами, как в России, а буквами. Оценки от А до C считаются хорошими.

Для школьников после 11 лет, или, точнее, их родителей, существует широкий выбор школ. Одни предпочтут частные школы – там красивая форма, больше спорта и музыки, железная дисциплина.

В государственных школах порядки посвободнее, форму обычно можно не носить, хотя дисциплина здесь не менее строгая.

В какой бы школе ни учился юный британец, в 16 лет всем положено сдавать одинаковые экзамены. На этом обязательное образование кончается. Затем можно идти работать или продолжать образование.


1.3 Jokes


“Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories”.


Teacher: Jack, why are you late to school every morning?

Jack: When I come to the crossing I see the words: “School – Go slow”.


Teacher (looking over Teddy’s homework): I don’t see how it’s possible for a single person to make so many mistakes.

Teddy (proudly): It isn’t a single person, teacher, Father helped me.


When a little boy arrived home from school his mother asked him if he had been a good boy.

He replied: “Sure I was good in school today! How much trouble can you get into standing in a corner?”


Once the teacher asked the pupil: ” Bobby, how many fingers have you?” The pupil answered at once:” I have ten fingers.”

The teacher asked him another question:” Well, if four were missing what would you have then?” – “No music lessons,” was the answer.


One day Pete came home from school and said:” I was the only pupil today who could answer the teacher’s question.”

“Very nice, Pete. And what was the question?”

“The teacher asked who broke the window in the classroom.”



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