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British Educational System???

(20 Posts)
Moski Tue 07-Oct-08 18:59:50

I have 16, 17 and 20 year old boys and, though I am in the U.S., find Mumsnet discussions regarding teenagers extremely helpful and comforting. Sometimes, however, when someone refers to their child as being, for example, in the Sixth Form, I can't tell how old the child is because I don't know anything about the British Educational System. I also don't understand the difference between "university and "college". Can someone explain the Brithish nomenclature for me?

In the U.S., we have Kindergarten (5 years old), Elementary School (generally 2nd through 5th or 6th grade--6 through 11 or 12 years old), Middle School or Junior High (generally 6th or 7th grade through 8th or 9th grade) and High School (generally 9th or 10th grade through 12th grade-- 14 or 14 to 18 years old). Once a child graduates from high school, he or she may attend a four year college/university, a community or junior college (often 2 years), a vocational school, or nothing. There is generally very litte direct governemental monetary support for post-high school education.

brimfull Tue 07-Oct-08 19:06:07

6th form is aged 16 and 17
so yrs 12 and 13
also called college as some 6th form are separated form the school

we have senior school which starts at age 11 in yr 7 and goes to yr 11 aged 15/16 wher they end with taking their GCSE exams

some go on to 6th form/college but it isn't compulsory,you can leave and get a job

Tortington Tue 07-Oct-08 19:06:24

infant - 4/5 - 6/7

junior until 11/12

together these are known as primary school

secondary or senior school - until 15/16.

6th form until 18

although arn't this years starters going to stay in ft ed until 18 anyway now?

6th form is called such - becuase once in secondary the class names started
senior 1,3,4,4,5 - and then went on to 6th form

now its different, it goes from infants year one - right to year 11 - and then 6th form

6th formreally ought to change its name!

at the end of secondary our children do GCSE's

then start work - or take a vocational qualification called NVQ - national vocational qualification

which they study at college with on the ob experience.

gcses can also be studied at college.

or 6th form to do A-levels.

one needs Alevels to be passed to go to university to get a degree

brimfull Tue 07-Oct-08 19:07:23

btw you need to finish yr 13 to get to university,and have at least 3 A levels

Moski Tue 07-Oct-08 19:13:34

What is the difference between GCSEs and A-levels and O-levels? (I love reading books about British everything, but never understood this stuff). Are these mandatory? In the U.S., the kids have to take standardized tests some years, which are very controversial, but those don't determine whether they can go on to post-high school education. Most universities and colleges (the difference in names depends on whether the faculty do research, etc.) require a student to take a certain admissions test to determine whether they meet certain admissions criteria, but others seem to just require that the person be breathing (or maybe just still warm).

Rhian82 Tue 07-Oct-08 19:48:58

You do GCSEs when you're 16, and generally do one in every subject you're studying - most kids do 8-10 I think. Then you pick A Levels to study for another 2 years, and most kids do 3-4 of those, in subjects relevant to what they want to study at university.

O Levels don't exist any more, they were replaced by GCSEs in the mid 80s, but they were the same sort of thing - you did lots of them, at age 16.

College here is, as people have said, more of a vocational place - you can do A Levels there instead of in a sixth form that is based in a school, also vocational qualifications such as NVQs, and lots of adult education qualifications and courses. University here is what's called college in America - it's where you do a degree, and here a standard degree takes three years.

Rhian82 Tue 07-Oct-08 19:52:48

Ooh, and when you apply to university, you'll generally get an offer, which says what A Level results you need to get to get into the university. When the A Level results come out (August after you finished school) you then know whether or not you've got into your chosen university. If you achieved the offer (got the grades they asked for) then you're automatically in, if not then you go into 'clearing' and have to do lots of ringing round finding out what universities have places going and whether they're prepared to take you.

Moski Tue 07-Oct-08 19:58:44

This is all so complicated. So if a kid does poorly on math or science on the GCSEs he or she will routed away from math or science in university? Do schools "teach to the test" like they do in the U.S (one reason why the tests are so controversial)? Are the tests multiple choice, essay? Objective, subjective?

deste Tue 07-Oct-08 20:26:23

And in Scotland we have primary 1-7 which is anything from age 4.5yrs - 5.5yrs - 12 years. They then go into senior 1 - 4 when they sit standard grades, no more than eight. They then go into 5th year when they sit the first of their Highers. They can then go to university if they pass their highers or thay can stay on and sit more highers or advanced highers. If they do more highers they are crash highers where 2 years work is crammed into 1 year and advanced highers are the highers they passed the year before. Complicated, not really.

Rhian82 Tue 07-Oct-08 23:04:02

Yes there's a lot of controversy over teaching to the test, but quite a lot of subjects (at GCSE and A level) are a combination of exams and coursework. They're not likely to be multiple choice, and some may have essays and some not (I did Maths A Level, which was all calculations and 100% exam-assessed, and also Technology, which was 50% coursework, 30% design exam and 20% essay exam).

If a child did badly in Maths or Science GCSEs they'd be unlikely to do a Maths or Science A Level (unless they had a really good reason and could convince the school to let them try, and it would still count against them as universities would see their GCSE results when deciding whether or not to even make them an offer). And without a Maths or Science A Level you'd be very unlikely to apply to do a Maths or Science degree at university, let alone be likely to get an offer if you did apply.

I think - and I admit I don't know much more about the US system than I've learned from Buffy! - in America, you still study a variety of subjects at university, but major in one thing, is that right? Here you only really focus on one subject at uni, or occasionally two if you do a joint degree, but they are rarer. So if you'd done badly in maths at GCSE, because you hated it, then you need never go near maths again - you could do A Levels in, say, English, History and Sociology, and then a degree in English.

ducknineteen Wed 08-Oct-08 11:34:27

If a child did badly in Maths or Science at GCSE, there is a chance that they would be able to retake them at college/sixth form, not all colleges or sixth forms do this, mine did though. Then they could improve and go on to do a Maths or Science A-level.

NannyNanny Wed 08-Oct-08 11:48:38

University in Scotland is different to in England. Most courses are four years not three. When you first start you generally do a broader range of subjects which then become more specific as you progress through the years.

In terms of school, in different counties in England there are different systems. For instance, some have primary schools. Ages 4-11. Others have junior and middle. Not sure how this works though.

Everyone has to stay at school until they are 16.

Moski Wed 08-Oct-08 18:53:36

In the U.S., once a child goes on to college/university, it's a whole new ballgame regarding what they choose to focus on. Nothing they've done previously determines what area they go into-- just what school they can get into. All students in college/university have to take a broad range of undergraduate courses to get a "well-rounded" knowledge base. Often they don't even choose their major until one or two (or more) years in. If they decide to go on to medical school, law school, etc., following their four-year degree, once again it is their total performance that determines whether they can get into a decent medical or law school-- not how they performed in specific areas.

Rhian82 Wed 08-Oct-08 22:20:03

There's another difference - I don't know anything about law, but here you can go straight to medical school after high school. A medical degree takes five years, so people generally qualify when they're 23 (unless they took a year out, or were a mature student, and obviously they still have to do registration years after qualifying).

Most people applying to medical school would do the three sciences as A Levels, and be expected to get three A grades. Though there are various moves to get more 'rounded' people into medicine, so the odd arts subject might be seen!

witcheseve Thu 09-Oct-08 19:05:45

Just though I'd add, not sure that anyone else has mentioned this that post A levels or vocational training, up to age 18, there is very little financial assistance in the UK, except for a very small grant students from low income families can apply for.

University students have to pay tuition fees (except in Scotland) as well as support themselves by getting student loans, parental help etc.

Ten years ago it was free and help was given in the way of grants.

fizzbuzz Sun 12-Oct-08 21:26:53

I thought medical science took 7 years......hmm

So does that mean that doctors in US haven't spent the first couple or so years studying medicine aspart of their degree.

Also pupils have to be 16 in the year they are in Year 11 (this can include Juy and August), and people can't leaprfrog years like they can in practically every country in the world. They are all the same age in every year.

I want to know what a sophomore is? This has puzzled me for about 20 years. There is another word quite like that for another year in uni which I can't remember now........

NannyNanny Sun 12-Oct-08 21:54:50

Is the word freshman? I wonder what both sophomore and freshman means?

Rhian82 Mon 13-Oct-08 09:57:22

Medicine in the UK takes five years. At the end of that students get a double degree of BM BS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) and the title 'Dr', but they're not yet on the medical register. They then do two years working rotations in hospitals (called F1 and F2), which are 'work' and they are paid, but that they still have to pass. After that they go on the medical register. Obviously they're 'registered' with the GMC from the end of medical school, but they're not classed as fully fledged doctors until that point.

Freshman is a first year I think - we have freshers week here which comes from the same term. Not sure about sophomore - maybe a second year?!

(There are some fast-track medical courses that are aimed at post-grads and take four years, but I don't know much about those. It's also possible that some medical schools name the degrees differently, but BM BS is the qualification I know of being awarded)

BellaDonna79 Mon 13-Oct-08 12:25:14

In the US a freshman is generally 14 and is roughly the yr 10 equivalent and the first year of high school, Sophmore = yr 11, Junior = yr 12 and senior = yr 13.
But because birthdate boundaries are more lenient in the USA Freshmen could be a year or so younger and seniors older!

Moski Tue 14-Oct-08 17:59:47

Freshman in high school in the U.S. are in 9th grade--14 or 15 years old. (we don't count Kindergarten as 1st grade) Freshman in college are in their first year of college. In order to get a medical degree in the U.S. you have to finish an undergraduate degree (4 years) and then a medical degree (4 years) and then complete interships, residencies, fellowships, etc. A student can major in anything they want in the first four years, but have to take a certain amount of science and math to go on to medical school (pre-med focus).

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