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Secondary education in the UK

Secondary education is compulsory in the UK. The main objective is to prepare children to pass the state examination and receive a General Certificate of Secondary Education. This stage of education provides a wide range of humanities, science, arts and sports. It is believed that at this stage pupils can identify their aptitudes for studying a particular subject in more detail, at a specialised level.

However, it should be remembered that this certificate is not enough to reach a new level of knowledge by entering a higher education institution. For this purpose, students need to have Advanced Level and International Baccalaureate certificates. These are required to continue their studies at universities in the country.

Programmes in place in schools:

  • General Certificate of Secondary Education pupils gain this by sitting examinations at the age of 16, after Year 11;

  • The Advanced Level Certificate – is awarded to those who have already completed their studies at the school. The programme is a subject-based qualifying series of examinations;

  • International Baccalaureate Certificate – an educational programme to prepare graduates for admission to the best universities in other countries.

British education system

School education in Britain has two sectors: public and private. All citizens of the country who have reached the age of five are entitled to free public school education. Foreign children can also study for free, but on condition that their parents are legally resident in the country.

In public schools, decisions are made by a board of trustees. This body supervises the learning process.

Public schools are managed directly by their owners. As a rule, such institutions have a higher level of teaching staff and better conditions. Accordingly, better results are achieved

Secondary education in England is divided into stages-stages according to age:

  • Stage 1 (five to seven years old);

  • Stage 2 (sevento eleven);

  • Stage 3 (eleven to fourteen);

  • Stage 4. (fourteen to sixteen);

  • Stage 5 (sixteen to 18 years old).

In non-public schools, the educational institution decides and announces the beginning of the school year and holidays on its own. In public schools, such decisions are made by local executive bodies. Only the number of classes does not change. According to the rules, the number of lessons must be at least 380. Lesson plans (from 35 to 60 minutes) are prepared by the teachers of educational institutions. Classes last five to six hours a day.

Both public and other educational institutions, apart from sports, offer students many extracurricular activities. These include a wide range of musical, dramatic, literary circles, visits to theatres, historical monuments and much more.

Of course, there is also a compulsory set of disciplines, which changes according to the age of the pupils:

  • Foreign Language;

  • Biology;

  • Chemistry;

  • Physics;

  • History;

  • Geography;

  • Music and Art;

  • Theatre and Drama Skills;

  • Informatics;

  • Social Studies;

  • Natural Sciences;

  • Information and computer technology;

  • Humanities and exact sciences.

British secondary schools endeavour to provide pupils with a basic knowledge of a wide variety of subjects, and pupils can study ethics, psychology, economics, robotics and design as additional general subjects. The educational process lasts until the end of July.

Cost of studying

Public schoolscost between £6,000 and £26,000. Children aged eleven to thirteen can be placed in a boarding school if their parents wish. Boarding schools cost up to £45,000 (including accommodation and meals).

Private schools also offer various benefits in the form of scholarships. But usually only part of the tuition is paid.

In 2022, the cost of eleven weeks of tuition at a fee-paying primary school would be no more than £8600, at a secondary school no more than £11,000 thousand, and at a senior school of the same institution no more than £12,000.

At the same time, full-time education at independent boarding establishments will cost 35 – 40 per cent less, and without full boarding can be even cheaper.

The price of education in secondary schools in England can be very different and depends on many nuances. There is no specific price tag, so it is most likely impossible to prepare for it financially. The price in this or that school depends on how much and what classes are included in the programme, what status the school has.

What influences pricing?

First and foremost, the form of education (an institution with residential facilities will cost more than a full-time school).

If the educational institution has an international status and/or high ranking, the tuition fees will be higher.

Campus locations and facilities play a big part in pricing, too.

Also important are the number of students, the availability of benefits, and the cost of electives (classes outside the curriculum).

It should be remembered that in fee-paying schools you will have to pay separately for school uniforms, sportswear and shoes. Parents will have to buy all these things for their child themselves. Also, the payment does not include various trips to cultural and historical institutions, trips abroad. A separate item of expenditure is payment for registration, and sometimes for study aids.

Comparative price table

Educational institutions£
“Westbourne School is a boarding school. 9 192 – 40 620
Shebbear College is an independent public school.6 090 – 34 500
“St. Lawrence College is a private boarding school. 9255 – 12 303
Bilton Grange School, a private prep school.26 490

Advantages and disadvantages of a British education

CEOWORLD magazine’s rankings put the UK at the top of the list of 15 countries with the best education system.

Among the advantages of local secondary education, the first thing to note is that a variety of classes and practical lessons are practised here. Another advantage is that British schools are equipped with modern facilities, staffed by professional teachers, and British programmes of study are rigorously tested for quality.

Pros of British Secondary Education:

  • Consists in many world rankings;

  • Ultimate concentration on core subjects;

  • A huge range of extra-curricular activities that maximise the pupil’s horizons and personality.

Minuses of secondary education in the UK:

  • The high cost of tuition at private institutions;

  • Strictdiscipline.

How do I get into a British school?

Public secondary education in the UK is free of charge. It will be necessary to provide proof of residence (this may be utility bills, local tax bills). Only after presenting this document can you submit the relevant documents to the school for processing.

You are also required to fill in a questionnaire and make a list of the highest priority schools that parents have chosen for their child. The priority in the allocation is the proximity of residence to the institution, this affects the decision to enrol in the school. Therefore, many parents seek to rent or purchase a home in a neighbourhood with a good school in order to provide their child with a decent level of education.

The enrolment response is delivered by post or email.

The benefits of English education for foreign children:

  • The diploma is quoted in the vast majority of countries around the world;

  • Knowledge of English to perfection;

  • Teachers of the highest qualification, state-of-the-art infrastructure.

Some state schools, which have a reputable base, a highly professional team of teachers, modern equipment and the latest teaching methods, select pupils based on their ability. Elite schools in Britain are characterised by strict selection of students, conducting two rounds of examinations.

In a grammar-intensive school you must pass exams in maths, English and write an essay. Some schools in Britain use a computerised test to assess the ability of a future pupil.

FAQs about  secondary education in the UK

Which school to choose?

Criteria to follow when choosing a school in the UK:

  • Location of the school. Is it located in a safe neighbourhood? Is it easy to get to? Whatarethetransportlinks?

  • Is the school co-educational or gender-segregated? Co-educational schools are characterised by high performance.

  • Does the school of your choice have the programme of study you need?

  • If the student is active in sports, it is necessary to find out whether the school has sports classes and whether the necessary equipment is available. The same applies to clubs and classes in art or theatre, or military training, entrepreneurial skills classes.

  • An important indicator of schools is their ranking. It is the face of the academic performance of its students.

What are the best secondary education institutions in Britain?

The most advanced, prestigious secondary schools in England are considered to be:

  1. CardiffCollege.

  2. Perse School (Cambridge).

  3. Westminster School, (Westminster).

  4. King’s College Wimbledon School.

  5. Queen Ethelburga’s College (York).

  6. Concord College (Shrewsbury).

  7. London School for Girls.

  8. Aske’s haberdashers’ school for boys, Elstree.

  9. StJohn’sCollege, (Cardiff).

  10. King Edward’s School, (Birmingham).

  11. Magdalene College School (Oxford).

  12. University School of North London.

  13. GuildfordRoyalGrammarSchool.

  14. Alleyn School (Dulwich).

  15. Aske’s haberdashers’ school for girls, Borehamwood.

  16. QueenEthelburga’sFaculty.

  17. Brighton College.

  18. St Mary’s School in Ascot.

  19. HamptonSchool.

Can I apply to more than one school?

If parents are unsure whether their child will be able to get a place at their chosen secondary school, it is possible to apply to more than one school at the same time.

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