This newspaper article talks about Ofsted inspections of schools in England and Wales. The inspecting body has come under rather a lot of fire of late as they constantly seem to be moving the goal posts for teachers and schools. When talking about schools you need to be careful with your terminology:
- A state school is free of charge. It is funded by the government.
- A private school and a public school are the SAME thing. I know it doesn’t make any sense.
- A free school is a privately run school that doesn’t necessarily follow the national curriculum. It may give greater importance to some subjects or different learning styles.
- A chartered school is half paid for by the government and the other half is paid for by the parents.
- An academy is a relatively new name given schools to make them sound better than they are. (I am a tad cynical about them, sorry!)
- A grammar school is a secondary school for brighter children. They only exist in some areas these days. Children can take an exam (the 11 plus) at the end of primary school to determine whether or not they are intelligent enough to go to a grammar school.
- Single-sex schools is the term to refer to all boys or all girls schools.
- A boarding school is where the students live there during term time.
As for exams, the important ones at the age of 16 are called GCSEs and they are a broad range of compulsory and some optional subjects. The highest grade is an A*. After these exams students can leave school.
The equivalent of bachillerato are A levels. These days they’re split into two years (year 12 and 13/sixth form), the exams at the end of the first year called AS levels and at the end of the second, A2s. Students are free to choose what they study and it’s the results of these exams which determine whether students get into the university they want to go to. They normally choose four and then drop one for the second year to get 3 full A levels and one AS.
At university it depends on the degree programme you’re on as to how may exams you have or whether coursework and essays make up the majority of your mark for the year. You have to do all your modules the year you start them and if you fail the year you are out. At the end of the course you have exams called Finals. Again it depends on the degree programme as to how much weighting these have in your overall mark.
Universities mark in a peculiar way: 70% and above is a first; 60% and above is a 2:1 (said two one), over 50% is a 2:2 (two two): over 40% is a third; below 40% is a fail. Most employers look for 2:1s from potential candidates. Some people get firsts, but not many. At my university I don’t know of anyone getting above 75% even when they get a first. It’s quite tough. When you get your degree you either have a BA (bachelor of arts) or BSc (bachelor of science). If you want to study more, you can study a Masters and then go on to study a Phd.