Another school strike - what to know about the English education system -
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Another school strike - what to know about the English education system

With the National Union of Teachers set to take strike action on 10th July, it is important for expats planning to live in the UK to know about the British education system. Schools in England and Wales are to face disruption. As well as being aware of this, it is also essential to know about the schooling system.

The English education system is divided into four stages: the early years for those aged 3 to 4, primary education for those aged 4 to 11, secondary education for those aged 11 to 18 and tertiary education for those aged 18 and above.

Full-time education is compulsory for all children aged between 5 and 17. As of 2015, the compulsory age will be raised to 18 due to a change in law by the Education and Skills act.

Sixth form is further study for those aged 16 to 18, and at present is not compulsory. Students will either study in the sixth form of a school or of a college. Sixth form study is essential in order to study at university.

English secondary schools are mostly comprehensive and the majority of students attend state-funded schools without charge. Sixth form education and state-provided schooling is paid for by taxes. The school year typically begins on September the 1st.

You are likely to come across the term Ofsted. All state-funded schools are inspected by the Office for Standards in Education, also known as Ofsted. Regular reports on the quality of education on each school are published.

Students can choose to go into higher education. They usually enter university from the age of 18 with the aim to graduate with an academic degree. Typically, the first degree offered at English universities is the bachelor’s degree and it usually lasts for three years. During their time at university, students are referred to as undergraduates.

The university admission system is operated by UCAS. Students decide upon a subject they wish to study and choose five universities to apply to. Applications usually have to be made by 15th January. For those applying to Oxford University and Cambridge University, and for those choosing to study medicine, veterinary science or dentistry, applications must be made by 15th October.

Higher education is financed by the state via tuition fees. In the 2011-2012 academic year, the majority of English, Welsh and EU undergraduate fees were £3,375 per year. Undergraduates from the 2012-2013 academic year and onwards, will pay tuition fees set at a maximum of £9,000 per year. These fees have to be repaid after graduation but only when the graduate is earning a certain level of income.

In England and Wales, the majority of full-time university students attend universities that are situated far from home. As a result, most universities provide rented accommodation for students, particularly in the first year of study. These are typically called halls and are either situated on campus or somewhere nearby.

A postgraduate degree is an option for those students who have completed and graduated with a degree. Postgraduate degrees are either Master’s which is typically taken in one year, or a doctorate which is typically taken in three years. A postgraduate education is not usually funded by the state.

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