The British and American school system


Introduction: The British, American and Czech educational systems are similar in dividing into basic schooling and higher education. But there are many differences in education in these countries.

The American system: When American children finish nursery school and kindergarten, they start elementary school at the age of 6. Then they continue at a junior and senior high school. If they want to go to a university, they are required to pass the SAT exam (Scholastic Aptitude Test).
In the USA there are both public and private schools. The rule is that the more you pay the better education you get. So at public schools there are usually children from poor families and the quality of education is usually very low. The most famous universities are Yale University and Harvard University.

The British system: Schooling is compulsory from the age of five to the age of sixteen. So children have eleven years of obligatory school altogether. Their school day starts generally at 9 a.m.and they finish at about 4 p.m.
At the age of five English children start their primary education and when they are seven years old the move from infant to junior primary school.
At the age of eleven they can continue at secondary school. When they are sixteen, all students have to take GCSE exams, which is a General Certificate of Secondary Education. After that they can either leave school and start work or go on for vocational training. But if they want to study at a university, they have to stay two more years as “sixth formers” and take the “A-levels”, meaning advanced level, an exam taken in two or three subjects. The students study just the subjects necessary for the A-levels. Students who have passed this exam may go to the university.
There are many types of secondary schools in Britain, for example Secondary Modern School, Grammar School, Comprehensive Schools. Most schools have their own uniform that students have to wear.
“Public schools” in Britain are actually not public at all. They are private and very expensive. Most of them are boarding schools meaning that students stay at the school, they study, eat and sleep there. These schools are often single-sex and they have uniforms, which the students are usually proud of. The most well-known English public schools are Eton, Harrow or Rugby.
Britain’s oldest and most famous universities are Oxford and Cambridge, called “Oxbridge”. University students have lectures, tutors or professors, not teachers. Students receive grants to pay for courses fees and their living expenses like food, accommodation. Students while at university are called undergraduates and upon leaving – graduates.
In Scotland the educational system is a bit different. Students take SCE (Scottish Certificate of Education) instead of GCSE and then the Highers instead of A-levels.