2.11 Comparative Education: Can you analyze the British Educational System?


2.11 Provide an analysis of the educational system of England


It is good to study the educational system of England since the educational systems of most African countries are modeled on them. In fact Africa today is divided and often referred to as either English or French speaking. In this topic therefore we would like to trace the background of the educational systems of France and England, identify the major characteristics of these two systems of education and also compare the two educational systems.


One of the main characteristic of the English education system is the local autonomy in the management and control of education. This characteristic may be traced to the elementary Bill of 1970, which introduced a national system of education by preserving voluntary (charitable) schools (schools organized and supported by people who give their services without expecting rewards/payments ), dividing the country in school districts, giving denominations a short period in which to provide schools with aid for buildings and encouraging the central government to be neutral and secular, following the enactment of the Act, enrollment in schools increased and by 1880 elementary education had been made fully compulsory and by 1981 largely free

The Education ACT of 1902 further enhanced the development of this Act, since it marked a new beginning in the English Educational system. For the first time in English History of Education, all grades i.e. elementary, secondary and higher education were put under the control of one single local authority. At the same time the state assumed the whole responsibility of secular instruction of the people

The Education Act of 1944 introduced the three stages of the English Education system i.e primary, secondary and further education.

The Act also introduced compulsory education for age 5-15 years


The structure of the Education system

Levels of Education

Pre-primary Education

This is for children aged 3 months to three years

Provision  of  education  is  largely  by  private  and  voluntary  sectors  and  parents  pay  fees. Voluntary sectors did not pay. The provision of education from age 3-5 years is currently being expanded and developed in conjunction with private and voluntary sectors. The 2002 education act

Primary education

This caters for children aged 5-11 years

Education is compulsory from age five. There is no charge for admitting pupils to public funded primary schools. Due to this there was a large number of pupils to join public primary school. Pr

Parents may apply to any school for a place for their child

The local authority or the school governing body establishes an admission policy to explain how places will be allocated if there are more applicants than places at the school

However Admission policies usually give priority to

  • Children who live closest to the school
  • Children who already have brothers and sisters at the school
  • Or Children with special needs which may be best met by the school

Note this:

All primary schools accept pupils without regard to ability

All primary schools are of mixed sex

The curriculum of the primary school is divided into 2 key stages (KS). KS 1 for ages 5-7 and KS2 for ages 7- 11. Pupils study English, design & technology, geography, information technology, music, science, art, physical education and History except foreign language. Outside the national curriculum religious education is also compulsory from KS1.

Promotion from one stage to the other is automatic and does not depend on results of the assessment, however there are statutory assessments on entry to primary school and at the end of Key Stages 1 & 2. These assessments include teacher assessments and externally set and externally marked and moderated tests.

Secondary Education

It caters for children aged 11 – 16 or 18.

No charge is made for pupils getting admitted to to publicly funded secondary schools.. These secondary schools accept students without regard to academic abilities.

At secondary school level pupils continue with two more stages, KS3 (11 to 14),KS4 (14 to 16). (Fewer subjects) A foreign language is compulsory at KS3.

Similar sex education is compulsorily taught from KS3

At this level there are two public examinations, the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), taken after two years, beginning in year 10 and ending in may/june of year 11. Here up to 10 subjects are taken but the average is 6. Then there is the General Certificate of Education (Advanced Level) taken after 2 years, beginning in year 12 and the exams are taken in may/june of year 13. Here 5 or 5 subjects may be studied and grades awarded are A-E. A student is offered a place in the university based on the grades obtained at this level.

Higher Education

Higher education refers to all post school courses above the ‘A’ Level standards. Higher Education institutions include universities polytechnics, and colleges. The 1992 Act enabled polytechnics to award their own degrees. These institutions are autonomous and each determines their own admission policy and requirements.

The Universities and colleges however have the Universities and College admission service, (UCAs) which acts as a central agency on behalf of the universities and colleges. The UCAs process student’s application to courses at these institutions.

Teacher Education

The training of teachers in England involves a four year bachelor of Education degree course or a bachelors degree course followed by a one year postgraduate Certificate in education (PGCE). Teachers ARE not civil servants, and are either employed by the local authority or by the individual institution depending on the type of school

Administration and financing of Education

In England most pupils and students attend public schools. For example in the year 2000 about 96%  of  the  students  in  primary  secondary  and  higher  education  were  in  public  funded institutions. The rest were in private institutions that are not aided by the government such as independent schools.

Public schools are financed by the government and administered through local authorities. However, today many public schools finance their own finances, these schools are known as grant maintained schools.

The independent schools (schools in the private sector), rely solely on fees charged to parents. Majority of them are boarding schools and a few day schools.

National  the  responsibility  of  providing  education  services  lies with  the  department  for Education and Skills (DEFs) in England.

The inspection of schools is the responsibility of a separate, non ministerial government department known as the Office for standards in Education (Ofsted).

The planning and funding of further education is the responsibility of the learning and skills council (LSC) in England.

Some Contemporary issues in Education

There is no. of issue that determines the process of comparative, among the many factor to be given consideration may be include the following.

  1. Unprecedented growth of population
  2. The development and growth of knowledge particularly in science and technology.
  3. Rising aspiration .i.e. heightened about what education can do.
  4. Processes of urbanization.

Sample problems.

  1. Educational technology.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s