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British Schools – How Are They Different From Schools Abroad?


The British schools are among the most respected in the entire world. This is why the British schooling system is not only implemented in the United Kingdom. In fact, there are new schools implementing British education values all around the world. A great example of that is the Wycombe Abbey School Hong Kong British primary school.  Why is this happening?

The big reason to highlight is that the British education system is perceived as being one of the best in the entire world. Understanding why this is the case should start with comparing them with other schools from around the world. Here are the main differences that should be highlighted. 

Wearing Uniforms

In most countries, students get to mostly wear whatever they want. Britain students on the other hand wear a uniform. In the case of traditional schools, we talk about ties and blazers. Modern schools tend to implement neutral trousers, sweatshirts, and polo shirts. 

While controversial, it is believed that wearing uniforms helps since it removes distinctions. All students are seen as the same. While it is definitely a problem that teachers need to waste time in correcting uniform-related problems, we should highlight that the rebellious nature of some teenagers ends up focused on the uniform in most cases. Students lash out less at school property and teachers. 

Access To Educational Aids

In most countries, students need to buy their own school manuals and textbooks. In the UK, things are different. The student needs to buy the uniform, pencils, pens, and the bag. However, this is pretty much it. Exercises books and textbooks will be provided by the educational institution. Free school lunch is also given for the first 3 primary school years. 

The students learning in the UK get to be homogeneous because of using the same educational aids and wearing the same uniforms. Also, every school will have a unique branding and identity. This encourages competitions between the schools. 

School Starts Very Early

Semi-formal education will start in the UK when the student is 5 years old or even younger. The learning offered is not structured. It does not use whiteboards or memorization. Most of the curriculum is made out of stories and coloring. 

Primary school usually starts when the student is 11 years old. Then, secondary school is in place. The fact that the students go to school so early means they will be much more prepared for the rigorous system that will follow. 

Repeating A School Year Is Rare

It is quite rare to see any student end up repeating a school year in British education. In most other countries, the student who was not able to reach the needed level in a year will have to go through it again with other classmates as company, one year younger. Usually, in Britain, this happens just in primary school. 

What is more normal is to see brighter students moving up one year. They are going to end up studying with older classmates. But, even is can be considered as being rare. 

Autonomous Individual Schools

There is almost always an external body that dictates how state schools are being run around the globe. This includes options like state-level or local-level authority. With the UK, things are different. Schools do need to follow a preset national curriculum but individual schools can choose the exam boards used, what extra subjects are going to be taught, the uniform that is going to be used, foreign exchanges, the way in which budgets are spent, how students are being selected, and more. 

There are also free academies and schools. They are new and have huge flexibility. 

Because of the autonomous individual schools, what students learn at the exact same level of education can vary a lot. New headteachers also tend to make a huge difference in how the school operates and what it teaches. 

Teachers Need To Earn Respect

In the UK, the relationship between the students and the teacher is informal. Teachers do usually end up being addressed by surname and title, with Miss and Sir as the main convenient shorthand options accepted. It is very rare for a teacher to want the classroom to stand up as they enter. At the same time, classes should always pay attention and be quiet during classes. 

What is interesting is that students in Great Britain do not naturally respect their teachers. This respect does have to be earned. In many other countries, this respect is either always in place or not existent. 

Fewer Subjects Studied

When secondary school starts in Britain, around one dozen subjects are studied. When the student reaches age 15, only core subjects are taught. This is the same in most countries. However, when reaching the start of sixth form, A-levels just cover around 4 subjects chosen by the student. As a result, the student can just focus on what they desire. The overall academic path is basically chosen a lot earlier than in other countries. The education thus becomes deeper as opposed to broader. 

Encouragement To Speak Up

Most modern teachers want their students to be independent. They want to offer lively, varied lessons. They also care about students having opinions and speaking up. As a result, you will so often see many students working in groups. Tasks are being discussed and desks can be placed in rows, with the setting ready for debates. Classmates often give presentations and you can always see something new being popular in different schools. 

Individual thought and creativity stand out as vital for British classrooms. When there is an error in a presentation or in a textbook, students will surely point it out. Facts and memorization are always going to be kept at a minimum. Active learning styles are heavily preferred. Students are faced with a creative and very flexible way to learn. 

On the whole, the British school system can be seen as different but it is effective when looking at overall results. This is why it is always preferred to most other systems in the world. 

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