These are some of the funniest reviews I’ve read in a long time.
A quick note on British schools, brought on by this post, in case people don’t quite get what I’m saying because we do things strangely over here.
Disclaimer: this is just the general gist of how most schools work over here, some do things differently, but this basic system is what I was talking about, so it’s what I’m going to explain. I’m not going into A Levels vs. IB or anything.
This is the basis of the school system in England, Wales, and I think Northern Ireland. Scotland do their own thing, as they are wont to do.
Okay, so primary education in the UK technically starts at five - though many schools have classes for 4 year olds, to get them used to school hours etc - and lasts until age 11. This is called Key Stage 1 & 2.
At 11, you move up to secondary school. This is the start of Key Stage 3, which is still very general in terms of subjects. It lasts for the first three years of secondary school, usually referred to as years 7, 8 & 9. (In the UK, we continue counting on years from primary school)
At the end of year 9, you choose the subjects that you want to carry on with and take a qualification in. Most students will drop 5 or 6 subjects and carry on with about 9. You can do more or less if you wish. At this point you can often choose to start in subjects which are not offered to younger years.
Years 10 and 11 then, when you are aged 14-16, are Key Stage 4. You study your chosen, narrowed range of classes, and take exams in them at the end of year 11. You do not pass or fail school as a whole - you pass or fail the individual courses. This allows people who suck at certain subjects to get qualifications in the ones they are good at without their grades being pulled down.
At this point, you can leave school. If your birthday is in August, then you have officially finished compulsory schooling before you’re even 16.
You can choose to stay on at school if you want to; you narrow your subject range down to 3 or 4, and you study these intensively. This is Key Stage 5 (years 12 & 13), and it’s usually necessary to have these qualifications to get into University. Some people leave school and take the same courses in colleges instead.
So in terms of my personal experience: my year group was around 180 people. Around two thirds of them left at 16, so a group of about 50-60 people came back. An average class size at this point was about 8/9 people; there was no guarantee that your friends would be taking the same classes as you, so you often ended up talking to people you didn’t know. By the end of year 12, I’d say we were down to about 40 people in the year. By this point everyone knew everyone else because there were just so few of us. We shared a common room and study room, we couldn’t really avoid each other. The entire year group was always invited to each others parties. It was…very awesome actually, I guess a kind of forced intimacy.
Right okay but what do people do if they choose to leave at 16? What can you do? It just miffs me that 2/3 of the kids left so early.
Uh, it depends. Quite a lot of people just get jobs straight away; some do apprenticeships or specialised training that schools don’t offer - to be plumbers, electricians, hairdressers etc; some carried on with their qualifications, they just did them at college instead of school; some got married; some joined the armed forces. Some just did bugger all, to be honest.