British Mainstream Education

Just arrived in the UK – Polish child goes to British school


Schooling in England: a toolkit for migrant parents and practitioners

In June 2016 a new toolkit Schooling in England: a toolkit for migrant parents and practitioner was published by specialists from Middlesex University London and the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC).

The toolkit was written primarily for newly arrived migrant parents but it may also be useful for teachers working with migrants, local authorities, organisations working with migrant families and other practitioners who assist migrant children or migrant families.

The toolkit in Polish and English versions is available here.

How to start – Q&A:

My family has just come to the UK/ We are planning to come to the UK soon.
What should we do to provide continuity of education for our child?

Currently in the UK education is obligatory until age of 17. This regulation was introduced in September 2013 (until then the education leaving age was 16) .

In England and Wales system of education covers four levels:
1. Primary school – (age of 5 – 11)
2. Secondary school – (age of 11- 17)
3. Further education – (age of 17 – 19)
4. Higher education – (after A – level <17)

Children until age of 17

All children in England between the ages of 5 and 17 are entitled to a free place at a state school. Most state schools have to follow the national curriculum. The most common ones are:

  • Community schools: controlled by the local council and not influenced by business or religious groups
  • Foundation schools: have more freedom to change the way they do things than community schools
  • Academies – publicly-funded independent schools. Some academies get funding from sponsors, business, faith or voluntary groups. They also get money direct from the government, not the local council. They’re run by a governing body which employs the staff. Academies don’t have to follow the national curriculum and can set their own term times and school hours. They still have to follow the same rules on admissions, special educational needs and exclusions as other state schools.
  • Grammar schools run by the council, a foundation body or a trust – they select all or most of their pupils based on academic ability and there is often an exam to get in.

In the UK there are also Private schools also known as ‘independent schools’ charge fees to attend instead of being funded by the government. Pupils don’t have to follow the national curriculum. There are also operating faith and special needs schools. Parents who want to enrol their children to the UK school should contact first local council. The Council Department for Education will guide through all regulations regarding admission process.

All schools have admission arrangements that clearly set out how children will be admitted, including the criteria that will be applied if there are more applications than places at the school. Admission arrangements are determined by admission authorities.

Primary and secondary education can be divided into four parts which concludes with examinations. Pupils take the examinations in age of 7, 11, 14, 16. The last one – the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) level gives access to the Further education in colleges or allows starting employment.

There is possible to apply for a place at a state primary or secondary school online (the service is available only in England) or by using your council’s application form.

For more information please go to the Department for Education, you can also find out what types of schools are available in the UK and other useful information.

Children until age of 16 – 18

In age of 16 children usually take GCSE examinations which are necessary to continue education at the A- level which over the course of two years provides preparation to take A-Level examinations being the English equivalent of Polish matriculation exams.

Further education (FE) includes any study after secondary education that’s not part of higher education, that is, not taken as part of an undergraduate or graduate degree. Courses range from basic English and maths to Higher National Diplomas (HNDs).

Many courses in reading, writing and basic maths are free, and you may not have to pay for tuition if you’re under 24 and studying for your first qualification equivalent to GCSE or A level. if you’re aged 16 or 17 you can study a further education (FE) course: full-time at school or college, while at work.

If you’re coming towards the end of a school or college course, you’re guaranteed a place on an FE course the following autumn if you are under 18 years old. Contact your school or local council to find out what’s on offer.

What are sixth-form colleges and what type of education do they provide?

Sixth-form colleges are not part of the schools sector but independent, autonomous institutions and an important part of the strong, coherent and diverse 16-19 provider base that forms the educational marketplace for young people and adults. The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 inserted new provisions into the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 to make provision for a new legally distinct sixth form college corporation sector. Schools regulations and Legislation do not apply to sixth-form colleges.

Children and young people age of 18 and more

After completion of A-level examinations young people can continue education at universities, colleges as well as completing General National Vocational Qualifications (GNVQs) or studding towards the Diploma.

What is the Diploma?  

The Diploma is a qualification for students aged 14 to 19 that combines academic and vocational learning. The Diploma has been developed in conjunction with employers, universities, schools and colleges, and provides students with the skills and knowledge they need to progress to further/higher education and employment.

All Diplomas are available at Foundation (level 1), Higher (level 2) and Advanced (level 3) levels. Fourteen Diplomas are available to schools and colleges. These are: Engineering, IT, Creative and media, Construction and the built environment, Society, health and development, Hair and beauty studies, Environment and land-based studies, Hospitality, Business, administration and finance, Manufacturing and product design, Travel and tourism, Public services, Retail business, Sport and active leisure.

What is GNVQs and NVQs?

GNVQs – General National Vocational Qualifications combines elements of thought courses with vocational learning. National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) provides only vocational learning based on skills, knowledge and qualifications required by employers.

More information in this section coming soon

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