scottS4 wrote:i've always been confused by the english education system. i've heard of things like O levels, A levels, GCSE's, college starting at 16, etc.. Can someone english please explain how your system works?
Many years ago, you would go through primary, junior and upper schools. The school year runs September to August and in the year you were 16, you would normally take O Levels in up to 8 subjects (9 if you were really bright). They would be made up of one or more exam papers, no coursework. If you wanted to go to University, you would need to take A Levels for the following two years and the grades would dictate the courses you could go on. Typically, people would take 3 A Levels. Alternatively, you could go to college at 16 as University was traditionally for courses involving maths, law, science etc. If you wanted to learn a trade, college was the way to go.
Today, they've arsed around so some areas of the country have 2 levels of school (as stated earlier) and others have kept three (I have no idea why). Exams have been tweaked, renamed (GCSEs), rebranded, dumbed down etc so now you can do loads of course work over a couple of years and retake exam papers with a lot more ease than is practical. This makes it easier to get better grades than under the O Level system where everything relied on a 3 hour exam.
The system has been restructured so you can take even more exams because schools are judged on performance league tables. There have been accusations of dumbing down questions and when you see that exam results have improved for 22 years in a row and the percentage of students who gain A* grades (even better than A) is around 23%, you feel the accusations may have some substance. I believe that it is possible to get the equivalent of around 13 GCSEs by the time you are 16.
Colleges and Unis offer a massive range of courses in useful subjects such as Surf Science and Technology which you can Plymouth Uni. In the last 10 years or so, the number of people going to Uni has jumped from around 150,000 to neared 500,000 which has eventually resulted in fees being increased as it costs a lot of money to educate.
This has caused a bit of an outcry as people still want to take a degree in Surf Science and Technology (and other equally useless courses) but don't want to pay anything up to £9,000 a year as they realise they'll never get a job that would pay back the money. However, its not a problem is someone else pays for it.