Instead of focusing on the healthcare side of this trip we had a full day of education lectures today. Overall we got to learn about the public education system in the UK and specifically England. The first lecture really focused on thai topic, how the system works in England and the different types of schools and all the types of testing. There are five stages of education in England, 1. Early years (ages 1-5), 2. Primary School (ages 5-11), 3, Secondary School (ages 12-16), 4. Further education (until age 18), 5. Higher education which is any degree level study. In secondary school here you must do the GCSEs and obtain a certain score inorder to pass. The GCSEs in the last few years switched from letter grades of A-G to number grades 1-9, nine being the equivalent to an A++ (yes I know there are two plus signs). Once you have passed the GSCEs you are allowed to learn school at age 16, I did know this before I came on this trip however I learn that there is a catch to this rule. The UK government does allow you to leave school at 16 once you have passed the GSCEs but you cannot leave education until the age of 18. This was confusing to me at first because I did not understand how you can do education but not be in school. I learned that you can do apprenticeships or vocational programs or courses while you are working and that is considered education. From this I feel like the UK has a more holistic view and definition of education than the US.
Next we focused on the types of schools in the UK. There were seven types of schools we discussed, grammar schools, comprehensive schools, faith schools, free schools, academies, special schools and private schools. Grammar schools are selective schools that all students in the UK can try and test into once they are 11, this is the only time you can take the test to enter the school. An interesting rule about this is that the UK government said that no new grammar schools can be created, additionally grammar schools are state funded. Comprehensive schools are the equivalent of what we consider public schools. Faith schools are schools that are associated with religious beliefs. Free schools are when someone in a community creates a school that is tailored to their community. Academies are schools that do not necessarily need to follow the national curriculum, they are schools that are typically owned by someone and they are run more like a business. Special schools are schools that provide education to children that have a disability or special needs. Private schools are the same as what they are in the US. An interesting fact I learned today was that in school they categorize poverty, as in there students are considered to be in poverty or not in poverty on whether or not they qualify for free school meals. This really surprised me because it’s such a binary way to categorize poverty, I also think it’s an inaccurate measurement of poverty. I am interested in why the education system chose to use this as the measurement for poverty.
The second part of our morning lecture was focused on the early years education system in the UK. Compared to the US the early years in the UK is more complex and more developed and widespread. Some of the providers of early education are childminders, nursery classes, reception classes, group-based care, private daycare, maintained nursery schools, and creche. I do not fully understand or remember the exact role of each of these providers but I do remember that it’s more complex. Something I found surprising was that only in 2008 was there an official system of early teras that was implemented across the UK. This surprised me because we learned so much about the importance of the early years in children. The first three years of someone’s life are typically the most critical.
Our second lecture of the day came after lunch and was about the educational perspective of supporting children with special needs and disabilities. It was intriguing to see this from an educational perspective and not a medical one as a nursing student. I had very little knowledge into the process of getting educational help when you are a child for the family of a child with special needs, but from this session I learned a lot about that process in the UK and US. In the UK anything having to do with educational and special needs there is a SENDCO involved. SENDCO stands for special education needs and/or disabilities coordinator. They do a lot of work and communication between health and education and help get the process started for children who need education health care plans (EHCP). Our last session happened after we did a canal boat tour of Birmingham which was very scenic. In this session we learned a lot about Stockport Team around the School (TAS) which is a program that looks at trying to lower the rate of referrals to schools in Stockport which is a suburb of Manchester. The main focus of the project is to see if they are saving social care time and money by figuring out how they can help families and children before and after referrals.