The United Kingdom, like many other countries, has compulsory education laws. These laws mandate school attendance from age 5 to age 16. Secondary school continues on until the age of 18, but many students leave school at age 16 and move into the workforce. Although compulsory education begins at age five, many three and four year olds attend nursery schools. Currently approximately two thirds of youngsters in the United Kingdom attend nursery school. Attending nursery school socializes children at a younger age and prepares them for compulsory education at age five.
The education system in the United Kingdom provides a free education to students in three stages. The first two levels are primary and secondary education which falls under local government control. The United Kingdom has a mandated a national curriculum that is used country wide to ensure that all students in the public school system receive the same standardized education. Tertiary education offers a university level education. Tertiary education falls under central government control and consists of colleges and universities that provide education and training such as vocational education and teacher's training. . Secondary education can include vocational education designed to prepare the student for national vocational certifications.
Primary school in the United Kingdom is very much like primary school in other countries. Children are taught by one teacher. This teacher teaches several subjects to his/her students. At about age eleven children move on to secondary school and are taught by a number of teachers. These teachers teach specific subjects. At age sixteen compulsory education ends and students may choose to stay on or leave school. Many students choose to leave school and join the workforce.
The United Kingdom does give their youth another choice. This choice is an apprenticeship program. (Steedman, 2001). Students that choose an apprenticeship as a route to a career are tasked with finding an employer that offers an apprenticeship. This can be done by looking for advertisements or through their Local Training and Enterprise Councils (TEC). Most apprenticeships are begun by being directed to a training provider (Steedman, 2001) who trains the student and then directs the student to possible employers.
Other parts of the United Kingdom prepare their youth a little differently for higher education. But, in the end all have the same qualifications to move on to higher education. This includes Wales, Ireland, and Scotland.
The students who choose to stay on have several options. They can attend to sixth form, choose to attend vocational training, or enter an apprenticeship programme. The apprenticeship programmes and vocational training prepare the students to obtain certification through the National Vocational Qualification Programme.
Educational Shortfalls in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom's "main area of weakness is the comparatively large number of school dropouts at the age of 16"(RocSearch, 2006). The low staying on rate at age 16 causes these students to enter the work world with little or no vocational education. These students end up in low paying jobs. There are not enough students staying in school, primarily in vocational education, to train for vocational job in the United Kingdom. Businesses in the United Kingdom require a workforce that is trained and ready to work. The United Kingdom