School Systems in Europe and America

School system in England

At an age of five, English children start to go to a play school or kindergarden. At an age of eight, they regularly go to a primary school, where they stay for four years. After primary school, the children are now about twelve years old, they go to a comprehensive school for five years. At the end of this period they pass an examination which is called "GCSE Exam", it corresponds to our "Realschulabschlußprüfung".

If they have good marks and want to continue for another one year, they can pass the "A-Level Exam", which can be compared to the German school-leaving exam. After passing the examinations, they can either go to a university as well as to an advanced technical college or they enter a profession as an apprentice. 7 % of the English children go to a public school after primary school. Public schools are private elitist grammar schools for which you have to pay very much. These students have the chance to go to elitist universities in Oxford or Cambridge.

English pupils do not repeat the class, they are always dragged along with the class. In England the lessons begin at 9:05 o'clock and take 70 minutes in general. Between 11.30 and 11.50 o'clock there is lunch-time at school and the students have their meals. Lessons end in the afternoon at about 4 o'clock normally.

By Lisa Tophoven

School system in Spain

Education in Spain is free. You have to go ten years to school. First children at the age of three go for two years to a nursery school. At the age of six they go for six years to a primary school. After that, at an age of twelve, children can go to schools where they obtain further education for four years. After this period students could decide between making a vocational training for two years or the "Bachillerato", which is a preparation for the university.

The university system consists of three steps: 1. The first takes three years and is called "Diplomatura". 2. The second step takes three years and is called "Licenciatura". 3. Students, who will reach a doctor's degree, have to make the third step for two years and have to write a thesis.

By Maria Bürger

School system in France

At an age of three, French children start to go to a voluntary all-day school ("école maternelle"). At an age of six, they regularly go to primary school ("école primaire") where they stay five years. After primary school the children are now about eleven years old and go to a "college" for four years. At the end of this period, they pass an examination which is called "Brévet". After passing the "Brévet", they can either go to high school ("lycée") or to a vocational school ("lycée professionel"). The third alternative is to enter a profession as an apprentice. The vocational school takes two years and high school takes three years. At the end of the last class of high school, they pass the examination "le bac".

French pupils normally stay twelve years in school to pass the school-leaving exam ("le bac"). Teachers make the report with a point system. Number 0 is the worst mark and number 20 the best. The lessons in France begin at 9:00 o'clock and take 55 minutes in general. Between 13:00 and 13:55 o'clock there is lunch-time at school and the pupils have their meals. Lessons end in the afternoon at about 5 o'clock normally.

By Lisa Tophoven & Maria Bürger

Comparison between the school system of France, England, Spain and Germany

In general English, French and Spanish pupils have six units a day, each takes 55-70 minutes. Due to the fact that units in these countries take 10-25 minutes longer than in Germany, they are able to learn more.

English pupils have to wear a school uniform in order to avoid displaying the differences between rich and poor pupils. Whereas in Germany it is important to wear expensive cloths with a famous label to be integrated in a group.

From my point of view it is good that England, France and Spain have a school system where children are not selected or have to choose between three different kinds of schools too early which can influence their whole life. In Germany pupils have to decide after four school years which school-line they want to pass. This decision is very important because it can have an impact on your future. You cannot say after this short period which school is suitable for you. Because of this fact pupils often take a wrong decision. The German school system has to be changed to become modern and competitive compared with other countries.

The American school system consists of elementary, Junior High and High School. We will focus on the high School, which educates students from 9th grade to 12th grade. Everyone of these grades has its own name : the 9th is called " Freshman", the 10th "Sophomore", the 11th "Junior" and the last - the 12th - "Senior".

A High School day has normally six to seven hours of class. Students can get lunch in the school cafeteria around 12 o' clock.

The American school system offers a lot of opportunities : you can choose different kinds of calluses and join any kinds of after-school activities.

The High School goes further than just teaching the students the main subjects like English, mathematics, biology, geography, history and so on. Many different languages are offered : for example French, Russian, German, Greek, Spanish and Chinese. High School prepares pupils also for college. You can choose college classes like law, medicine, engineering and higher classes of the main subjects in general.

The after-school activities are also main part of the American school system, because there are no "outside school activities". Students have the opportunity to follow their personal interests: sports, music, theatre, writing, media and cooking. Sports are the first choice of the students because it has the most diverse offer. From aerobic, basketball, baseball, cheerleading, dancing, football, hockey, softball, swimming and track up to rugby -everything is possible.

You finish High School after 12th grade with a big celebration - the graduation which you can compare with the "Abitur". In America you are not allowed to leave school before the 12th grade.

In our opinion the American High School system has positive and negative aspects. On the one hand it is an advantage to have "outside school activities" brought into the everyday school life, so you do not have to pay for any sport clubs - everything is sponsored and organised by school.

But on the other hand the level of achievement is lower than the German level. We can give these statements because of our own experiences and impressions, but you can not generalize it.

Julia Finken, Anika Lier