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Ever wondered how schools in other countries work? Here is an insight into one... It is very different to the American schooling system! The Welsh (and British) School system comprises of 'Primary' school (elementary: 1st-5th grade) and High School (a combination of middle, junior high and high school: 6th-12th grade). Children start school the year they turn 4, beginning from September 1st. Besides 'Reception' (the first year of school), the grades are allocated numbers, but are referred to as 'Years', and extend to year 13. Primary school consists of general education in Maths, Science, English, Welsh, History, Art, Geography, Information Technology (I.T), Music and Physical Education. This continues to the first three years of High school - years 7 to 9 - where another language, e.g. French or German, as well as Home Economics, Design Technologies and Textiles can also be added, dependant upon the school attended. When students reach year 10 (beginning the year they turn 15, from September 1st). They begin a two year programme called GCSE; General Certificate of Secondary Education. Pupils choose 3-4 sujects that they would like to pursue for the next two years, along with the core Math, Science, English and Welsh, which is a requirement of the law. Different High Schools also have other requirements, e.g. Religious Studies or IT, and most High Schools require GCSE students to take classes in Physical Education (P.E.) and Personal and Social Education (P.S.E.), though they do not take exams in these classes or receive certificates for them. Most students will receive GCSE certificates for 10 subjects. After their GCSE exams in the summer of year 11, students, by law, are no longer required to attend school. Just like that! But there are a few available options for them, if they decide they would like to continue... 1. Get a job! 16 year-olds can go straight into full-time work, if they want to. 2. Apply for an apprenticeship. Specialized trades such as carpentry and brickwork often offer apprenticeships alongside professionals, for young people - you can sometimes get paid a small amount, while you are learning! 3. Go to a specialised trade school, e.g. Hair and Beauty. 4. Attend a 'Sixth Form College'. For those individuals who would like to go to University one day, unfortunately, another two years of school are required (year 12 and 13). Most High Schools have intergates Sixth Forms, but there are also colleges devoted solely to the teaching of A Levels. This is another two year degree, most similar to AP classes in the states. Students can study a wide range of subjects from Politics to Business Studies, Art and Design to Geology and Language to Psychology, and many, many more! Any combination of up to 4 (in rare cases 5) A Levels may be studied by any particular student. In some schools in Wales, the Welsh Baccaluareate Diploma is substituted for a 5th A Level.
Contributed by Sarah Joy Blankenship
Many schools in Wales are 'Welsh Medium' schools, meaning that all classes, even from elementary school age, are taught through Welsh. In English Medium schools, Welsh Language classes are mandatory untill students are 16. Here is a little Welsh lesson for you! Welsh became a dying language and the Welsh government decided to introduce it back into the education system as a requirement, in order to help it get back on its feet. Welsh is spoken as a first language by roughly 20% of the population of Wales. The only other place this language is spoken in is Argentina!
Contributed by Sarah Joy Blankenship