Education in Wales: Wikis

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Education in Wales differs in certain respects from the systems used elsewhere in the United Kingdom. For example, a significant number of students all over Wales are educated either wholly or largely through the medium of Welsh: in 2008/09, 22 per cent of classes in maintained primary schools used Welsh as the sole or main medium of instruction.[1] Lessons in the language are compulsory for all until the age of 16. Welsh medium education is available to all age groups through nurseries, schools, colleges and universities and in adult education.

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The Structure of the Welsh Educational System

Since devolution policy in the four constituent countries of the UK has diverged: for example, England has pursued a model of education based on diversity and parental choice of school; Wales (and Scotland) remain more committed to the concept of the community-based comprehensive school. Systems of governance and regulation - the arrangements for planning, funding, quality-assuring and regulating learning, and for its local administration - are becoming increasingly differentiated across the four home countries.[2] Education researcher David Reynolds claims that policy in Wales is driven by a "producerist" paradigm emphasising collaboration between educational partners. He concludes that performance data do not suggest that Wales has improved more rapidly than England, although there are considerable difficulties in making these kinds of assessments.[3]

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Compulsory Schooling

A child's age on the 1 September determines the point of entry into the relevant stage of education. Education is compulsory beginning with the term following the child's fifth birthday, but may take place at either home or school. Most parents choosing to educate through school-based provision, however, enrol their children in the reception year in September of that school year, with most children thus beginning school at age four or four and a half.

Primary Education

In 2008/09 there were 1,478 primary schools in Wales with 258,314 pupils and 12,343 full-time equivalent (FTE) teachers. The pupil/teacher ratio was 20 and the average class size was 24.4 pupils.[4]

Secondary Education

Pupils in secondary school take part in the compulsory GCSE and the non-compulsory A-level qualifications at age 16 and 18 respectively. Since 2007 the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification has also been available as an option. In 2008/09 there were 223 secondary schools in Wales with 205,421 pupils and 631 FTE teachers. The pupil/teacher ratio was 16.4.[4]

Further Education

Further education (FE) includes full- and part-time learning for people over compulsory school age, excluding higher education.[5] FE and publicly-funded training in Wales is provided by 24 FE institutions and a range of public, private and voluntary sector training providers, such as the Workers' Educational Association. Colleges vary in size and mission, and include general FE, tertiary and specialist institutions, including one Roman Catholic Sixth Form College and a residential adult education college. Many colleges offer leisure learning and training programmes designed to meet the needs of business.[6][7] In 2008/09 there were 236,780 FE students in Wales.[4]

Adult Community Learning

Adult Community learning is a form of adult education or lifelong learning delivered and supported by local authorities in Wales.[8] Programmes can be formal or informal, non-accredited or accredited, and vocational, academic or leisure orientated.[9] In 2008/09 there were 57,170 learners in Community Learning.[4]

Higher Education

Main Building of Cardiff University
St David's building of the University of Wales Lampeter - Wales' oldest University

Students normally enter higher education (HE) from 18 onwards. All undergraduate education is largely state-financed (with Welsh students contributing £1,255), and students are generally entitled to student loans for maintenance. The state does not control syllabi, but it does influence admission procedures and monitors standards through the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.

The typical first degree offered at Welsh universities is the Bachelor's degree, typically taking three years to complete full-time. Some institutions offer an undergraduate Master's degree as a first degree, typically lasting four years. During a first degree students are known as undergraduates. Some universities offer a vocationally-based Foundation degree, typically two years in length.

Within Wales, medical undergraduate education is provided by only Cardiff University, while graduate fast track route training in provided at Swansea University. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of universities with their own degree awarding powers owing to the change in the University of Wales from a single awarding body for most of the Universities in Wales to a confederal structure, along with former institutes gaining university status. Overall there are 11 HE institutions in Wales including one music conservatoire, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff.

In 2008/09 there were 146,465 enrolments at HE institutions in Wales, including 66,645 undergraduates and 23,260 postgraduates. Welsh HE institutions had a total of 8,840 academic staff.[4]

See also

References

External links


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