Let’s Get Set for University!: (The Springschool Experience for Disabled Students)

Let’s Get Set for University!: (The Springschool Experience for Disabled Students)

Helen Smith (Leeds Metropolitan University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-183-2.ch007

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Brief Summary of the Present Education System in England.

Increasing numbers of disabled pupils in England are now educated in a mainstream setting rather than in specialist schools. To better understand the nature of the issues, controversies and problems that surround aspiration and awareness raising work with disabled learners, it is first essential to briefly describe the current school system in England. The same system also operates in Wales.

The school academic year starts on 1st September and runs through to 31st August the following year. Children start school in England in the academic year in which they will reach the age of 5. Typically a child will attend a primary school between the ages of 4 and 11 followed by attendance at a secondary school or college until the age of 16, when compulsory schooling ends. In some areas middle schools exist which usually see the learner transfer from primary school to middle school at the age of 9 and then from middle school to secondary school at the age of 13.

Some schools and colleges also have post 16 provision which is available to a learner until the age of 19 whilst others require the learner to transfer to a specific post 16 provider, known as a Further Education (FE) college or a Sixth Form college.

The compulsory school years are divided into 4 Key Stages of Learning. The first year of school is called the Foundation Year, typically known as Year Reception. Key Stage 1, (Years 1 and 2) takes place between ages 5 and 7; Key Stage 2, (Years 3, 4, 5 and 6) takes place between ages 7 and 11. Key Stage 3 (traditionally Years, 7, 8 and 9) takes place between ages 11 and 14 with Key Stage 4 (traditionally Years 10 and 11) between ages 14 and 16, culminating in assessment in nationally recognised qualifications such as General Certificates in Secondary Education (GCSEs), BTECs (awarded by the Business and Technology Education Council) and Diplomas.

Until recently in England, National Curriculum Assessment tests, more commonly known as SATs took place in maths, English and science at the end of each of the first three Key Stages followed by GCSE examinations (and/or BTECs or Diplomas) in all subject areas at the end of the final year of compulsory schooling. However, tests at the end of Key Stage 3 were abolished in 2008 following issues with marking. In West Yorkshire at least, this end to Key Stage 3 testing has resulted in a significant number of schools condensing Key Stage 3 learning in to 2 years, thus allowing 3 years, Years 9, 10 and 11 to be devoted to Key Stage 4.

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