Education In India
Institute & University
 
   
Secondary School

Secondary education for children aged 11 to 16 aims to provide an inclusive, balanced and broadly-based curriculum that promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society; and prepares pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life.

Context
Compulsory education lasts for 11 years, from age five to age 16. Most children move from primary to secondary school at age 11.

Under the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, there are three categories of maintained school: community, foundation and voluntary. All receive funding from the local authority and all have to deliver the National Curriculum. (Independent schools, which receive no grants from public funds and are owned and managed under special trusts, are not obliged to teach the National Curriculum or comply with associated education targets; in practice, most offer a similar curriculum to maintained schools, and enter pupils for the same public examinations.)

In community schools, staff are employed by the local authority (LA). The local authority also owns the school buildings and land, and has responsibility for school admissions.

At a foundation school, the governing body employs school staff and has primary responsibility for admissions. Buildings and land are likely to be owned by the governing body or a charitable foundation.

Voluntary schools (voluntary aided or voluntary controlled) are usually church schools or linked to another other faith group. The governing body employs staff and decides admissions, and school land and buildings are normally owned by the governing body or a charitable foundation.

In January 2004, there were 3409 secondary schools in England, with an average of 975 pupils per school. The average size of classes taught by one teacher in maintained secondary schools was 21.8.

Who works there?

The staffing structure in a secondary school will vary depending on the size of the school and the age group of the children.

The headteacher (or principal) has overall responsibility for the leadership and management of the school. As well as the deputy headteacher, some schools may also appoint one or more assistant headteachers to support the head and deputy with the management of the school.

The school's senior management team may comprise the headteacher, plus deputy head(s) and assistant head(s).

Schools will also have a Key Stage 3 coordinator who is employed to lead and manage the first three years of the secondary school's provision (this role may fall to the deputy head). Other teaching roles in the school may include a head of sixth form, subject leaders or curriculum coordinators, heads of faculty (in larger schools), pastoral managers (or heads of year, or year coordinators).

Non-teaching support staff in the classroom are likely to include teaching assistants and special support assistants, technicians, foreign language assistants, and learning mentors (who support pupils who are underachieving). As well as a range of administrative and clerical staff, most schools will usually have a team of welfare assistants to supervise pupils at lunchtimes, overseen by a midday supervisor.

What do they do?
Local authorities, in partnership with schools, have responsibility for providing and funding education for school-age children within their designated areas.

During the years of statutory schooling (ages 5-16), schools and local authorities must ensure that children receive full-time education that is suited to their age, ability, aptitude and special educational needs. (If a child does not attend school, then the LA must be satisfied that other appropriate provision is being made.)

The two broad aims for the school curriculum are set out in section 351 of the Education Act 1996. This requires all maintained schools to provide a balanced and broadly based curriculum that:

  • Promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society
  • Prepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life

The act also requires the Secretary of State, local authorities, governing bodies and headteachers to take active steps to achieve these requirements.

In doing so, schools must have regard to the wishes of parents and conform to the teaching guidelines laid down in the National Curriculum(first introduced by the Education Reform Act 1988), which is designed to raise teaching standards and give a consistent level of education across all schools. The National Curriculum sets out a full statutory entitlement for all pupils, sets attainment targets for learning and determines how performance will be assessed and reported.

There are four Key Stages to the National Curriculum (now defined by the Education Act 2002). In the secondary phase:

  • Key Stage 3 provides for pupils aged between 11 and 14
  • Key Stage 4 provides for pupils aged 14 to 16

Pupils are assessed by National Curriculum tests at the end of each Key Stage (Key Stage 4 is assessed by levels of achievement acquired at GCSE level). Having completed GCSEs, pupils have a choice whether to continue with further education in school (ie the sixth form) or college, or to undertake employment.

Subjects covered at Key Stages 3 and 4 are English, mathematics, science, design and technology, information and communication technology, history, geography, art and design, music, physical education, modern foreign languages, and citizenship.

All secondary schools have a wide range of other duties, including:

  • Providing information to parents about the educational attainment of their own child and the whole school
  • Maintaining an attendance register, which distinguishes between authorised and unauthorised absences
  • To consult with parents and produce a 'home-school agreement' outlining the school's responsibilities towards pupils, the responsibilities of parents, and what the school expects of pupils
  • Providing health education to all pupils, including education about drug misuse

Equality
Schools have a general duty to ensure that education is provided without sexual or racial discrimination. Schools must pay full regard to pupils' age, gender, ethnic background, aptitude, and any special educational needs or disability.

Schools have a general duty to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial groups. They also have specific duties to prepare and maintain a race equality policy, including having arrangements in place to assess its impact on pupil attainment.

The Education Act 1996 places a duty on schools and local authorities to identify, assess and make provision for children's special educational needs. Those needs should be met within mainstream schools wherever possible. Governing bodies must determine and publish their school's SEN policy; in doing so, they must have regard to the Framework for Inclusion as well as the SEN Code of Practice. Schools must appoint a special educational needs coordinator, responsible for day-to-day operation of the school's SEN policy and for coordinating provision for pupils.

Disability
The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (2001), amended the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 from September 2002, creating important new duties for schools and local authorities. Schools and early years settings must take "reasonable steps" to ensure that disabled pupils are not placed at a substantial disadvantage in relation to the education and other services they provide. This means they must plan ahead, identify barriers to learning and, as far as possible, take action to remove them; schools are also required to draw up accessibility plans.

Child protection
Section 175 of the Education Act 2002 (which came into force in 2004) introduced for the first time an explicit duty on local authorities and governing bodies of maintained schools to make arrangements to ensure that they exercise their functions with a view to safeguarding children. New guidance on safeguarding children was issued to schools and local authorities in September 2004; it requires all schools to appoint a designated senior person for child protection (not necessarily a teacher) to take lead responsibility for child protection issues and liaise with other agencies.

School year
Schools must open for 380 half-day sessions (190 days) in each school year, beginning with the first term to start after July (the autumn term). This is consistent with the 195 days a year required by a teacher's statutory conditions of service (the additional five days are for in-service training). The local authority is responsible for holiday and term dates in the case of community and voluntary controlled schools. Term dates for foundation and voluntary aided schools are decided by governing bodies.

The start of the autumn term in September is a particularly important time in the school year. New pupils arrive in Year 7 and start Key Stage 3, pupils moving into Year 10 start Key Stage 4, and in schools with sixth forms, older pupils begin their post-compulsory courses. Many schools provide access to the school during the summer holiday to help staff prepare.

Schools may hold a Year 7 parents' meeting in October or November to discuss how well new pupils have settled in. Year 11 pupils take school examinations in order to help prepare them for the following summer's public examination, and to help teachers make choices about the appropriate examination entry level.

At the beginning of the spring term in January, pupils in Year 9 (and their parents) choose those subjects that, in addition to the compulsory subjects, will form part of their Key Stage 4 course. These may include vocational courses. In the summer term, pupils in Year 9 take the Key Stage 3 tests, and pupils in Year 11 take the Key Stage 4 GCSE examinations. Optional end-of-year tests are taken in many schools in Years 7, 8 and 10.

Schools usually close for the summer holidays in mid to late July, which marks the end of the school year.

Sixth forms
School sixth forms provide education to young people beyond compulsory school age. They are funded by the Learning and Skills Council (via local authorities). About half of the 3400 maintained secondary schools in England have a sixth form.

After completing Year 11, pupils must decide whether to continue their education at school, at sixth form college, or move into some other form of further education or training. (Pupils do not necessarily have to attend the school sixth form of the school at which they completed Year 11.)

Sixth forms vary in size, generally ranging from 50 to 400 students. The range of courses and subjects on offer will, to some extent, depend on the size of the sixth form, however, many schools have arrangements with other local schools or colleges that means they are able to offer a wider choice of options.

Sixth form students take AS levels in their first year (Year 12); equivalent to half an A level. AS (advanced subsidiary) levels can be turned into A levels by taking the AS2 in Year 13. AS levels enable students to try out more subjects before deciding what subjects they want to specialise in. Students may prefer to start new AS courses in Year 13 or possibly do vocational A levels or a NVQ (many schools now offer a range of other courses, as well as A and AS levels).

Government policy is that the ages 14-19 should be seen as a single coherent phase of education and learning, rather than as two separate phases (a 14-16 phase, followed by a 16-19 phase) as it has historically been seen. This acknowledges the importance of using this phase as a steady progression route to further learning, adult life and employment; it also reflects the reality that many young people are working towards Level 2 qualifications (five good GCSEs or equivalent) after age 16.