I feel like I have to explain what "college" in England is all the time on here, because so many of you are from other parts of the world- mainly America and I'm sick of writing the same explanation over and over again- so I'm writing this MyTake to explain once and for all, and if anyone in the future mistakes college in England, for something it isn't I can just direct them to here.
So firstly, I'd like to explain the schooling system in England.
In England we have 'year groups'. In America you call 'year groups' grade. For example, we'd say Year 8, and you'd say 8th grade. Also our academic year starts in September and ends in July and we get holidays in between.
Schooling System In England:
Kids got to nursery from when they are 3-4-years-old.
Reception - Primary school begins with something we call 'reception'. Kids in reception are 4-5-years-old.
Year 1 - For kids aged 5-6-years-old.
Year 2 - For kids aged 6-7-years-old.
Year 3 - For kids aged 7-8-years-old
Year 4 - For kids aged 8-9-years-old
Year 5 - For kids aged 9-10-years-old
Year 6 - For kids aged 10-11-years old. This is the last year of primary school. Usually, in year 6, kids have exams in Maths and English (and some schools get selected for science exams too mine wasn't though). These exams are called "SATs" (pronouced "sats"). Kids have these exams so the secondary school they move on to, have an indication of the child's academic ability.
Year 7 - For kids aged 11-12-years-old. This is the first year of secondary school, and work wise, it isn't that different to secondary school, and year 7 is just about settling in at secondary school because for some people it is a big transition.
Year 8 - For kids aged 12-13-years-old. When I was in 'year 8' we had 'creative' and 'tech' options. Basically for 'creative' options we had to pick between: art, drama, music or dance (I chose drama) and for 'techology' options we had to pick between: 'tech' (where you'd study textiles, woodwork, and cooking), 'computer science' and 'health and social care' (I chose computer science). But we didn't study those until next year. That was back in my day (2015-2016) though. My little brother is in year 8 right now, and soon he's going to have to pick his GCSE options.
Year 9 - For kids aged 13-14-years-old. In year 9, we studied our creative options and I picked drama so I didn't have to study art or music anymore, and I picked computer science so I didn't have to study 'tech' anymore. Year 9 was the year I picked my GCSE options.
GCSEs by definition: "a qualification in a specific subject typically taken by school students aged 14–16, at a level below A level."
GCSEs have mandatory and optional subjects.
Mandatory subjects are: Maths, English Literature, English Language. For my school, 'Religious Studies' was also mandatory (we weren't even a religious/faith school so I don't know why). And usually combined science which is just two science GCSEs.
My school offered a range of optional subjects: Triple Science (Chemistry, Biology, Physics- 3 science GCSEs instead of two), History, Geography, French, Spanish, Health and Social Care, Computer Science, Food Technology (basically cooking), Technology (textiles, woodwork), Business Studies, Media Studies. -that's what I can remember.
Now based on your ability you could pick either two or three subjects. I was allowed to pick three.
I originally picked:
Triple Science, Computer Science and Media Studies.
But I got told, too much kids picked 'Media Studies' as an option and there weren't enough teachers to teach it, so I had to switch to 'Business Studies'.
In terms of studying GCSEs we began to study our science GCSEs and English Literature GCSE in year 9.
Year 10 - For kids aged 14-15-years-old. This is the year when we started studying all of our GCSE options we picked.
Year 11 - For kids aged 15-16-years-old. This is the year we further study our GCSE subjects and have exams on the subjects we have studied since year 10, in May and June for about a month. My GCSE exams started on the 13th May and my last exam was on the 14th June. We got a week's break in between and I had a total of 19 exams.
And because we finish our exams in June- we get an early summer. Usually the summer holidays start in July and end in September.
College or Sixth Form?
Now, here's where people get confused.
Once your GCSE exams have finished- you can choose to stay on at secondary school until you are 18- we call this 'sixth form'.
Or you can choose to leave secondary school, and go to a college.
At college and sixth form you can study at the exact same level, the environment of the two are just different though, in my eyes, college gives you more independence.
This time last year, I was deciding:
"Do I stay on at secondary school? Should I move to a different sixth form or should I go to college?"
I had three colleges in mind, and two sixth forms. Then I decided that I wouldn't go to one of the college's in mind, because it is about 2 hours away from where I live, then I decided I wouldn't go to the next college I had in mind because it didn't have the exact course I wanted to study, then I decided I wouldn't go to one of the sixth forms I had in mind, because of distance and it didn't have the subjects I wanted.
So it was down to one more college (we'll call it X college) and my secondary school's sixth form. Ideally, I wanted to go to X college because it was just one bus ride away from my house, and it had all the subjects I wanted to study.
Then there was my secondary school sixth form, truth be told, I didn't want to go there. They put me on some random courses I didn't want to do- but it's 5 minutes away from my house.
Luckily, I got to go to X college. And I'm studying three A-Levels there now.
A-levels by defintion - " a qualification in a specific subject typically taken by school students aged 16–18, at a level above GCSE."
College and Sixth Form:
Year 12/1st Year - For kids aged 16-17-years-old. This is where we study the 1st year of our A-Levels and it's currently the year I am in now. And we'll sit AS exams in May and/or June. AS is basically the first year of A-Level.
Year 13/2nd Year - For kids aged 17-18-years-old. This is where we study the 2nd and final year of our A-Levels. Then we will sit our A-Level exams in May-June.
A little more about College in England:
Sixth forms are usually restricted to just 16-18-year-olds. But people of almost any age can attend a college. At my college any aged 14 and above can attend.
In my classes there are kids aged 16-19. There are courses avaliable for adults too- but they don't put the adults with the kids. The adults have courses called 'access' courses.
Saying that, at my college from what I have seen it is mostly young people, aged 16-in their 20s. And if you're over 19, you have to pay to study a course.
After College/Sixth Form?
Ideally, you'd leave college or sixth form at 18-years-old and go to university. As for the duration of university courses, it depends on what you study.
Any last words?
I hope you learned something for this MyTake.
Thanks for reading :) <3