LESSON 8 Exercises to be done before the text 1 Read and remember the words: London, population, financial, business, theatre, cinema, quiet, quite,
empty, called, museums, industrial areas, money, surprised, attractive, ho
tel, tourists, customs, traditions, lawns, contract, contrasts, luxury, feature,
guide, sights, commerce, commercial, busiest, heart, magnificent, official,
castle, prison, palace.
2 Remember the proverbs: 1. My home is my castle. 2. Too much knowledge makes the head
bald. 3. So many men, so many minds. 4. Tell that to the marines.
3 Pay attention to the prefixes in the following words: Uncomfortable, unsuitable, irregular, unimportant, irrational, impos
sible, unreasonable, illogical, illiterate, to coordinate, to cooperate, to dis
comfort, to disconnect, disagreement, disability, international, interdental,
prehistoric, prearranged, to preestablish, to remake, to reload.
Text LONDON London, Britain's colourful capital, is one of the world's most excit
ing cities - full of things to see and do, with world-famous sights, superb
shopping and a range o f excellent entertainment and nightlife second to
none. London has a population of about 9 million people and is the largest
city in Britain. The area of London is 1,580 sq. km (610 sq. miles). London
is the seat o f central government and is one o f the world's leading commer
cial and cultural centres.
One can say London has three main parts - the City, the West End
and the East End. The oldest part of London is the City. It is a very small
part of the capital, only one square mile in area, but that is one o f the busi
est parts of London. Today the City is the country’s financial and business
centre, a collection of offices, banks, the heart o f commerce. The Bank of
England is not only the centre of English trade, but of the world trade as
well. The day population of the City is about
1 million. But at night the
streets are quiet and empty.
But the life never stops in the streets and squares o f the West End,
the other part of London not far from the City. That is the West End that is
famous for splendid shops, concerthalls, theatres, cinemas, picture galler
ies, museums, hotels, beautiful parks and gardens. One can see elegant
people, wealth and luxury, beautifully illuminated shopwindows in Picca
dilly or Regent Street.
Perhaps the best way to get acquainted with the city when you first
arrive is to take a guided bus tour. The Original London Transport Sight
seeing Tour "London Plus", for example, provides open-top double-decker
buses, so that you can be sure of a good view. Tours run at frequent inter
vals throughout the day, offering the opportunity to get on and off as often
as you like at more than thirty different places.
Highlights o f your tour will include famous sights such as "Big Ben"
and the magnificent Houses o f Parliament beside the river Thames; Down
ing Street 10, the official home of the British Prime Minister; and the
Tower of London, (England's first Kremlin style fortress). The Tower is
one of the most famous buildings in England. It was a fortress, a castle, a
palace and a prison many years ago. Now it's a museum. The Tower Bridge
was built at die end of the 19th century to match the medieval style of the
Whitehall is the governmental street. Most British ministries and of
ficial residences are here.
Buckingham Palace is known all over the world to be the home of
Britain's kings and queens. A favoured time to see Buckingham Palace is
ten thirty a.m. when one can see the Changing of the Royal Guard. This is a
real theatrical performance. Londoners love traditions and it is considered
that London has preserved them to a greater extent than any other city in
England. Trafalgar Square is one of the most beautiful places in London
famous for its fountains, hundreds of doves. But the main feature of it is
Nelson's Column with four bronze lions at the base. It is a place of mass
meetings, celebrating holidays.
Piccadilly Circus is considered to be the heart o f the West End. Here
you can see a statue of Eros, the Greek god of Love.
Speaking about places o f interest we must mention St.PauI's Cathe
dral, the British Museum, the National Gallery, Hyde Park.
Oxford Street is the main shopping district with over half a dozen
major department stores, and dozens of smaller retailers offering great bar
gains. Knights bridge is dominated by Harrods, the largest department store
in Europe - no matter what you are searching for, you are bound to find it
Although the East End is a vast area, it has not many places o f inter
est. The Londoners who live here are not very rich and their houses are sel
dom built by great architects. Though unattractive in appearance the East
End is very important in London's life.
If the City is the "money'’ o f London, and the West End is "goods" of
London, then the East End is "hands" of London.
Grammar Exercises 1 Translate into Russian paying attention to the word "that". 1. The English language of the United States and that of Great Brit
ain differ chiefly in vocabulary and pronunciation. 2. The vowel of "path"
was identical with that o f "hat" in the English o f the 16th and 17th centu
ries. 3. In London the fog is sometimes so thick that cars run into one an
other. 4. Sunshine is a welcome visitor for the British people, and it is not
usually from the heat of the sun that they seek shelter, but from wind and
rain and cold. 5. London newspaper that was best known outside Great
Britain was probably the Times. 6. We say that Oxford is old and historical
because it has existed since 912. 7. Colleges join the university "family"
that has more than 9,000 members (in Oxford). 8. The climate o f England
is milder than that of a continental country because it is influenced by a
warm oceanic current - the Gulf Stream. 9. There are a lot of rainy and dull
days in every season, that's why the English people spend most of the time
indoors. 10. It is at the Institute that Peter mastered English. 11. The prop
erty o f conductors is different from that o f insulators. 12. This girl is pret
tier than that one. 13. That we go there is certain. 14. Do it like that man.
15. Do it like the champion. 16. That he didn’t do his best is known to us.
17. That she is proud of him was a surprise to me.
2 Translate into Russian paying attention to the Passive Voice. 1. This garden is looked after by our group. 2. They were shown the
Houses of Parliament. 3. We were told the history o f the Tower. 4. We are
sent to London. 5. We must be asked about it. 6. He was ordered to stop the
experiment. 7. This problem is solved in the second year. 8. This theme
will be dealt with at the next lessons. 9. Paper is written or printed on.
10. These results will be referred to in this article. 11. The equipment is
made use of in our experiment. 12. The report was followed by the discus
sion. 13. The national conference was attended by delegates from all the
groups. 14. This method is followed when the greatest accuracy is desired.
15. Just follow his advice. 16. That experiment has been followed by many
others. 17. We have been stopped by the police. 18. He is being inter
viewed now. 19. We have been listened to with great attention. 20. You are
loved dearly in our family.
3 Find words in this chain: capitalargeastheatrendistrictrafalgarichouseaportower
Oral Practice Remember:__________________________________ _ The expressions of ignorance, lack of certainty: - Sorry (I'm afraid), I don't know.
- No idea.
- 1 wish I knew.
- As far as I know ...
The expressions of surprise and unexpectedness: - Is he? (Are you? Have you?
Have they? Does she? etc.)
- Isn't he? etc.
- Well, it is a surprise.
- Oh, dear!
- It's news to me.
Exercises 1 Express your surprise. I. Mrs. Coleman from the East End gave birth to six children at a
time, two girls and four boys. 2. There is a small street in London where
almost every house is turned into a hotel. This street is called Moscow
Road. 3. A statue of Admiral Nelson is almost 16 feet high. 4. Many Eng-
lish kings and queens are buried in Westminster Abbey. 5. London is a city
which was never planned. 6. There are about 100 theatres in the capital.
7. London was an active centre in Roman times. 8. "The City" has the
greatest concentration of banks in the world. 9. "The City" is the centre of
eurocurrency market. 10. London is among the most multiracial cities in
the world. 11. Attending lectures is optional for “Oxbridge” students.
12. One in ten British couples gets divorced in the first six years. 13. There
are six and a half million dogs and six to eight million cats in Britain.
14. The Great Fire burnt for four days and destroyed 80% of the city.
2 Confess that you are ignorant. 1. How is W. Shakespeare theatre called? 2. What are three main
concert halls of London? (the Royal Festival, the Barbican and the Royal
Albert). 3. What famous pub is in Baker Street? 4. How old is London?
5. When was Byron born? 6. Where is Shakespeare buried? 7. Why are
English policemen called “bobbies”? 8. Who will be the king o f the United
Kingdom? 9. Who is the speaker o f the House of Commons? 10. What is
the biggest art gallery in London?
11. What’s the Prime Minister’s
name? 12. How old is the Queen? 13. Who is the Queen's husband?
14. What calamities did London suffer in 1665 and 1666? 15. What do you
know about the Whispering Gallery?
3 Agree or disagree with the following: 1. London is about 20 centuries old. 2. London is an important
sea port. 3. The Thames doesn't divide London into 2 large parts. 4. There
are many lawns in London parks where people lie or sit about. 5. They say
it is not difficult to make a real English lawn: one should crop it every day
in the course o f one hundred years - and the lawn is ready. 6. Many people
live in the City. 7. Most of the queens and kings of England are crowned in
Westminster Abbey. 8. There are 4 main parts in London. 9. London is the
city o f contrasts. 10. London has no historical places. 11. London is full of
customs and traditions. 12. Englishmen themselves are a mixture o f past
and present, of the old-fashioned and the very modern. 13. The City is
the country’s financial and business centre. 14. The West End is very far
from the City. 15. Open-top double-decker buses provide a good view.
16. Tower is a palace now. 17. Windsor Castle is the Queen’s summer pal
ace. 18. There is no Nelson’s column in Trafalgar Square. 19. In 1966 the
Great Fire of London ended the plague but it also destroyed much of the
city. 20. Londoners believe that London will be rich as long as ravens live
there. 21. A word whispered close to the wall on the side of the Whispering
Gallery can be heard on the other side by a person with his ear close to the
Scottish Appetite One day two friends were sitting in a restaurant. One of them, a
Scotsman, told his friend he would bet ten shillings that he could eat a tur
key and three pounds of sausages. O f course his friend did not believe this.
So the turkey was roasted and put before him on the table. With great as
tonishment his friend watched him eating up the bird. And after some min
utes he also swallowed three pounds of sausages! So he had to pay the
The Scotsman finally drank some glasses of beer and then went
home together with his friend. But when they arrived at the front door of
his house, the Scotsman said to his friend: "Please don't tell my wife that
I've eaten so much."
"Why not?" asked his friend.
"Because she would give me no supper!” the Scotsman answered.
Weather Forecasts Two men were travelling in a very wild part o f America. They saw
no modern houses and no traces of civilization for many days. What they
saw were only a few huts made of wood or tents where Indians lived. One
day they met an old Indian who was a hunter. He was very clever and knew
everything about the forest and the animals living in it and many other
things. He could also speak English quite well.
"Can you tell us what the weather will be like during the next few
days?" one o f the two travellers asked him.
"Oh, yes," he answered. "Rain is coming, and wind. Then there will
be snow for a day or two but then the sunshine will come again and the
weather will be fine."
"These old Indians seem to know more about Nature than we with all
our science," said the man to his friend. Then he turned to the old Indian.
"Tell me," he asked, "how do you know all that?"
The Indian answered: "I heard it over the radio."
Additional Texts 1. Parliament of Great Britain The United Kingdom is a parliamentary monarchy which means
there is a queen or a king whose power is limited. The full royal title of the
Queen is: Her Most Excellent Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace
of God o f the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of
Her Other Realms and Territories Queen, Head o f the Commonwealth, De
fender o f the Faith.
The Parliament consists of two Houses: The House of Commons
having 630 members and the House of Lords with approximately 800
4 Enjoy yourself. 74
That party which obtains the majority o f seats in the House o f Com
mons is called the Government, and the others - the Opposition.
The Prime Minister is usually the leader of the party that has a ma
jority in the House of Commons. All the affairs o f the state are conducted
in the name of the Queen (or King), but it is the Prime Minister who is the
ruler of the country, presiding over the meetings of the Cabinet, which are
always secret. The Cabinet consists of the Prime Minister and ministers.
The Cabinet is the executive organ of government. It is a body o f senior
ministers, most of which are heads o f departments. Each new Prime Minis
ter may make changes in his Cabinet. There are usually about 25 members
of the Cabinet. It is the Cabinet that formulates the policy o f the govern
ment. The name "Cabinet" was given because they met in the monarch's
private study or "cabinet". The Cabinet meets at No. 10 Downing Street,
the official residence of the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister is appointed by the Queen, and all other minis
ters are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Min
People outside Great Britain believe that if a man is elected to sit in
the Parliament, he ought to have a seat. The new House of Commons, built
after the war instead of the bombed one, has, however, seats only for two-
thirds of its 630 members.
Only four members of the House of Commons have reserved seats.
One, of course, is the Speaker. Another is the member who has sat in the
House for the longest unbroken period, the member who is known as "the
Father of the House of Commons”. The other two reserved seats are for the
Prime Minister and the Leader o f the Opposition.
Any member o f the Parliament may introduce a bill to the Parlia
ment. Every bill has three readings at first in the House of Commons. There
is no debate allowed after the first reading. After the second reading there
may be a discussion. The Speaker calls upon different members who are
eager to speak. All speeches are addressed to him, beginning with "Mr.
Speaker, sir”. After the discussion the voting is done, but not by show of
hands. There are two corridors - "Division Lobbies" - at each side of the
House. The one on the right is for the "Yes”, and on the left for the "No".
When voting is announced, the members go out into these Lobbies, to the
right or to the left. As they re-enter the House, they are counted at the door,
one by one - and it may take ten or fifteen minutes before the Speaker reads
out the resulting of the voting.
After the third reading the bill goes before the House of Lords. If the
Lords agree to the bill, it will be placed before the Queen for signature. The
Queen having signed it, it becomes an Act o f the Parliament.
2. Traditions in the British Parliament
The formalities connected with the British Parliament are many and
these relics of bygone days have been deliberately upheld to overawe and
cast a shroud of mist over the members and the public. Aneurin Bevan, MP
has expressed it in this way:
"The atmosphere of Parliament, its physical arrangements, its proce
dure, its semi-ecclesiastical ritual a r e ...... all profoundly intimidating." In
this peculiar feudal atmosphere it is only the most courageous of MP who
really do express the true feelings and grievances of their constituents.
Let us consider a few of the Parliamentary customs:
Parliam entary Day Begins: At this time the voice of a police offi
cer rings through the lobbies: "Hats off strangers!" A small procession then
makes its way past bare-headed policemen and visitors to the Commons
Chamber - the Speaker's Messenger, the Sergeant-at-Arms, the Speaker, the
train of his black gown borne by a train-bearer, and lastly, the Speaker's
Chaplain and Secretary. At the cry of:
"Speaker in chair", echoing through the lobbies the members sit and
the business o f the day begins.
State Opening: this ceremony takes place in the House of Lords,
with a few o f the leading members o f the House of Commons standing
close together at the end o f the chamber opposite to the Throne, technically
'outside' the House of Lords itself. Amid great ceremony the Queen takes
her place on the throne and reads out the Queen's Speech, a document pre
pared by the Government, in which it lays down its programme for the
coming Session. From the ancient coach in which the Monarch arrives to
the glittering robes and precious jewelled crown, the whole ceremony with
its pageantry and glamour diverts attention from the main issues involved.
The Speaker: The Chairman of the House of Commons is called a
Speaker. He is not a Minister and has no voice in the deliberations of Min
isters. The throning and selection of a Speaker for the House of Commons
is another tradition. The first duty of the House of Commons is to elect one
of its members to be the Speaker. He may belong to any party, but on elec
tion becomes non-party. He is elected by common consent of all parties and
is dragged from the floor of the House forcibly by two MPs. He feigns a
great show of resistance. This ceremony dates back to the period before the
"Bourgeois Revolution", when the Speaker, as spokesman of the Com
mons, had the unpleasant task of presenting its demands to the King. His
position was precarious and he was often thrown into the Tower for it, or
lost his head.
In spite o f his title the Speaker speaks veiy little. However, the tradi
tion of "catching the Speaker's eye" before the MP can speak, gives the
Speaker considerable power in limiting criticism through his choice of a
The coach in which he drives to the House on ceremonial occasions
has neither brakes nor springs and is so heavy that it can only be pulled by
two cart horses.
The Speaker's badge of office is the Mace, a decorated version of the
iron club once carried to protect the King's person. This lies on the table in
the Chamber when the House of Commons is officially in session. When
the election of the Speaker is in progress, the Mace (made in 1649, the year
of Charles 1st execution) lies under the table. The Sergeant-at-Arms (in
older times a member of the King's bodyguard), attends the Speaker and
acts as bearer of the Mace. He is attired in black cloth, with knee breeches,
lace bands and ruffles and a silk cocked hat with a rosette, and a sword.
The Speaker wears a horsehair wig, black silk robe, knee breeches
and buckled shoes. When he rises to his feet, any member who is standing
must immediately resume his seat.
Having been chosen, the Speaker is carefully removed from his fel-
low-members. He lives in a Gothic house with sixty rooms inside the Pal
ace of Westminster. He remains strictly aloof from politics, and will even
tually retire with a viscountcy.
The Speaker maintains the rules. He insists that members call each
other 'honourable member', bow to him on entering and leaving, address all
speeches to him. He stops the members using 'grossly insulting' language.
Speakers in the past have forbidden the words "villain, hypocrite, murderer,
insulting dog, swine, cheat, stool-pigeon".
Drawn - Swords: There is a space between the two sides of the
House, with rows of benches on either side. In the House of Commons this
space is approximately the width of two drawn swords. Formerly, the MPs
when very excited, sometimes drew swords and a fight began. A rule was
therefore imposed prohibiting members from crossing the space. Should a
MP put his foot forward he is immediately "called to order" by the Speaker
and shouts o f other MPs and he is obliged to apologize to the House.
3. Political Parties
At present there are two main political parties in England. The Con
servative (or Tory) Party started as Royalists in the 17th century. By the
end o f the 19th century the big landowners, the bankers and the industrial
ists had united. It was the Tories who represented their interests then. They
still do. The Liberals began their activities as anti-Royalists in the 17th cen-
tuiy. In the early 19th century they represented the small industrialists.
They remained strong up to the end of World War I. Lloyd George, their
leader, was the Prime Minister during the war. Then they faded out. Since
then only the Conservative and the Labour Parties have held power.
The Labour Party was established at the beginning o f this century. It
was set up by the trade-unions and various small socialist groups. Despite
its many sincere and courageous fights, it soon came under the influence of
imperialist ideas. It supported Britain's participation in World War I.
Political struggles since World War II have concentrated on peace,
homes and wages. Education and pensions have also been important prob
The Labour Party started an election campaign with big promises -
nationalization of some industries, social reforms and friendship with the
Soviet Union. Having won victory in the 1945 election the Labour Gov
ernment did nationalize railways and coal mines but the nationalization was
carried on in the interests of the former owners. The latter received a com
pensation which greatly exceeded the real cost.
In home policy the Labourists did not keep all their promises too, so
after six years of office they were defeated by the Conservatives.
The two-party system means that, if one is dissatisfied with the Gov
ernment, one votes for the Opposition, and vice versa, though one can say
there isn't much difference between them.
4. The British Press
Most people in Great Britain read the national papers based in Lon
don. All the national dailies are controlled and edited within a short dis
tance of Fleet Street, in the City of London, which is the centre of the
newspaper industry. "Fleet Street" is used as a synonym for the national
newspapers; it is also referred to as "the Street of Ink".
The national dailies are usually classed as either "quality" or "popu
lar". The Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and the Financial
Times are known as "quality" papers. The quality papers aim at presenting
their readers with a full and serious coverage of important national and in
ternational news. Subjects are examined more deeply, giving more infor
mation than the "popular" press. The Guardian, for instance, has about
60,000 words in it, which is about the length of an average novel. The style
is clear-cut and the language straight-forward, free from slang and sensa
tion. All the quality papers use the large, full-scale broadsheet format.
These papers are more expensive than the popular papers.
The popular daily press (Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Mirror,
The Sun and the Daily Star) do not pay a great deal o f attention to impor
tant world events, and when they do the facts are often distorted in an effort
to make the news exciting and entertaining. Generally there is a small
amount of information about a lot of different topics. Much space is de
voted to crime, scandal and sex. These papers are printed on paper half the
normal size for a newspaper, and are commonly called "tabloids", with
front-page news presented in a sensational manner, with banner headlines.
The vocabulary is forceful, abounding in words and phrases appealing to
the emotions. The popular papers use more pictures and cartoons and de
liberately employ slang and up-to-date expressions to give their reports
more vitality. For example, people are "rocked" rather than "surprised": and
in football matches goals are seldom "scored" but instead the ball is
"slammed", "blasted", or "hammered" into the net.
Apart from a classification of style and ways of presentation there is
also the division between political attitudes. Of the four quality morning
papers the Telegraph is strongly Conservative. The popular papers the
Daily Mail and the Daily Express are also Conservative. Both these papers
have become "tabloids" during the past decade (i.e. they are printed on
The Daily Mirror is the only large national paper, which supports the
Labour Party. This paper has always been a tabloid, and much of its space
is taken up by pictures. It was one of the first papers to use strip cartoons,
and its sales were over 5 million.
The Times, founded in 1785 is the oldest of the existing newspapers.
The Times has always been the paper of the "Establishment" and has a
good reputation for serious comment on foreign and home affairs. The let
ters to the Editor which are printed next to the leading articles are influen
tial, and often lead to a broad discussion of the opinions which they ex
The Financial Times is no more simply the commercial "specialist"
paper it used to be and has now become a major quality paper. Its circula
tion although small has grown enormously.
The Guardian (until 1956, it was called the Manchester Guardian) is
liberal in outlook, although it does not represent the official view of the
Liberal Party. It enjoys particular popularity amongst those readers con
nected with the arts.
5. Some Facts from the History of London London, the oldest city of the English speaking peoples, is more than
twenty centuries old. It was first mentioned by the Romans. They called it
Londinium, but the word is probably of Celtic origin meaning "lake for
tress". But why a lake fortress? We know that London stands on the river,
not on the lake. But when there was a rising tide in the sea, the waters of
the Thames covered almost the whole place where the town was standing,
making a great lake. Even now the city needs huge security buildings pro
tecting the city from the floods.
A high hill that was never covered with water became the place
where the first fortress was built. At first it was earthen, but later it was
made of stone. The line where the walls of this fortress were, became the
boundary of the City o f London. The rich City having walls around it
bought many rights from the King o f England. The Londoners had a right
to choose their own judge and Lord Mayor. The election and the ceremony
of Lord Mayor riding through the streets of London is one of the most
beautiful processions. The City of London has every right of a city, and the
Lord Mayor is responsible for the City government. To these days on
ceremonial visits to the City, the Queen halts at Temple Bar to receive the
right of entry from the Lord Mayor. The boundaries of the City are guarded
by the Griffins, the symbols of the City of London.
There were many beautiful buildings in medieval City of London,
but most of them were wooden. When the Great Fire broke out in 1666,
almost the whole- City was scorched by the fire. Not only wooden, but
even stone buildings were burnt down. To commemorate this terrible catas
trophe, the Londoners erected a monument, which is now called simply the
Monument. Its height (61,5 metres) is equal to the distance between the
Monument and the bakery at Pudding Lane where the fire began. London
firemen still wear the uniform reminding of the days of the great fire.
After the fire the City could not be reconstructed, it had to be built
again. A commission of six architects was organized for this business and
Sir Christopher Wren was the most talented of them. The architect drew a
plan which to a great extent determined the look of today's London, al
though it was not realized in every detail. It was forbidden to build wooden
houses in the City of London. The houses in the main streets of London had
to be four-storeyed, in smaller streets - three-storeyed and in lanes and al
leys - two-storeyed. As you see, Fleet Street, famous throughout the world
as the centre of British news services, was one of the major streets of the
city in the seventeenth century.
StPaul's Cathedral was the greatest work of Sir Christopher Wren.
It's the most striking building in the City today and the third largest church
in the whole world. Wren was building this Cathedral for years, he wanted
to build a church that could rival the greatest StPeter in Rome. One can't
imagine London without St.Paul. It stands on a hill and the gold ball and
cross at the top can be seen on a fine day from almost any spot o f London.
St. Paul was built of white stone as well as many other buildings in the City
o f London, but smoke and soot made the stones black, only the columns
and edges washed by the rain remained white. That is how the building got
its peculiar white-and-black graphic look.
6. Education in Britain Education is what survives when
what has been learnt has been forgotten.
The educational system of any country is a reflection of its tradition,
together with the present needs of society.
The British educational system has evolved foremost as a clerical or
private venture without direct state influence. Even though nowadays large
numbers of pupils attend state schools, there is still no consistent central
ized educational system, ensuring equal access to education.
Education is compulsory for all children between the ages of 5 and
16. Over 90 per cent of all school-children attend state schools, where tui
tion and equipment are free.
The state system of education is divided into three stages: primary,
secondary and further education.
At the age of 5 children go to infant schools or departments, at the
age o f 7 they go on to junior schools. For all (or nearly all) children in state
schools secondary education begins at the age of 11. There are 4 types of
state secondary schools in England. 1. Grammar schools 2. Secondary
modem schools 3. Secondary technical schools 4. Comprehensive schools.
Grammar schools provide an academic type o f education up to the
age of 18. A large proportion of university students are educated at these
schools. These schools prepare pupils for the General Certificate examina
tions and for university entrance ones. Secondary modern schools give a
general education, including some practical instruction. Boys are instructed
in metalwork and woodwork and girls in domestic science. Some of the
pupils succeed in passing the Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE),
which indicates satisfactory completion of schooling. The CSE gives an
opportunity for pupils to be examined in skills which are not strictly aca
demic, as well as the normal school subjects.
Secondary technical schools provide an education related to industry,
commerce and agriculture of a general type.
Comprehensive schools were introduced in the late 1950s. These
schools are grammar, secondary modern and technical schools all in one.
They provide education for all children of the appropriate age group of a
district, without any tests of ability or aptitude.
Most of the schools are very large and range in size from 200 to
Many new ideas in education are being tried out at present, and com
prehensive schools vary widely throughout Britain. The type of compre
hensive schools depends on the local education authority. A large number
of local authorities have gone over completely to the comprehensive sys
tem, others are changing. The present system is part of the old, and part of
the new, but there is a growing insistence .that the toleration of a divided
system and all forms of "eleven-plus" selection must be ended. Before 1965
a selective system of secondary education operated throughout England.
Under that system a child of 11 had to take an exam (known as “an 11-
plus”) which consisted of intelligence tests covering linguistic, mathemati
cal and general knowledge and which was to be taken by children in the
last year of primary schooling. The object was to select between academic
and non-academic children. Those who did well in the examination went
on to a grammar school, while those who failed went to a secondary mod
em school or technical college. Many people complained that it was wrong
for a person’s future to be decided at so young an age. The children who
went to “secondary modems” were seen as “failures”.
“Streaming”, i.e. dividing pupils into different groups according to
ability, is practised in many schools. A few Local Education Authorities
still send bright children to one school and slow learners to another (to a
grammar school and a secondary modem school, respectively), but now
that the vast majority of schools are comprehensive (i.e. accept children of
all abilities) the decisions have to be made w ithin the schools. Very few
teachers believe that it is possible to educate children of all abilities to
gether if some are going to study advanced mathematics, for example. On
the other hand, few teachers want to go back to rigid streaming where chil
dren were kept apart, and those at the bottom were always at the bottom.
Rigid streaming is considered reactionary in England and unfair to children
who are denied opportunities for educational advancement because they are
put into categories at an early age. However, it is easier to organise special
help for slower children if they are all together on one group. And clever
children like to work with clever children. So the schools are always facing
The comprehensive school replaces the "separatist" system and
avoids the segregation of children at the age o f 11, into "academic" and
The best comprehensive schools are well-equipped with new prem
ises and a wide range of specialist teachers and teaching aids.
Over 85% of the maintained secondary school population in England
and Wales attend comprehensive schools.
It is becoming fairly common to use the title "High School" for a
When children reach the age o f 14-15, in the 3rd or 4th form, they be
gin to choose their exam subjects (called subject “options”) and work for
two years to prepare for their General Certificate o f Secondary Education
(GCSE) qualifications. The exams are usually taken in the 5th form at the
age of 16, which is a school-leaving age. Russian schoolchildren some
times believe that life in British schools must be wonderful because pupils
decide for themselves what they are going to study. Life is not quite sim
ple! The GCSE must be taken in “core subjects”, plus three, four or five
other subjects (usually chosen in discussion with teachers, from a list). But
there is no “free choice” because of the timetables and demands for a co
herent education. One o f the subjects must be practical, another must be
part o f “social studies” - geography, histoiy, etc. Academic pupils will be
able to choose mostly academic subjects, those who find school work more
difficult can concentrate on practical and technical subjects.
Most exams last for two hours; marks are given for each exam sepa
rately. There is a complicated (and changing) system of marking. Exams
are usually marked out of 100, and then are “converted” into grades from A
to G (grades А, В, C, are considered to be “good” marks).
The school year is divided into three terms. Autumn term: early Sep
tember to mid-December. Spring term: early January to the end of March.
Summer term: end of April to early (mid) July. Schools usually work Mon
days to Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. or 4 p.m.
7. Life at College British Universities There are 46 universities in Britain. Good ‘A’ level results in at least
two subjects are necessary to get a place at one. However, good exam
passes alone are not enough. Universities choose their students after inter
views, and competition for places at university is fierce.
For all British citizens a place at university brings with it a grant
from their Local Education Authority. The grants cover tuition fees and
some of the living expenses. The amount depends of the parent’s income. If
the parents do not earn much money, their children will receive a full grant
which will cover all their expenses.
Free at last Most of 18-19 year-olds in Britain are fairly independent people, and
when the time comes to pick a college they usually choose one as far away
from home as possible! So, many students in northern and Scottish univer
sities come from the south of England and vice versa. It’s very unusual for
university students to live at home. Although parents may be a little sad to
see this happen, they usually approve of the move, and see it as a necessary