Presentation on theme: "The British Education System. Tradition As with other aspects of life in the UK, modern ways are making the education system more fair and less biased."— Presentation transcript:
The British Education System
Tradition As with other aspects of life in the UK, modern ways are making the education system more fair and less biased towards the upper class, but certain traditions remain Historically, children of the upper class were educated at certain so-called “public schools”, although the name is misleading, because they are in fact privately owned and run. Some of these schools still exist, and have histories going back hundreds of years.
Tradition Famous schools like Eton and Winchester are called grammar schools, and boast reputations based on the success of their graduates in the past. These types of schools, where generations of the most rich and powerful in the UK were educated, are typically very expensive to attend, whereas the much more common government run schools are free. A significant number of influential people in the UK went to this type of grammar school. These schools tend to set very high academic standards.
Present System In the current system, most secondary schools in the UK are government run schools which allow any student to attend, regardless of academic aptitude or wealth. These schools are usually not specialised in any particular discipline, and teach a general curriculum. Although the high standards of the elite grammar schools can be a predictor of success, there is nothing stopping a talented student at a normal school from succeeding.
Higher Education As with secondary education, most universities in the UK are overshadowed by the very famous top universities, Oxford and Cambridge. The most influential people in the UK tend to graduate from these universities. Their history and reputation tends to attract the smartest scholars, for instance Stephen Hawking, the famous astrophysicist, attended Oxford, then became a professor at Cambridge. He retired only two weeks ago.
British Foreign Relations
Decline in Power As we talked about in past lectures, the end of WWII was a time of mixed fortunes for the UK. Although as part of the Allied forces the UK had been on the winning side of the war, the effect on the UK economy had been severe. While gaining the political power that came from winning the war, the British Empire was starting to disappear.
Loss of the Empire The UK could no longer afford to keep direct control over its colonies, especially with many of them wanting independence. Gradually, the different colonies returned to native rule. Unlike France and Portugal, the UK chose to let go of most of it’s colonies peacefully, rather than fight with the native people, although with some exceptions.
Loss of the Empire In 1956, the Egyptian government took control of the Suez canal, and the UK decided to intervene militarily. The United States, however, did not support the invasion by the UK, and forced them to withdraw, an embarrassing incident which highlighted the loss of British power. Eventually, only a few small territories were left, and the British Empire was finished.
Residual Power Although most of the direct power of the UK was eventually small compared with countries like the USA, the result of being a permanent member of the UN security council, and an important member of the EU, meant that the UK could still wield some influence. This influence, combined with the historical effects of the Empire, mean that the UK often shows a strong resistance to outside control, such as central EU government and currency.
International Institutions As the territory of the Empire declined, and the UK became no longer powerful enough to act independently, the UK’s relationship with international institutions grew more important. Because of historical reasons related to WWII, the UK holds permanent member status on the UN security council. These countries were all victorious powers in WWII, and hold veto power over security council decisions.
International Institutions (cont’d) The European Union is more to do with economic matters, and started out as the European Economic Community. While supportive of the EU in general, on matters such as currency and government the UK is very independent, as mentioned above. For security and defence purposes, the UK is a key member of NATO.
International Institutions For historical and cultural reasons, the UK is part of the Commonwealth, a group of nations made up of the UK and its former colonies. Although many of the members of the Commonwealth became totally separate from the government of the UK, they remain linked by a common culture. Some of the Commonwealth countries, such as Australia, retain constitutional links to the UK government.
UK and the USA Even after American independence, the UK and the USA retained strong ties, and in recent history the two countries worked together in the two world wars. The wars strengthened the military ties especially, and in the years following the second world war the two countries worked together to prevent the Soviet Union gaining too much power. Nato is central to this partnership, and so the US has a strong military presence in the UK.
UK and the USA Recently, the ties between the UK and the USA were reinforced when the UK joined the USA in the “Coalition of the Willing” to invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein. UK troops were involved in the extended military campaign, although the government suffered politically for the involvement.
UK Military The UK spends a lot on its military relative to its size. It supports a large standing armed forces, and has nuclear weapon capability. Nato is a key aspect of the UK’s military organisation. While the cold war has ended, Nato still provides a balance between Europe and the extensive resources of Russia.
UK Military (cont’d) The UK ended combat operations in Iraq earlier this year, where it supported a strong presence especially around the city of Basra. The UK continues to support a significant force in Afghanistan, where Nato has an official presence.