The grammar school is a secondary school taking about 3% of children offering a full theoretical secondary education including foreign languages, and students can choose which subjects and languages they wish to study. In most of them there are food, chemistry and physics laboratories. The majority (80 or 85%) of grammar school students, mainly children of poorer families, leave the school after taking a five-year course. Then they may take the General Certificate of Secondary Education at the ordinary level. The others continue their studies for another two or three years to obtain the General Certificate of Secondary Education at the advanced level, which allows them to enter university.
The comprehensive school combines in one school the courses of all three types of secondary schools; so the pupils can study any subject which is taught in these schools. Their number is growing; there are more than two thousand of them now. They are of different types; all of them preserve some form of streaming, but pupils may be moved from one stream to another. Comprehensive schools take over 90 % of schoolchildren in Great Britain.
The comprehensive school is the most popular type of school, for it provides education for children from all strata.
There are many schools in Britain which are not controlled financially by the state. They are private schools, separate for boys and girls, and the biggest and most important of them are public schools charging high fees and training young people for political, diplomatic, military and religious service.
The doors of Oxford and Cambridge, the best English universities, are open to the public school - leavers.
Other non-state schools which charge fees are independent and preparatory schools. Many of the independent schools belong to the churches. Schools of this type prepare their pupils for public schools.
Some Aspects of British University Life
Of the full-time students now attending English Universities three quarters are men and one quarter women. Nearly half of them are engaged in the study of arts subjects such as history, languages, economics or law, the others are studying pure or applied sciences such as medicine, dentistry, technology, or agriculture.
The University of London, for instance, includes internal and external students, the latter coming to London only to sit for their examinations. Actually most external students at London University are living in London. The colleges in the University of London are essentially teaching institutions, providing instruction chiefly by means of lectures, which are attended mainly by day students. The colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, however, are essentially residential institutions and they mainly use a tutorial method which brings the tutor into close and personal contact with the student. These colleges, being residential, are necessarily far smaller than most of the colleges of the University of London.