British School System vs American - How Do They Differ NAIS - New York (2023)

British School System vs American - How Do They Differ NAIS - New York (1)
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  2. British School System vs. American - How Do They Differ?

Although there are many similarities between the British and American educational systems there are some distinct differences. Both systems want to prepare learners not only for colleges and universities around the world, but also to produce highly educated and contributing adults to enter the world and the workforce.

Throughout the United Kingdom, children begin their formal education by the age of 4, many by the age of 3 years. There is a British national curriculum that begins with the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework that provides parents and educators a holistic framework of milestones and benchmarks where children are developmentally. While it is play-based, it also begins formalized schooling and has an academic component. The EYFS emphasizes that each child will develop in their own time, but that this is where the majority of children are at each stage of their development. The EYFS is set up in ageand stagebands that purposefully overlap, and centeron developing all aspects of a young child, both socially and academically.

Typically, in the United States children may attend preschool, but generally this is part-time unless both parents work. Formal schooling is not compulsory until children are 6 years of age. In 2013 New York City decided, and put into law, that any child who is turning 4 in that calendar year is able to attend public (or state run) preschool and that kindergarten is mandatory, however throughout the rest of New York State and the United States this not normally available to all children. While not compulsory until age 6, preschool and kindergarten in New York City are highly encouraged and NYC promises to find a seat for every 4 year old, although it may not be in your neighborhood school. Kindergarten is seen as a right in New York City. Preschools and kindergartens are still offered part-time and tend to be predominantly based on socialization skills.

A notable difference is that in a British preschool, or early years programme, children learn their letter sounds before the letter names. There is a systematic approach to learning all 44 sounds before learning the name of the letters. Throughout the United States, American schools and parents teach the name of the letter first and then the sounds are introduced later. In British schools, mark-making, or early writing, is highly encouraged and a deep level of mathematical understanding, such as all the ways that you can make 5, is focused on at a mastery level instead of a broader understanding and then moving on to higher numbers.

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As children get older and move into elementary school the two systems are very similar in that the teachers offer a broad range of subjects and there are measures put in place to ensure that adequate yearly progress is being made. In the US, many of these measures were put in place with No Child Left Behind and remain in place today. Schools and states use this information to best help shape the educational system and to ensure that all learners are provided with a good educational foundation. In the UK there is end of Key Stage benchmarking where the entire country is tested and reported on, and similar to the US, this information is used to help shape the educational system, except that it is national and externally benchmarked. In general, the US offers a holistic liberal arts approach to education from kindergarten all the way through graduation. In the British educational systemthere is a broad liberal arts approach and, as learners get older, it becomes increasingly specialized. The US curriculum tends to have a national focus while the British curriculum tends to have a broader view. The US often relies heavily on text books while the British curriculum uses a variety of sources and authentic texts.

The US tends to offer more choices in sports and other extracurricular activities, including clubs. In British schools there are also extracurricular activities and sports, but with a more selective offering available.

The calendar often tends to be different between US and British educational systems. Most US schools have federal holidays off here and there but the bigger school breaks tend to be in December, one in the spring time around March or April, and then a long summer break. In the UK schools go for approximately 6 – 8 weeks and then have a week off, a slightly longer break in December and spring and a shorter summer break than their US counterparts. The number of actual school days is approximately the same, just a difference in how the breaks are distributed throughout the year.

Teachers in the US are certified and have a credential for the state in which they teach with some reciprocity in other states, in the UK teachers receive their Qualified Teacher Status and are able to teach anywhere within the UK or in British schools internationally.

When students get into the upper grades in both US and British schools there are other differences. In most cases, the US students continue on with a broad, liberal arts education with some choices that are of particular interest to the learner, but not a concentration in a specific area. In British education learners pick areas they want to concentrate on with the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) or International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) if outside of the United Kingdom. With the GCSE and IGCSE learners choose their subjects and study them for two years. They then take an exam and receive a certificate and have now completed their compulsory education. Some will then go into university while many others will stay in school for another two years and either do the International Baccalaureate’s Diploma Programme (DP) or A Levels and then go off to university. During these years in the US math and science are usually taught as independent and sequential subjects such as Algebra, Geometry, Calculus, etc. and Biology, Chemistry, Physics, etc. while in a British education system they are taught simultaneously. In the US learners’ grades are cumulated together to form a grade point average, GPA, while in British schools the learners receive their marks for completion of the GCSE or IGCSE and if they remain in school for the DP or A Levels.

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Colleges and Universities in the US accept students based on their transcripts, teacher recommendations, extra-curricular activities, and how the learner might contribute to the school community and UK universities will offer provisional placements based on predicted scores.

Based on national average statistics, most children educated in a British style are a year or more ahead of their US counterparts in math and language. The philosophy in Britain is to ensure that each learner does as well as they can and is challenged to progress at a rate over and above the rate an average learner would make in an average school.

Both educational systems offer a high quality education for your child and will assist your child in developing their interests and talents not only for university but also for life.


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What is the difference between American and British school system? ›

In the US system, less emphasis is placed on examinations and students study general subjects until the end of high school, which is Grade 12, the UK equivalent of Year 13. In the United States, most children attend preschool part-time, but state-provided education does not start until Kindergarten (Year 1 in the UK).

What do you know about education system in UK and USA? ›

The similarities in the UK and USA education systems

In both countries, lessons are taught in English and exams are taken in this language too. Education is also provided to all citizens and residents for free. In the UK, funds come from the central government. In the US, money comes mainly from state budgets.

How is the British school system? ›

The education system in the UK is divided into four main parts, primary education, secondary education, further education and higher education. Children in the UK have to legally attend primary and secondary education which runs from about 5 years old until the student is 16 years old.

Is the American education system easier than the British? ›

There's nothing really different between the UK and the US when it comes down to Tests and Schools. The UK have harder tests but a laughable school grading scale, while the US has slightly easier tests but a harsher grading scale.

What is the difference between American and European schools? ›

The main reason for the difference is that high schools in Europe don't have gymnasiums or athletic fields. Actually in Europe, high schools are only a building and everything is in it. In Europe school days are a bit longer than American school days. In the United States school starts around 8am and ends around 2pm.

Why British education is the best? ›

British state schools follow a 'national curriculum'

The National Curriculum also ensures that children receive a good education in a broad range of subjects and specifies the standards children should reach in each subject. It also ensures children in both Primary and Secondary schools are learning the same things.

What is the difference between UK and US school years? ›

In America, we say students are in 7th Grade while British students of the same age are in Year 8. They are labeled a higher number in comparison to the US because we call the first formal year of school Kindergarten in America, which is the equivalent to Year 1 in England.

Why is the UK education system better than the US? ›

UK education system offers you plenty of choices in the courses you can study. While, the degree courses in the US are rigid. The length of a degree course in the UK is less while the courses in the US are much longer. So now you know, studying in UK is better than US.

What is the grade system in America compared to UK? ›

Like the US grading system, the UK also uses letter grades, but not in the same way. Rather than each letter representing 10%, an “A” is anything above 70% in the UK. Every letter that comes after means a decrease of 10%. Another change is there are no GPAs in the UK like 4.0s.

What problems are British schools faced with? ›

Here are the top 5 issues they reported:
  • Funding & budgets. Those who are in Senior Leadership positions are acutely aware of the financial pressures on schools. ...
  • Teacher retention & recruitment. ...
  • Covid catch-up. ...
  • 2023 Exam series. ...
  • Pupil mental health.
6 Sept 2022

What are the 4 British values in schools? ›

Pupils should be made aware of the difference between the law of the land and religious law. Schools should promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs1.

Is British education the best in the world? ›

The UK has scooped the first spot in The 2019 Best Countries for Education, maintaining its rank from last year, according to a study by US News & World Report.
Carnegie Mellon University: Engineering smart and sustainable cities of the future.
Country2019 Ranking2018 Ranking
6 more rows
28 Jan 2019

Who has the best education system in the world? ›

United States

Is American school easy? ›

Forty-four percent of respondents said US students spend "much less" time on schoolwork than at their home countries, while 21% thought they spend "a little less." Asked how difficult their classes are in the US, 66% said they are "much easier" and 24% said "a little easier." The results were similar compared to a ...

What makes American schools different from the rest of the world? ›

The United States puts heavy emphasis on decentralization and delineation between public and private options, while most other countries have private or religious schools that can receive public funds and have nationally-mandated exams, curricula, and teacher pay scales.

What is the difference between American and European style? ›

They are actually terms used to describe two different types of option exercise. European Style Options: can be exercised only at expiration. American Style Options: can be exercised at any time prior to expiration. The majority of CME Group options on futures are European style and can be exercised only at expiration.

What is the difference between international school and normal school? ›

International schools offer an inclusive educational curriculum that allows children to understand different cultures of the world. National schools do not offer any such thing as they focus more on textbooks.

Why do you choose British system? ›

There are many benefits of the British Curriculum. These include the way it prepares children in a broad sense for the future, narrowing subject-areas according to individual interests and ability. This is particularly beneficial to those with specific career goals.

Does Britain have a good education system? ›

The consistently high quality of education in the UK makes it a firm favourite with international students all over the world and helps to keep it at the forefront of global research.

How is the school system in USA? ›

The US system is typically divided into three levels or schools: elementary (Grades K–5), middle (Grades 6–8) and high (Grades 9–12). Some districts vary this, occasionally including Grade 6 in the elementary level and offering a junior high school for Grade 7 and Grade 8, for example.

How is the education system in USA? ›

Education in the United States is provided in public and private schools and by individuals through homeschooling. State governments set overall educational standards, often mandate standardized tests for K–12 public school systems and supervise, usually through a board of regents, state colleges, and universities.

What do British people call school? ›

British Vs. American English: School Terminology
British English (BrE)American English (AmE)
Nursery, playschoolDay care, preschool
Primary schoolElementary school
25 more rows
9 Feb 2013

What grade is 69% in UK? ›

The upper second-class degree (labelled as 2:1) is usually equivalent to 60% - 69%. This UK grading scale recognises students to be quite good but needs improvement in some subjects.

What grade is 70% in UK? ›

UK degree classifications are as follows: First-Class Honours (First or 1st) (70% and above) Upper Second-Class Honours (2:1, 2. i) (60-70%)

Do you think that the British system of education has a negative impact? ›

No, the British Education System had no negative impact on the people of India. Explanation: Due to the British System of Education, English became the link language between people living in different parts of India. The introduction of English strengthened the bond of unity among the Indians.

What were the effects of British education system? ›

The effects of British Education in India can be explained as: Indians were able to grow secularism, modernity, democratic attitudes, rationality together with Nationalistic ideals. Encouragement was received by the local literature and languages. This formed unity in thinking process amongst the educated group.

What are British values kids? ›

the fundamental British values of democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs.

How do we teach British values? ›

Teaching British Values in Early Years

By providing child-initiated learning experiences, where children are given opportunities to decide on the activities they wish to pursue, you can help to foster the concept of individual liberty, whilst providing a framework of rules which nurture tolerance and respect.

What are the 7 British values? ›

Fundamental British Values underpin what it is to be a citizen in a modern and diverse Great Britain valuing our community and celebrating diversity of the UK.
Fundamental British Values
  • Democracy.
  • Rule of Law.
  • Respect & Tolerance.
  • Individual Liberty.

What country is No 1 in education? ›

United States

Who is #1 in the world for education? ›

United Kingdom

Which country is No 1 in world? ›

The overall ranking of Best Countries measure global performance on a variety of metrics. Switzerland is the best country in the world for 2022.

Which country have no exams? ›

The country is none other than Finland, the happiest country in the world. In Finland, there are no mandated standardized tests. There are no rankings, no comparisons, no competitions, apart from one exam at the end of students' senior year in high school.

Which country has the hardest education? ›

Which country has the hardest education system? South Korea, Japan, Singapore are a few countries which have one of the hardest education systems. Which country has the hardest math? The United Kingdom, The United States of America, etc are the countries having one of the best education systems.

Which country has the most stressful education system? ›

Singapore's education system is touted to be one of the most stressful in the world, but it is also one of the best countries that offer quality education worldwide.

Are American schools better than British schools? ›

Based on national average statistics, most children educated in a British style are a year or more ahead of their US counterparts in math and language.

How long is a day in American school? ›

In the U.S., a typical day of high school starts at about 7:30 a.m. and ends around 3:00 p.m., Monday to Friday. Extracurricular activities are typically scheduled in the afternoons and early evenings during the school week; however, some extracurricular activities may also be scheduled on weekends.

What class is a 12 year old in America? ›

Middle school (also called junior high school)

Students attending middle school are around age 11 to 13. It starts with grade 6 and ends with grade 8. Middle school students usually switch from classroom to classroom.

Are UK and US grades the same? ›

Like the US grading system, the UK also uses letter grades, but not in the same way. Rather than each letter representing 10%, an “A” is anything above 70% in the UK. Every letter that comes after means a decrease of 10%. Another change is there are no GPAs in the UK like 4.0s.

Why is UK school better than US? ›

UK education system offers you plenty of choices in the courses you can study. While, the degree courses in the US are rigid. The length of a degree course in the UK is less while the courses in the US are much longer. So now you know, studying in UK is better than US.

What is Year 11 in UK compared to US? ›

One of our most popular searches is What is 11th Grade in the UK? The English equivalent of the American 11th Grade is 'Year 12' which in academic terms is the beginning of Key Stage 5.

What is Year 12 in British school system? ›

Year 12 is the 12th year after Reception. In England, it is one option for the second-to-last year of compulsory education and usually forms part of a sixth form or sixth form college.

What are British grades called? ›

The entire United Kingdom does not use the same grading scheme (grades are referred to as marks (points) in the UK).

Why is 70 an A in the UK? ›

In more simple terms it means that your overall academic score is equal or above to 70% of the total score you could have achieved in your undergraduate degree course. It is like saying your average grade at the undergraduate level was an A.

Why you choose UK rather than USA? ›

The UK boasts an outstanding education, with world-renowned universities such as Oxford and Cambridge ranked in the top 10 globally. Moreover, students in the UK enjoy a wealth of opportunities when it comes to extracurricular activities, from sports clubs to cultural events.

What is Grade 10 called in the UK? ›

Tenth grade or grade 10 (called Year Eleven in England and Wales, and sophomore year in the US) is the tenth year of school post-kindergarten or the tenth year after the first introductory year upon entering compulsory schooling.

Is Year 11 hard in UK? ›

It is hard; it is frustrating; it is full of pressure. But it is also such an amazing time, and as you sit there before it's even started, here are six tips to make sure that Year 11 goes phenomenally well from the morning of the first day back.

What is Grade 11 called in the UK? ›

Eleventh grade, 11th grade, junior year, or grade 11 (called Year 12 in Wales and England and fifth form in Jamaica) is the eleventh, and for some countries final, grade of secondary schools. Students are typically 16–17 years of age, depending on the country and the students' birthdays.

Is American or British curriculum better? ›

The British secondary curriculum mainly emphasizes the GCSE subject exams and the A-Levels. But in the United States school system, the students have more freedom of choice. They pursue the SAT and ACT and the only actual standardized tests students take at a national level.

What are teachers called in England? ›

In many UK schools today, teachers are called by their name, such as Mr Jones or Mrs Jones. But in some, a woman teacher - even one who is married - continues to be referred to as "Miss".

What is 9th grade called in UK? ›

Year / Grade Placement
AgeUK YearsUS/International Grades
14 - 15Year 109th Grade (Freshman)
15 - 16Year 1110th Grade (Sophomore)
16 - 17Year 12 / Lower 6th11th Grade (Junior)
17 - 18Year 13 / Upper 6th12th Grade (Senior)
10 more rows


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