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Letter to the Editor

The Prime Minister’s comments yesterday on education spending miss the point, as the secondary education system also needs a major overhaul. Firstly, the system only views the weakest learners as having special (1). The brightest and most (2) students are not encouraged to develop to their full potential. Secondly, there’s too much testing and not enough learning. My fifteen-year-old daughter, for example, has just spent the last month or so (3) for exams. These aren’t even real, important exams, as her GCSEs will be next year. They’re just (4) exams. Is the work she’s been doing really going to make her more (5) about her subjects, or will she forget it all tomorrow? I suspect the latter.

Thirdly, the standard (6) doesn’t give students any (7) in developing practical work-related, living and social skills, or in skills necessary for higher education. How many students entering university have the first idea what the difference is between (8) someone else’s work and making good use of someone else’s ideas? Shouldn’t they have been taught this at school? How many of them are really able to go about (9) – a skill that’s essential at university because there are no teachers to tell you what to do – in an efficient way? Indeed, how many students (10) from university totally unable to spell even simple English words correctly? The system is letting our children down.

1. a) requests b) desires c) needs d) wants

2. a) inattentive b) ignorant c) intensive d) conscientious

3. a) cramming b) lecturing c) reading d) practising

4. a) false b) mock c) fake d) artificial

5. a) knowledgeable b) intellectual c) academic d) intelligent

6. a) timetable b) lecture c) seminar d) curriculum

7. a) lesson b) subject c) tuition d) tutorial

8. a) writing b) going over c) plagiarising d) repeating

9. a) reviewing b) revision c) self-study d) distance learning

10. a) qualify b) graduate c) depart d) exit

10. Put each of the following words/phrases from the box into its correct place in the passage below. Each word may be used only once.

The Idea of Summerhill

anxious parents teaching stay away knows

demonstration their age timetable approved of

experimental scholars truants learn

Summerhill began as an … school. Now it is a … school, for it demonstrates that freedom works. Summerhill is a place in which people who have the innate ability and wish to be scholars will be …; while those who are only fit to sweep the streets will sweep the streets.

Lessons are optional. Children can go to them or … from them – for years if they want to. There is a … – but only for the teachers.

The children have classes usually according to …, but sometimes according to their interests. There are no new methods of teaching, because they don’t consider that … in itself matters very much. They believe that the child who wants to … long division will learn it no matter how it is taught.

Summerhill is possibly the happiest school in the world. There are no … and seldom a case of homesick. Summerhill is a school in which the child knows that he is … . The function of the child is to live his own life – not the life that his … think he should live, nor a life according to the purpose of the educator who thinks he … what is best.

11. Read the letter to the editor in Task 9 again. Express your agreement or disagreement with the ideas set out in the letter in the group. You may make a use of the following tips:

Expressing agreement

Expressing disagreement

I completely agree with

I can see no reason to oppose

You have my whole/full support

Personally I think

I agree entirely

I can’t approve of it

I am not sure you are right about it

I am afraid … is/are wrong

As far as I am able to judge

I would find it difficult to agree/accept

12. Look through the list of punishments administered at school. Say what of them are administered at modern school and what became obsolete. Express your attitude to administering punishment at school.

Corporal punishment, detention (after school or during the dinner hour), lines, exclusion from normal routine, exclusion from privileges (loss of privilege), collection of litter, suspension from school, withdrawal from lessons, setting extra work, putting “on report”, telling the parents.

13. Read Text B over and act out the situations:

    • You are taking an interview with the Head Teacher of Harrow School to write an article about this public school for boys. Ask him about the school life, school running, school uniform and curriculum. You may use these tips: to wear straw hats and bluers; to raise one’s mortar board to the boys as they raise their hat to smb; to change fundamentally the curriculum; to teach craft design technology, Russian, computer sciences; a lot of very modern teaching techniques in all subjects; to punish boys by making them do something back for the community; to clear up litter; to have 770 boys; to educate ‘the whole man’.

    • You are taking an interview with the Head Teacher of Oundle School to write an article how public schools for boys function nowadays. Ask him about the school life, school running, school uniform and curriculum. You may use these tips: to abolish fagging in 1980; pupils whose backgrounds are far from aristocratic; to account for about half the entrance to Oxford and Cambridge; to suggest initiative and enterprise instead of snobbery and prejudice; computer terminals; engineering is the largest single destination for school-leavers.

    • You are working on the project “The role of the 11+ exams in pupils’ destiny” and taking an interview with a representative of LEAs. Ask him/her about the history of this abolished exam, its role in determining the type of school to attend, and its substitute. You may use these tips: to take the Eleven Plus exams at the end of primary school until the 1960s; a substitute for the abolished 11+ exams; intelligence tests; to be often used as a means to determine whether a pupil is suited to the academic rigours of a grammar school education; to have a good grasp of English grammar and a wide vocabulary; to demand mathematical capabilities.

    • You are working on the project “Grammar school advantages” and taking an interview with the Head Teacher of a grammar school. Ask him/her about the school life, school running, school curriculum. You may use these tips: to be selective; to sustain inequality of opportunity; to apply for admission; academic course; to coach for; class-divided and selective system of education; to take a substitute for the abolished 11+ exams; to become the selective tier of the Tripartite Systemof state-funded secondary education from the mid-1940s.

    • You are discussing with your friend what kind of school is the best to get education. You consider that it’s a grammar school, your friend is sure that education got at a private school is excellent. You may use these tips: to pay high fees; broad curriculum; a boarding school; to be selective; to sustain inequality of opportunity; to apply for admission; to prescribe curricula and textbooks; a mixed school; a single-sex school; to have high results in GCE “А” level exams; to be encouraged; to run a school; to provide accommodation.

14. You are a representative of the British Minister of Education analyzing the current state of the English education system. Point out its strengths and those weaknesses the government should work on.

15. You are a participant of the conference “Reforms vs Traditions: Look from within”. Make a report on:

a. modern English schools: for whom they are;

b. British schooling through traditions;

c. reforms in the British education system: changes brought;

d. independent schools: pros and cons;

e. the system of testing: does it need changes?

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