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A comprehensive school is a public school for
elementary aged
elementary aged
or secondary aged children (aged approximately 11-18) that does not select its intake on the basis of academic achievement or aptitude, in contrast to the
selective school A selective school is a school that admits students on the basis of some sort of selection criteria, usually academic. The term may have different connotations in different systems and is the opposite of a comprehensive school A comprehensive s ...
system where admission is restricted on the basis of selection criteria. The term is commonly used in relation to
England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows ...

England and Wales
, where comprehensive schools were introduced as
state schools State schools (in England, Wales, and New Zealand) or public schools (Scottish English Scottish English ( gd, Beurla Albannach) is the set of varieties of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic lan ...
on an experimental basis in the 1940s and became more widespread from 1965. With the Blair educational reforms from 2003, they may be part of a
local education authority Local education authorities (LEAs) are the local councils in England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The I ...
or be a self governing academy or part of a
multi-academy trustMulti-Academy Trust (MAT) or academy chain is an academy trust that operates more than one Academy (English school), academy school. Academy schools are State-funded schools (England), state-funded schools in England which are directly funded by the ...
. About 90% of British secondary school pupils now attend comprehensive schools (as opposed to
independent school An independent school is independent in its finances and governance. Also known as private schools, non-governmental, privately funded, or non-state schools, they are not administered by local, state or national governments. In British Engli ...
s or the small number of
grammar school A grammar school is one of several different types of school A school is an educational institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most coun ...
s). They correspond broadly to the public school in the United States, Canada and Australia and to the ''Gesamtschule'' in Germany.


Context

Comprehensive schools provide an entitlement curriculum to all children, without selection whether due to financial considerations or attainment. A consequence of that is a wider ranging curriculum, including practical subjects such as design and technology and vocational learning, which were less common or non-existent in
grammar school A grammar school is one of several different types of school A school is an educational institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most coun ...
s. Providing post-16 education cost-effectively becomes more challenging for smaller comprehensive schools, because of the number of courses needed to cover a broader curriculum with comparatively fewer students. This is why schools have tended to get larger and also why many local authorities have organised secondary education into 11–16 schools, with the post-16 provision provided by
sixth form In the education systems of England England is a that is part of the . It shares land borders with to its west and to its north. The lies northwest of England and the to the southwest. England is separated from by the to the east ...
colleges and
further education Further education (often abbreviated FE) in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a s ...
colleges. Comprehensive schools do not select their intake on the basis of academic achievement or aptitude, but there are demographic reasons why the attainment profiles of different schools vary considerably. In addition, government initiatives such as the
City Technology College The BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology in Croydon, London In Education in England, England, a City Technology College (CTC) is a State-funded schools (England), state-funded all-ability secondary school that charges no fees but is indep ...
s and
Specialist schools programme The specialist schools programme was a 1990s UK government initiative which encouraged secondary schools in England to specialise in certain areas of the curriculum to boost achievement. The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust was responsible f ...
s have made the comprehensive ideal less certain. In these schools children could be selected on the basis of curriculum aptitude related to the school's specialism even though the schools do take quotas from each quartile of the attainment range to ensure they were not selective by attainment. A problem with this is whether the quotas should be taken from a normal distribution or from the specific distribution of attainment in the immediate catchment area. In the
selective school A selective school is a school that admits students on the basis of some sort of selection criteria, usually academic. The term may have different connotations in different systems and is the opposite of a comprehensive school A comprehensive s ...
system, which survives in several parts of the United Kingdom, admission is dependent on selection criteria, most commonly a cognitive test or tests. Although comprehensive schools were introduced to England and Wales in 1965, there are 164 selective grammar schools that are still in operation. (though this is a small number compared to approximately 3500 state secondary schools in England). Most comprehensives are
secondary school A secondary school describes an institution that provides secondary education and also usually includes the building where this takes place. Some secondary schools provide both lower secondary education (ages 11 to 14) and upper secondary educat ...
s for children between the ages of 11 to 16, but in a few areas there are comprehensive middle schools, and in some places the secondary level is divided into two, for students aged 11 to 14 and those aged 14 to 18, roughly corresponding to the US
middle school A middle school (also known as intermediate school, junior high school, or lower secondary school) is an educational stage Educational stages are subdivisions of formal learning Formal learning is education normally delivered by trained tea ...
(or junior high school) and high school, respectively. With the advent of key stages in the National Curriculum some local authorities reverted from the Middle School system to 11–16 and 11–18 schools so that the transition between schools corresponds to the end of one key stage and the start of another. In principle, comprehensive schools were conceived as "neighbourhood" schools for all students in a specified catchment area.


History


England and Wales

The first comprehensives were set up after the Second World War. In 1946, for example, Walworth School was one of five 'experimental' comprehensive schools set up by the London County Council Another early comprehensive school was Holyhead County School in
Anglesey Anglesey (; cy, Ynys Môn ), an island off the north-west coast of Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individua ...
in 1949.Comps - here to stay?
Phil Tinline, September 2005, BBC, accessed 12 August 2008.
Coventry opened two Comprehensive Schools in 1954 by combining Grammar Schools and Secondary Modern Schools. These were Caludon Castle and Woodlands. Another early example was Tividale Comprehensive School in
Tipton Tipton is an industrial town in the West Midlands (county), West Midlands in England with a population of around 38,777 at the 2011 UK Census. It is located northwest of Birmingham. Tipton was once one of the most heavily industrialised towns in ...
. The first, purpose-built comprehensive in the North of England was Colne Valley High School near Huddersfield in 1956. The largest expansion of comprehensive schools resulted from a policy decision taken in 1965 by
Anthony Crosland Charles Anthony Raven Crosland (29 August 191819 February 1977), known as Anthony Crosland, Tony Crosland or C. A. R. Crosland, was a British Labour Party politician and author. Crosland served as Member of Parliament for South Gloucestershir ...
, Secretary of State for Education in the 1964–1970
Labour Labour or labor may refer to: * Childbirth Childbirth, also known as labour or delivery, is the ending of pregnancy where one or more babies leaves the uterus by passing through the vagina or by Caesarean section. In 2015, there were about 13 ...
government. The policy decision was implemented by
Circular 10/65Circular 10/65 was a government circular issued in 1965 by the Department of Education and Science (UK), Department of Education and Science (DES) requesting Local Education Authorities (LEAs) in England and Wales to begin converting their secondary ...
, a request to local education authorities to plan for conversion. Students sat the 11+ examination in their last year of primary education and were sent to one of a
secondary modern A secondary modern school is a type of secondary school A secondary school describes an institution that provides secondary education and also usually includes the building where this takes place. Some secondary schools provide both lower se ...
, secondary technical or
grammar school A grammar school is one of several different types of school A school is an educational institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most coun ...
depending on their perceived ability. Secondary technical schools were never widely implemented and for 20 years there was a virtual bipartite system which saw fierce competition for the available grammar school places, which varied between 15% and 25% of total secondary places, depending on location. In 1970
Margaret Thatcher Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher (; 13 October 19258 April 2013), was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either ...

Margaret Thatcher
, the Secretary of State for Education in the new
Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aest ...

Conservative
government, ended the compulsion on local authorities to convert, however, many local authorities were so far down the path that it would have been prohibitively expensive to attempt to reverse the process, and more comprehensive schools were established under Thatcher than any other education secretary. By 1975 the majority of local authorities in England and Wales had abandoned the
11-Plus The eleven-plus (11+) is an Test (assessment), examination administered to some students in England and Northern Ireland in their last year of primary education, which governs admission to grammar schools and other secondary schools which use aca ...
examination and moved to a comprehensive system. Over that 10-year period many
secondary modern A secondary modern school is a type of secondary school A secondary school describes an institution that provides secondary education and also usually includes the building where this takes place. Some secondary schools provide both lower se ...
schools and
grammar schools A grammar school is one of several different types of school A school is an educational institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countr ...
were amalgamated to form large neighbourhood comprehensives, whilst a number of new schools were built to accommodate a growing school population. By the mid-1970s the system had been almost fully implemented, with virtually no secondary modern schools remaining. Many grammar schools were either closed or changed to comprehensive status. Some local authorities, including
Sandwell Sandwell is a metropolitan borough of the West Midlands (county), West Midlands county in England. The borough is named after the Sandwell Priory, and spans a densely populated part of the West Midlands conurbation. According to Sandwell Metropol ...
and
Dudley Dudley is a market town and administrative centre in the county of West MidlandsWest Midlands may refer to: Places * West Midlands (region), a region of the United Kingdom **West Midlands (county), the metropolitan county in the West Midlands r ...
in the
West MidlandsWest Midlands may refer to: Places * West Midlands (region), a region of the United Kingdom **West Midlands (county), the metropolitan county in the West Midlands region ** West Midlands conurbation, the large conurbation in the West Midlands region ...
, changed all of its state secondary schools to comprehensive schools during the 1970s. In 1976 the future Labour prime minister
James Callaghan Leonard James Callaghan, Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, (; 27 March 191226 March 2005) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1976 to 1979 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1976 to 1980. Callaghan is the only person to have held all fo ...

James Callaghan
launched what became known as the 'great debate' on the education system. He went on to list the areas he felt needed closest scrutiny: the case for a core curriculum, the validity and use of informal teaching methods, the role of school inspection and the future of the
examination system A standardized test is a test Test(s), testing, or TEST may refer to: * Test (assessment), an educational assessment intended to measure the respondents' knowledge or other abilities Arts and entertainment * Test (2013 film), ''Test'' (2013 fi ...
. Comprehensive school remains the most common type of state
secondary school A secondary school describes an institution that provides secondary education and also usually includes the building where this takes place. Some secondary schools provide both lower secondary education (ages 11 to 14) and upper secondary educat ...
in England, and the only type in Wales. They account for around 90% of pupils, or 64% if one does not count schools with low-level selection. This figure varies by region. Since the 1988 Education Reform Act, parents have a right to choose which school their child should go to or whether to not send them to school at all and to home educate them instead. The concept of "school choice" introduces the idea of competition between state schools, a fundamental change to the original "neighbourhood comprehensive" model, and is partly intended as a means by which schools that are perceived to be inferior are forced either to improve or, if hardly anyone wants to go there, to close down. Government policy is currently promoting 'specialisation' whereby parents choose a secondary school appropriate for their child's interests and skills. Most initiatives focus on parental choice and information, implementing a pseudo-market incentive to encourage better schools. This logic has underpinned the controversial league tables of school performance.


Scotland

Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
has a very different educational system from England and Wales, though also based on comprehensive education. It has different ages of transfer, different examinations and a different philosophy of choice and provision. All publicly funded primary and secondary schools are comprehensive. The
Scottish Government The Scottish Government ( gd, Riaghaltas na h-Alba, ) is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved government of Scotland. It was formed in 1999 as the Scottish Executive following the 1997 Scottish devolution referendum, 1997 referendum on S ...
has rejected plans for
specialist school A specialist school, also called a specialist college, is a type of secondary school in the United Kingdom that specialises in a certain Academic field, field of curriculum. In England, most specialist schools were originally maintained schoo ...
s as of 2005.


Australia

When the first comprehensive schools appeared in the 1950s, the
Australian Government The Australian Government, also known as the Commonwealth Government, is the national government of Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the ...
started to transition to comprehensive schooling which has been expanding and improving ever since. Prior to the transition into comprehensive schooling systems, primary and secondary state schools regularly measured students' academic merit based on their performance in public examinations. The state of
Western Australia Western Australia (abbreviated as WA) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...

Western Australia
was the first to replace many multilateral school systems, proceeding with
Queensland Queensland ( ) is a state situated in northeastern Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the ...

Queensland
, and finally
South Australia South Australia (abbreviated as SA) is a States and territories of Australia, state in the southern central part of Australia. It covers some of the most arid parts of the country. With a total land area of , it is the fourth-largest of Austral ...

South Australia
and
Victoria Victoria most commonly refers to: * Victoria (Australia), a state of the Commonwealth of Australia * Victoria, British Columbia, provincial capital of British Columbia, Canada * Victoria (mythology), Roman goddess of Victory * Victoria, Seychelles ...
. The Australian education system is organised through three compulsory school types. Students commence their education in Primary school, which runs for seven or eight years, starting at kindergarten through to Year 6 or 7. The next is Secondary school which runs for three or four years, from Year 7 or 8 to Year 10. Finally, Senior Secondary school which runs for two years, completing Years 11 and 12. Each school tier follows a comprehensive curriculum that is categorised into sequences for each Year-level. The Year-level follows specific sequence content and achievement for each subject, which can be interrelated through cross-curricula. In order for students to complete and graduate each tier-level of schooling, they need to complete the subject sequences of content and achievement. Once students have completed Year 12, they may choose to enter into
Tertiary education Tertiary education, also referred to as third-level, third-stage or post-secondary education, is the education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), values, morals, be ...
. The two-tier Tertiary education system in Australia includes both
higher education Higher education is tertiary education Tertiary education, also referred to as third-level, third-stage or post-secondary education, is the education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge ...
(i.e.: University, College, other Institutions) and
vocational education Vocational education is education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), values, morals, beliefs, habits, and personal development. Educational methods include teach ...
and training (VET). Higher education works off of the
Australian Qualifications Framework The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) specifies the standards for educational qualifications in Australia. It is administered nationally by the Australian Government's Department of Industry Department may refer to: * Departmentalizat ...
and prepares Australians for an academic route that may take them into the theoretical and philosophical lenses of their career options.


References


External links


Comprehensive Future – the campaign for fair admissions

Centre for the Support of Comprehensive Schools


Report of 1999 seminar organised by CASE (the Campaign for State Education in the UK).
Campaign for State Education


* ttp://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/comp.shtml ''Comp'' a
BBC Radio 4 BBC Radio 4 is a British national radio station owned and operated by the BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London London is the ca ...

BBC Radio 4
documentary about the creation of comprehensive schools
Discussions in 2002 about the future of comprehensivesMelissa Benn: To abolish the class divide- abolish private schools


{{DEFAULTSORT:Comprehensive School Comprehensive education Philosophy of education Public education in the United Kingdom State schools in the United Kingdom School types