The Ideal Educational System


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Paper in which several European educational systems are compared. The best features were selected in order to draft \'the ideal educational system\'.

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The Ideal Educational System

  1. 1. The ideal educational system Higher education 18 13 17 12 Secondary education Secondary education C O 16 11 grammar school VET M P 15 10 U L 14 9 S O 13 8 R Y 12 7 11 6 E D 10 5 Primary education U C 9 4 A T 8 3 I O 7 2 N 6 1 5 c 4 l Kindergarten a a s g s e Final assignment made by Mara Soekarjo and Patrick Vermeulen 25th of January 2010
  2. 2. FOREWORD Foreword Dear reader, The past year we have been doing research into twelve different European educational systems. The report in front of you is the finalization of our efforts. In September 2008, all the fifth formers in our school were informed about the paper they were supposed to write. The subject of the paper had to be affiliated with our sector (Economy, Management and Society). While mapping our options we came across a field we both found interesting and which concerned the both of us: education. We both thought the educational system in the Netherlands was lacking, so we decided to try to draft “the ideal educational system”, as we think it should be. The freedom in researching this and analyzing something we face everyday was what attracted us the most. For our assignment we asked students from all over Europe to contribute to our assignment. These students who helped us by answering our survey are part of our targeted audience. All of them are active participants of the national school unions in their countries. We sincerely wish this paper will inspire them and will give them ideas to improve the educational system in their country, since our results offer a clear overview of the educational systems used throughout Europe. This paper may be a bit long for a school paper, but our aim was to write a paper that has a lot of practical importance and therefore we had to make it extensive. We first chose our theme and after that we looked for two school subjects supporting this assignment. Owing to the fact that we wish this report to have international meaning, we decided to use English throughout, so everyone in Europe will understand it. English is thereby one of our subjects. The research we have done was primarily focused on the structure and organization of education, so Management & Organization is the second subject we assigned this paper to. We sincerely hope you will enjoy reading our research and that it will inspire you to new educational heights. Mara and Patrick 1
  3. 3. TABLE OF CONTENTS AND INTRODUCTION Table of contents Introduction General introduction to the subject ........................................................................3 Main query Sub queries Modus operandi Commentary Introducing the participating countries ....................................................................5 Austria Bavaria Bosnia and Herzegovina Croatia Denmark Finland France Iceland The Netherlands Norway Slovenia Sweden Analyses Different levels ............................................................................................................11 Introduction Analysis Transition from primary to secondary education ...............................................14 Time spent at school .................................................................................................15 Compulsory education Complementary information Subject clusters ...........................................................................................................16 Grades and tests .........................................................................................................18 Different tests Grading Materials .......................................................................................................................19 Final exams ...................................................................................................................21 Methods of examination Examination subjects Grading-system Preparation for the transition from secondary to higher education ..............25 Discussions and conclusions Different levels ............................................................................................................27 Number of levels Duration of the education Transition from primary to secondary education ...............................................27 Structure of primary and secondary education Decision Time spent at school .................................................................................................28 Subject clusters and specific subjects ....................................................................29 Grades and tests .........................................................................................................29 Materials .......................................................................................................................30 Final exams ...................................................................................................................30 Transition from secondary to higher education ..................................................31 2
  4. 4. TABLE OF CONTENTS AND INTRODUCTION Final conclusion Overall view .................................................................................................................32 Primary education and the transition to secondary education Levels and organisation of secondary education Examination Continuing education on a higher level List of recommendations ..........................................................................................33 Additional chapters Post mortem ................................................................................................................35 Bibliography ..................................................................................................................36 Journal ...........................................................................................................................37 Appendix I. Distribution of tasks ...............................................................................................40 II. Survey .......................................................................................................................41 Accompanying letter The educational system in your country III. Results of the survey ............................................................................................45 Starting at highschool Different levels of education Grades and tests Materials Choice of sector Final exams Preparation for the next step Spending time at school Additional information Introduction General introduction to the subject If you take a look at reports about education, you will find a lot of comparisons regarding the methods of educating and the results accomplished with them. It is on the other hand hard to find a tangible paper that compares different educational systems. That is why we have chosen for this type of investigation, which has proven to be a clear method of showing the weaknesses and strengths of several school systems. Our aim was to draft an educational system which is ideal in our opinion. We investigated the structure of education, not the content; we investigated the organization and the system instead of the methods and curricula. Our research covered a hypothetical situation. We have compared different components of twelve European educational systems and let them inspire us. We drafted our system from scratch, so we did not take for instance the Dutch educational system as point of departure and tried to improve that. We started from scratch and built our ideal system step by step, using the results of our research as inspiration. We concentrated on an ideal structure. Our final conclusion is hypothetical and based on our opinion, which means it perhaps will not be possible to put it into practice, because of several practical disabilities we did not take into account. Because of the set up of our investigation, it would be next to impossible to formulate a hypothesis. The possible results of our research are endlessly varied, so predicting one would be a mistake. 3
  5. 5. TABLE OF CONTENTS AND INTRODUCTION Main query We have chosen to work with the comparative and solution-finding query “What are the features of an ideal educational system?” Sub queries It was not really relevant for our investigation to set up sub queries. We have focused on different fields of research and we have isolated the following topics: 1. Different levels of secondary education 2. Transition from primary to secondary education 3. Time spent at school 4. Subject clusters 5. Grades and tests 6. Materials 7. Final Exams 8. Transition from secondary to higher education For each topic we tried to find an aspect which best meets our requirements for an ideal educational system. Modus operandi Our research was composed of several phases. 1. Making a survey and sending it to our foreign correspondents. 2. Taking inventory of the results. 3. Analysis of the results, gathering background information. 4. Discussion of the analysis and finding our ideal model. 5. Creating an overall picture of our ideal educational system. Commentary We made an extensive survey with questions regarding eight topics. Fortunately, Mara was able to attend two seminars with European school students present, where she found students from twelve different countries willing to participate in our project. All of them answered the survey. We used the results of the survey as a base, which was completed with information from the Internet. You will find the survey attached to this paper. We specifically asked our correspondents about their personal opinion on the different topics. Their opinions were invaluable for our investigation, since they allowed us to take a multilayered perspective at things, instead of just our own. All of our correspondents are international officers of their national school student union, so we can safely assume their answers can be very well trusted. After we analyzed the results objectively, we discussed the different features we discovered. We included the features we liked in our ideal educational system. Finally, we made a list of recommendations and an overall view of our ideal educational system. 4
  6. 6. TABLE OF CONTENTS AND INTRODUCTION Introducing the participating countries Mara found fourteen students from twelve different countries willing to participate in our research. They will be introduced shortly and you will be provided with an impression of every educational system. 1 Austria Austria, or the Republic of Austria, is a country in Central Europe that lies landlocked between several countries including Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic. The majority of Austrians speak German; other recognized languages are Croatian, Hungarian and Slovene. The capitol of Austria is Vienna. Our Austrian correspondent is Katharina Spielmann. Bavaria Since every German federal state can make rules about education autonomously, we have chosen one federal state. Bavaria, officially known as the Free State of Bavaria, is a federal state located in southeast Germany. It is the largest German state, almost taking up twenty of the countries area. The state capital is Munich. Our Bavarian correspondent is Kristina Pröstler. Overviews from 5
  7. 7. TABLE OF CONTENTS AND INTRODUCTION Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country located in southeast Europe. It is almost landlocked, except for a coastline of the Adriatic Sea. Three major ethnic groups reside in Bosnia and Herzegovina: the Bosniaks, the Serbs and the Croats, each with their own language. The capitol of Bosnia and Herzegovina is Sarajevo. Our correspondent from Bosnia and Herzegovina is Darija Sesar. Croatia The Republic of Croatia is a country in southeast Europe. It borders Slovenia, Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Croatian is the official language. The capital of Croatia is Zagreb. Our Croatian correspondent is Domagoj Babić. 6
  8. 8. TABLE OF CONTENTS AND INTRODUCTION Denmark Denmark, or the Kingdom of Denmark, is a country located in Northern Europe. It is a Scandinavian country, southwest of Sweden. The national language is Danish, a language that is remarkable like Swedish and Norwegian. The capitol of Denmark is Copenhagen. Our correspondents from Denmark are Mark Burgdorf Fransen and Gwen Gruner-Widding. Finland Finland, or the Republic of Finland, is a country located in Northern Europe, bordered by Sweden. The mother language is Finnish. The capital is Helsinki. Our Finnish correspondents are Jyri Rasinmäki and Björn Larsén. 7
  9. 9. TABLE OF CONTENTS AND INTRODUCTION France France, or the French Republic, is a country located in West Europe. It is the largest country in the European Union and is one of its oldest members. The official language is French. The capitol is Paris. Our French correspondent is Victor Grezes. Iceland Iceland is a country situated in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the European island countries and is populated by 320.000 people. The official language is Icelandic. The capitol city is Reykjavik. Our Icelandic correspondent is Stefán Rafn Sigurbjörnsson. 8
  10. 10. TABLE OF CONTENTS AND INTRODUCTION The Netherlands The Netherlands is a country situated in North-West Europe. The official language is Dutch and the capital is Amsterdam. The survey was answered by ourselves. Norway Norway, or the Kingdom of Norway, is a North-European country. Being one of the Scandinavian countries, the Norwegian language shares similarities with the other Scandinavian languages. The capital is Oslo. Our correspondent from Norway is Bjørn-Erik Ness, with help from Kristin Hagan. 9
  11. 11. TABLE OF CONTENTS AND INTRODUCTION Slovenia Slovenia, or the Republic of Slovenia, is a country located in Central Europe, bordering Italy, Croatia, Hungary and Austria. The capital of Slovenia is Ljubljana. The three official languages are Slovenian, Italian and Hungarian. The capital is Ljubljana. Our Slovenian correspondent is Klemen Balanč. Sweden Sweden, or the Kingdom of Sweden, is a country located on the Scandinavian Peninsula. It is the third largest country in the EU. The official language is Swedish. The capital is Stockholm. Our Swedish correspondent is Sofia Brändström. 10
  12. 12. ANALYSES Analyses Different levels Introduction Before we can start comparing the different systems, three terms have to be introduced. Looking at the different levels, the more practical types of education can be separated from the more academically oriented types. The collective term for academically oriented types of secondary school is grammar school. A type of education preparing students for jobs based in manual or practical activities is called Vocational Education and Training, abbreviated as VET. VET studies usually come with a period of apprenticeship: students ‘learn the work while doing it’. Students are provided with training on the job, while working for an employer who helps them to learn their trade. In exchange for this training, students give their continuing dedication to the employer for an agreed period, after they have become proficient in their chosen field. Students learn the theoretical part at their vocational school. Analysis Austria In Austria, you have three different levels: - Berufsbildende Schule (BS) is an apprenticeship without a general qualification for university entrance. The education takes two years of school and a practical part to complete. You could call this VET. - Berufsbildende Mittlere und Höhere Schule (BMHS) is a higher school where students learn special skills like accounting or engineering. The education is finished after five years, and students can go to work or to university. - Allgemeinbildende Höhere Schulen (AHS) is general high school, where students obtain the licence to go to university. AHS is a grammar school. This school is specialized on humanistic education. To complete, it takes four years for the lower stage and four years for the upper school. Bavaria In Bavaria, three levels of secondary education are provided: - Hauptschule is about teaching students the basics and preparing them to get a job after finishing school, mostly in the technical sector. The school has a lot of practical subjects. It takes five or six years to complete Hauptschule. Hauptschule can be seen as VET. - Realschule was founded to bridge Hauptschule and Gymnasium. Students learn more theory than on a Hauptschule, though there are more practical and work-orientated subjects than on a Gymnasium. It takes six years to complete Realschule. - Gymnasium is grammar school. A high amount of theoretical study is required. It takes nine years to complete, but changes are planned to implement eight years instead of nine. Students are able to go to university afterwards. Bosnia and Herzegovina There are no specified levels in the educational system of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Secondary education is provided by general and technical secondary schools where studies last for four years. All forms of secondary education include an element of vocational training. Croatia Croatian secondary schools can be divided in two types: gymnasiums and vocational schools. 11
  13. 13. ANALYSES Vocational schools are practical schools, and take about two to three years to complete. Gymnasiums are grammar schools, which take four years. You can choose four different types of courses: - prirodoslovno-matematička gimnazija: a school specialized in maths, informatics and science. - jezična gimnazija: a ‘language-school’ - at least three foreign languages are required. - klasična gimnazija: a school specialized in classical languages (Latin and Ancient Greek). - opća gimnazija: a general grammar school. Denmark After primary school (the compulsory education), students can basically choose between gymnasium and vocational education. Vocational education does not have any levels. It takes three to five years; depending on which profession you want to learn. The gymnasium is divided in four different types: - Højere Forberedelseseksamen (HF), which is a ‘business’ gymnasium. - Højere Handelseksamen (HHX), which is a ‘higher business’ gymnasium. - Højere Teknisk Eksamen (HTX), which is a ‘technical’ gymnasium. - Studentereksamen (STX), which is a general or regular gymnasium. Most people consider HF as the easiest, followed by the higher business. HTX is definitely the toughest, with a lot more lessons a year than any of the other courses. In addition to that, the subjects treat more advanced curricula. HHX, HTX and STX all take 3 years to complete, and HF takes only 2 years to complete. Finland The Finnish secondary school, which is not compulsory, has two levels. Both levels take three years to finish. - ammatillinen oppilaitos, yrkesinstitut is the vocational school. The aim of vocational programs is vocational competence. It is preparing you for a job. - Lukio, gymnasium is the upper secondary school. This is general secondary education that prepares students for the final matriculation examination and to continue their study on university. France French secondary education is built from two types of schools: - Collège, to which can be referred as ‘junior high school’ and lasts for four years. - Lycée, which follows the collège and lasts for three years. Every French student, except for the VET students, follows the same ‘normal’ school system, consisting of collège and lycée. The first year of lycée is the same for everyone. Students specialize in their last two years. The subjects clusters can be found in the sub query ‘subject clusters’. There isn’t any difference in the difficulty of the provided education. The difference is in the content of the subjects. The vocational education takes two years to finish. The education for lycée-students takes three years. Iceland After the compulsory education, students can go to upper secondary school. It’s called gymnasium. The typical course length is four years, but it can vary, especially in vocational courses. Furthermore, there are no levels in Iceland. The Icelandic educational system provides great freedom for the schools, so it’s up to each school to make its education difficult or easy. 12
  14. 14. ANALYSES The Netherlands In the Netherlands, there are three levels of secondary education. 1. VMBO (Voorbereidend Middelbaar BeroepsOnderwijs) is VET where vocational training is combined with a little bit of theoretical education. The VMBO itself is divided into four different levels. A different mix of practical vocational training and theoretical education is combined in each level. This education takes four years and is preparing students for the lowest type of tertiary education. 2. HAVO (Hoger Algemeen Voorgezet Onderwijs) is general education that prepares students for the middle level of tertiary education. Although HAVO is a bit less rigorous as VWO, it can also be qualified as a type of general education. 3. VWO (Voorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs) is general education that prepares students for university: - the highest level of tertiary education. VWO is dived in two levels: Atheneum and Gymnasium. It’s actually the same, except for the fact that studying either Latin or Ancient Greek is compulsory in Gymnasium. Norway The secondary education in Norway can be divided in two parts: lower secondary school (which is compulsory and the same for every student) and upper secondary school (which is optional). In upper secondary school, students have to choose between general education and vocational studies. Studiespesialisering is a general education, where students are prepared to study at university. It takes three years to complete this study. Vocational Education and Training (VET) takes two years in school and two years in apprenticeship. After two years of school or finishing apprenticeship, students can take supplementary studies that qualify for higher education. Slovenia There are several types of secondary schools in Slovenia: public vocational schools, secondary technical schools, vocational colleges, student residential facilities and most common gymnazija (grammar school or gymnasium). Gymnazija is the highest level of secondary education; it gives you a basic knowledge that is required to enter university. It takes four years to complete the gymnazija. Secondary technical schools also take four years to complete. Vocational schools take two to three years to complete. Sweden Secondary school is called gymnasieskola. It is not compulsory, although most students attend it. The secondary school is divided into so called national programs; e.g. students cannot choose between different levels, but can choose between different educational focuses. The programs are Natural Science, Social Science, Health and Care, Technical, Children and leisure, Hotel and restaurant, Industrial, Vehicles, Building, Crafts, Aesthetics, Media, International Baccalaureate, Trade and administration, Energy, Ventilation and sanitation, and Electricity. Most programs are divided into different specializations, so there are many programs to choose between. The programs are divided into two general categories: preparatory and vocational programs. All programs give qualification to enter university and college. Every program takes three years. 13
  15. 15. ANALYSES Transition from primary to secondary education Austria Austrian children enter secondary education aged ten. It is a huge problem that children have to choose secondary school when they are ten years old, since they are too young to make that choice. Parents usually decide what level their children take. Bavaria In Bavaria children enter secondary education when they are ten years old. Grades obtained in the final year of primary school decide what level of secondary education will be followed. It puts a lot of stress on a youngster’s mind, owing to the fact that they are only ten years old when they have to make this choice. The choice of secondary education is heavily influenced by the parents. Bosnia and Herzegovina Primary education in Bosnia and Herzegovina lasts until the age of fifteen, where a system of points is used to decide which level a student will take. These points correspond with the grades obtained in the final year of primary school. Croatia Children start primary school at the age of six, and start their secondary school around the age of fourteen-fifteen. The level of secondary education is decided by the grades obtained in the last two years of primary. This system does not seem to be equalized and therefore the value of these points is negligible. Denmark In Denmark students are around the age of fifteen-sixteen when they start with their secondary education. There is a choice in either Gymnasium or vocational school. The general aptitude of the student is tested and the optimal course is decided based upon the results of this test. Finland Primary education starts in Finland around the age of six. Students can enroll in secondary education at the age of fourteen-fifteen. The level education is decided according to the results of a test made at the end of the final year in primary school. France French students start secondary education aged eleven/twelve, for which no test is required. Fourteen of fifteen years old students are tested to decide if they will continue their education on VET- or lycée-level. This system seems to work well. Iceland Primary education lasts until the age of ten. There used to exist a test to decide the level of education, but nowadays there is no way to decide this. Secondary education ends at the age of fourteen, where one can continue with higher education. Netherlands Dutch students enroll secondary education around the age of twelve. The level of secondary education is decided by the result of a test made in the final year of primary school and the opinion of the primary school teacher. Norway Students start lower secondary education at the age of twelve-thirteen. Fifteen- or sixteen-year- old students start upper secondary education. Education is the same for every student until after lower secondary education. A difference in level of education is issued in higher secondary education. 14
  16. 16. ANALYSES Slovenia Students start secondary school when they are fourteen of fifteen years old. The level of secondary education is decided by the marks gotten during the last two years of primary school plus an exam in Slovenian, maths and a foreign language. Sweden Secondary education starts at the age sixteen-seventeen. What level a student takes is decided by the grades obtained in primary school. Popular schools look for the highest grades; less popular schools have less high standards. Time spent at school Compulsory education Country From To Austria 6 14 Bavaria 6 18 Bosnia and Herzegovina 7 15 Croatia 6/7 14/15 Denmark 6/7 14/15 Finland 7 15 France 6 16 Iceland 6 16 The Netherlands 4/5 18 (or graduation) Norway 6 16 Slovenia 6 15 Sweden 7 16 Complementary information Austria The amount of hours students have to go to school depends on the level and the kind of education they follow. Bavaria Schools in Bavaria finish every day at one ‘o clock. This is actually a problem, because students have not enough time. Students have thirty hours a week. The older they get, the more hours they have to go to school per week. 15
  17. 17. ANALYSES Bosnia and Herzegovina All students have to spend the same number of hours in school: six hours per day. Croatia The amount of hours students have to be at school is regulated by school classes’ plans and national framework curricula. Students have to go to school for 35 weeks. The number of hours they have to spend at school is depending on their age and level of education. Denmark The number of hours students have to attend is depending on which subjects they have chosen. Every subject is designated between 100-250 hours. Twenty percent of the lessons is actually ‘virtual’. This means ‘no teacher present’ and the lesson is ‘over the internet’. The government claims this is to create more independent students. Danish law states that ninety percent of the lessons in each subject must be attended in order to pass the subject. The amount of hours students have to attend differs per level of education. Finland Students have to follow 75 courses. One course takes about 36 to 38 hours, so every student spends around 2700 hours at school. Iceland There are no laws regarding the amount of hours students have to spend at school every year. There is a certain amount of schooldays that the schools have to be operational, which is 170 days per year (=34 weeks per year). Students have to attend around 90% of all classes. The Netherlands Every student has to go to school 1000 hours per year, which is decreased to 700 hours in his or her final year. This amount is regardless of the type of education a student follows. Norway Students have the right to be taught in the number of hours the curriculum for each subject is classed into. A Norwegian law states that the qualification and skills shown by the student are more important than the actual time spent at school. Slovenia A student has to attend to at least eighty percent of the hours required for each subject. It depends on the type of education how many hours they have to attend. Sweden The law guarantees students at least 6665 hours in lower and upper grade schools. Subject clusters Austria In Austria general subjects, German, English and maths, are the same at every school, but the chosen subjects can differ. While grammar school offers many theoretical chosen subjects, BMHS has more practical subjects, e.g. more subjects revolving around learning a profession. Chosen subjects do not actually exist, because every subject at school has to be followed. Subject clusters do not exist. It depends on the type of school what subjects a student has to follow. There does exist a special type of schooling, called Wahlfächer, where you can actually choose subjects. Subjects cannot be quit. 16
  18. 18. ANALYSES Bavaria Bavarian students cannot choose individual subjects, but choose a path. These paths consist of a package of subjects that go well together, similar to the Dutch subject clusters. Paths consist of compulsory main subjects and additional subjects chosen by the student. Certain special paths require certain subjects. Students must also follow special subjects, like Debate or Band classes. The compulsory subjects in Bavaria are German, maths and English. There are countless subjects a student can choose. Languages can be quit in the final two years, because the basics are known by then. Subjects deemed unnecessary can be quit as well. Croatia The Croatian compulsory subjects are the same for every level of secondary education: Croatian, maths and English. Grammar schools have their own set of optional subjects and vocational schools idem. Denmark In Denmark all subjects are the same, regardless of what level a student follow. The vocational and business grammar schools have the same subjects. In technical grammar school a student has to pick one extra subject. Subject clusters exist of a few compulsory subjects completed with chosen subjects. Students have six months to decide if they definitely want to follow their chosen subjects. Finland Every student in Finland follows the same general subjects and has to add three optional subjects to complete his collection of subjects. Schools also have special courses they autonomously offer, which brings a rich variety in the Finnish schooling. Subjects cannot be quit, only when a student is of mixed nationality (both Finnish and Swedish) and he or she wants to quit either Finnish or Swedish. France French students can follow three different subject clusters: 1. Literary: concentration in languages and literature with specialization in modern and classical languages, mathematics and arts 2. Economical: concentration in economics and history/geography with specialization in economics, mathematics and languages. 3. Scientific: concentration in mathematics and science with extra specialization in mathematics. Additional subjects can be physics, chemistry, biology and natural sciences, and technology. Iceland Every student in Iceland follows the same package of general subjects, existing of Icelandic, maths, science, Danish, a third language and sociology. The schools decide the other subjects autonomously. The schools are encouraged by the government to be as creative as possible. A wide variety of subjects are thus offered among schools, such as poison making and horseback riding. Only chosen subjects can be quit. The Netherlands All Dutch programs of secondary education spend the first few years on the same fifteen compulsory subjects. After this basic curriculum, students can slowly decide which subjects they want to follow. The subject cluster you wish to take in the future thus decides the subjects, because every subject cluster has its compulsory subjects. The subjects that are compulsory for every student, regardless of chosen subject cluster, are Dutch, English and maths. The additional subjects are largely decided throughout the choice of subject cluster. 17
  19. 19. ANALYSES Subjects can only be quit if you have the minimum amount of subjects needed. In grammar school, a classical language (Ancient Greek or Latin) is compulsory. Norway Norwegian primary and secondary schools offer the same package of subjects. Qualifications for subjects differ per level of education. The different levels prepare for different goals and therefore decide the difficulty of the subjects. General subjects in Norway are maths, English, Norwegian, physics, social sciences and physical education. The list of chosen subjects is long and every study has subjects unique to them. Subjects can only be quit when they are replaced with another subject. Slovenia In Slovenia the subjects differ per program, but every students has maths and the mother tongue. Subject clusters do not exist in Slovenia; there only is a difference in programs. Sweden Subjects in Sweden are worth points. A minimum of 2500 points should be met. Swedish, English, maths and physical education are worth 100 points; taking a religion or science class is rewarded with 50 points. Points are gained when a course is completed. Some courses are specific to a certain program. Grades and tests Different tests Students in every investigated country have to face smaller and bigger tests. The bigger tests are given at the end of semester, covering a large amount of subject matter. The smaller tests are given throughout the year and can occur unannounced and orally. Grading Austria A 1-5 scale is used to grade the tests; one being the highest and five being the lowest. This system is looked down upon, because there are too few grades, so no real distinction can be made. Bavaria Marks (6-1) are used from class three to class ten. From class eleven on, points (1-15) are used. The marks and points correspond as follows: Mark Points Word equivalent Pass/fail? Mark Points Word equivalent Pass/fail? 15 6 1 14 Very good Passed 4 5 Sufficient Passed 13 4 12 3 2 11 Good Passed 5 2 Insuffient Failed 10 1 9 3 8 Satisfying Passed 6 0 Not enough Failed 7 18
  20. 20. ANALYSES Bosnia and Herzegovina The grading-scale is the exact opposite of the Austrian scale: five is the highest and one the lowest grade. Croatia The grading-system used is five to one; five being the highest and one being the lowest. Denmark The grading is done according to the American system: a certain amount of points qualifies for a certain letter. The pass grades are A=12 B=10 C=7 and the fail-grades are D=4 E=2 F=0 Fx=-3. Finland The grading is 4 to 10, 4 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. Finnish universities have entrance exams, which actually makes the grades useless, since universities only look at the grades obtained in the entrance exams. France The grading is 0-20, 10 being average and 20 being perfect. It is thought that perfection is a state humanly unattainable. Therefore it is impossible to get a 20. Grades have a different value in the different sectors. The grades obtained in maths and sciences weigh heavier in the scientific sector and languages are of more value in the literary sector. Iceland The grading is 0-10, 0 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. Tests are entirely up to the teachers, absolutely decentralized. The Netherlands The grading is 1-10, 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. Norway The grades go from 1 to 6, 1 being the lowest and 6 being the highest. Some subjects have higher demands to get a good grade. Slovenia The grading is 1-5, 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. Sweden A 1 to 4 grading is used. 1 is not approved and 4 is very well approved. The grading system will be changed to the American system (A-F). The four-point-scale offers too little distinction and will therefore be changed. Materials Austria The Austrian system heavily relies on books. Other methods of education, like practical lessons, are not regarded being as useful as books. Parents have to make a small contribution, around 20 Euros); school covers the remaining costs. Bavaria School finances all used materials, which are most of the time books. The preferred method of teaching is listing to the teacher and studying from books, but excursions, experiments and the use of Internet are becoming more and more commonplace. 19
  21. 21. ANALYSES Bosnia and Herzegovina Students from Bosnia and Herzegovina have to pay for their books, which are the most common material used for education. Extra methods of teaching are scarce, but audio is used and in some cases the Internet. Croatia In Croatia students use books. The Croatian government used to pay for the materials, but as a result of the recession the students now have to finance their books themselves. In vocational school practical lessons are abundant, while grammar school favors experiments as extra method of teaching. Denmark Danish schools use books and digital material. A laptop is required in the technical gymnasium. The parents have to pay 350 Euros, and the school finances the extra books. Some subjects like science or music use practical methods, and in the final year of gymnasium you are obliged to follow a workshop. Finland Finland uses books and the Internet. In most cases parents pay, but smaller school sometimes are willing to pay for the material, to make the school more attractive. Teachers have great freedom in shaping the lessons as they see fit. It is encouraged to look ‘beyond the book’. France In France the preferred method of education is the book. The prices for books are set regionally, and the parents have to pay. The educational system in France also uses digital sources and practical lessons. Iceland Icelandic schools use books and in some cases the teachers have the freedom to produce their own material and pus it on the Internet so it is accessible by the students. The Icelandic government used to pay for schoolbooks, but nowadays the students have to pay. Practical and digital lessons are also a part of the education. The Netherlands Dutch students primarily use books, with some supporting Internet-lessons. The schools finance all the materials, by using the 316 euro per student given to them by the government. Norway Norway uses books, with digital lessons. In secondary and upper secondary the students receive a computer for schoolwork. The government pays for the books, but students have to pay an annual fee for the computer. Some subjects do not require books. Practical lessons are seen as a welcome addition to any subjects, so these are encouraged. Slovenia In the educational system of Slovenia books are the preferred method. Books can be hired from specific companies, or bought by the parents. Practical lessons and digital lessons are becoming more popular. Sweden Mostly books are used in Sweden, and a lot of schools have started supplying their student with laptops. The schools pay for the material, and decide on the amount of money spent. Every school had the freedom to decide on the methods itself. 20
  22. 22. ANALYSES Final exams Methods of examination Austria The official Austrian term for the final exams is Matura or Reifeprüfung. The different levels stand for different education. The gymnasium (AHS) focuses on general education. Students can decide if they want to take either three written exams and four oral exams, or vice versa. The written exams are held during one week in May. Oral exams are held a month later. Another way to finish your Matura is to write a Fachbereichsarbeit (FBA), which is a detailed work on a special subject. Making your FBA is a lot of work, but it reduces your number of written exams by one. The Austrian Matura is decentralized, meaning all exams students take are made their own teachers. There exists an examination board, which consists of a candidate’s teacher, the headmaster and one external person (usually someone from another school). Bavaria The term for the final exams in Germany is Abitur, which is often shortened to Abi. The governments of the different federal states produce the final exams. These are written exams, but in some cases students also have the possibility to take oral exams to improve their grade. The final mark consists of two parts: - The mark obtained in the final exams students take in May, made by the government (= centralized) - A summary mark, which consists of marks obtained during the last one or two years, depending on which school the student goes. Bosnia and Herzegovina In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the final year is not very different from the other years. To pass your final year, your marks have to be passes. If students do not have sufficient marks, the teachers of that subject make a special test. Every school makes their own final exams; this makes it a decentralized process. Croatia The students are tested in their final year of secondary school by the National Centre for Evaluation of Education. The final exams are called Matura.These exams are nationwide exams and were introduced in the schoolyear 2009/2010. The exams are made by an independent centre, therefore the Croatian examination system is centralized; individual schools do not make their own exams. Before this system was introduced, schools made examinations for their own students. This worked well, except that the level of the exams was incomparable. Denmark In Denmark, an exam can be written or oral. For some subjects (for instance a language), a written component is compulsory, but other subjects (for instance history) have no written parts. Some subjects have an oral or practical component. This depends on which type of school a student goes to, along with the chosen subjects. An interesting way of examination in Denmark is the 24-hours take-home exam. This way of examination means that students go to school, collect their exam and during the following 24 hours they have to write a paper about their given subject. After 24 hours they have to come back to school and hand it in. This way of examination is a method a lot of universities use. At universities, it is an examination used for tests that are too long to be completed in a single 21
  23. 23. ANALYSES session as an in-class exam. Universities have 24-hour take-home exams, but some exams also have a deadline that is a week or two. You need to pass a total of ten exams spread out over all three years of secondary education. One in the first year, one or two in the second year, and seven or eight in your final year. After all exams are passed, both the examination grade and the yearly grade are put on your diploma. Finland The final exams are called Ylioppilastutkinto or Studentexamen. The Matriculation Examination Board arranges the final exams, so the Finnish exams are centralized exams. Students will also get a diploma with the average of their grades obtained in the last school year. Students will not obtain their place in a higher education based on their grades from their Final Exams - every university has its own entrance exam. Students will get some extra points for an excellent Final Exam-score, but every student must take the test provided by the university. The philosophy behind this is that this way everyone has a ‘second chance’. If, for some reason, you failed your final exams, you will still have the possibility to study at any place you want, as long as achieve acceptable results on your entrance exam. France If you pass your final exam, it’s called passer le bac in French. The official term for the final exams is le baccalauréat. There is a difference between the professional and the technologic baccalauréat: the aim of the professional baccalauréat is to acquire a diploma that allows you to get a job and possibilities for a future career. The technological baccalauréat is made for the students who are unable to follow the ‘general’ sections, but still intend to carry on their studies once they have graduated. The final exams in France are centralized. For graduation, only the marks obtained at the final exams will be used. Universities sometimes look at the results you obtained during your last two years. As you can imagine, this formidable idea came from Napoleon Bonaparte, who was a big fan of centralization. Almost every exam is written (essay-form), but some exams are examined orally (foreign languages) or examined with practical tests. Interesting is that multiple-choice exams do not appear in the baccalauréat. The technical exams do not differ much from the other levels, only a more practical approach is used. 22
  24. 24. ANALYSES Iceland Icelandic students in their final year are tested in the same manner they were during the other years of secondary education. Teachers can make their own tests and decide about how to test their students autonomously. Also because Iceland is a very small country (as stated in the introduction of Iceland: the population only exists of about 320.000 people), they like to keep their system decentralized. There is a very good education basis for teachers and a good monitoring system in Iceland. This way it can be monitored that teachers provide a good level for the final exams. It has been tried in 2005 to install a centralized exam at the end of secondary schools, but it was abolished the same year, because many people were dissatisfied. The Netherlands The final exam (eindexamen) in the Netherlands consists of two parts. In May, all students in their final year take a written exam in all their subjects. The Ministry of Education makes these tests. The weight of the marks achieved in the Central Exams is 50% of the final mark. The other 50% of the mark is an average of all the School Exams that were taken throughout the two final years. These tests are made by the schools and are either written, oral or a project (such as writing a paper); schools can autonomously decide how they want to fill in the School Exams. In addition to the final marks (mark for Central exam and mark for School Exam combined), the mark for your Final Assignment will also appear on your diploma. This is an assignment students have to write in their final year, in which two chosen subject are combined. Students have to do a research into a field of their choice. The assignment you are reading right now is a Final Assignment. Norway If you finish secondary education in Norway, you will get a final grade and an exam grade. The exam grade is the grade you obtained for the big exam you make at the end of your secondary school. At the final grading of each subject, teachers look at the skills of students in the last period of each year. There is no centralized system in Norway; the individual schools are responsible for all examinations. Teachers can decide on if they want to make either oral or written exams. Slovenia In Slovenia, your final exams are (just as in Austria and Croatia) called Matura. It’s an obligatory test and is the main criteria for admission to university or college, since Slovenian universities do not have their own entrance exams. The final exam is a completely centralized affair, because all exams are made by the National Examinations Centre. Thus, these exams are very objective and kind of basic. The exams are both written and oral. Sweden The situation in Sweden is very interesting: they do not have final exams at all. Students do have national tests, which they have to do in grade 5 and 9, but these test are not similar to exams. If you want to apply for university, they look either to your secondary education grades, or you have to do an entrance exam. The system in Sweden is different, because education is only mandatory until the age of 16, secondary education isn’t mandatory in Sweden. It is a choice and therefore final exams do not exist. 23
  25. 25. ANALYSES Examination subjects Country Compulsory Chosen Austria German, maths, foreign language Depending on your specialization Bavaria German, maths, Depending on your specialization/school Croatia Croatian, maths, foreign language Everything you want, as much as you want. Denmark Written Danish It’s like a lottery every year: if your subject is drawn, you have to do the exam. Finland Mother tongue (Finnish or Swedish) Maths, foreign language, second domestic language, one other subject France Subjects linked to your sector Iceland All general and all chosen subjects are compulsory in your exams. Netherlands Dutch, English, maths Depending on your chosen sector. Norway Norwegian Subjects where you have to be chosen Slovenia Slovene, maths, foreign language You can choose yourself As you can see the mother tongue, math and one foreign language are the compulsory subjects for the final exams in the majority of countries. Every exam consists of compulsory and elective subjects, although the amount of subjects differs. Grading-system Austria Students’ teachers check the written exams and a principal or a teacher from another school rechecks them. Oral exams are graded by a committee of teachers, the principal of the school and ‘the president of the Matura’. Thus, grades in Austria are given thoroughly discussed. Bavaria The student’s teachers grade the exams with help of the guidelines made by the ministry of Education of the regarding federal. The final exams are checked and graded internally, but with guidelines issued by an external organization. Bosnia and Herzegovina The teachers of the student’s school decide on the grades of the exams. The final exams are graded internally. Croatia The exams are graded by the same organization that makes the exams: the National Centre for Evaluation of Education. So, all exams are checked and graded externally. Denmark An external censor and the teacher decide all grades. They both give the student the grade they think he or she deserves. They will have to discuss and reach consensus about the final grade. So, this is a combination of internally and externally grading. Finland The exams are checked by official workers of the Matriculation Examination Board. Thus, the exams in Finland are checked externally. The tests are graded according to a normal distribution (see illustration on the next page) into seven verbal grades with Latin names: Improbatur (I), Approbatur (A), Lubenter Approbatur (L), Cum Laude Approbatur (C), Magna Cum Laude Approbatur (M), Eximia Cum Laude Approbatur (E) and Laudatur (L); L being the best you can get, A being required to pass the test. 24
  26. 26. ANALYSES ! France The papers are sent anonymously to a national centre where they are corrected. The French final exams are graded externally. Iceland All Icelandic secondary schools can decide autonomously about the shape and design of the examination. Therefore, they can internally grade the exams themselves. The Netherlands The School Exams are checked internally by the teachers who made the exams. The government makes guidelines to check the Central Exams. The student’s teacher (First Corrector) checks the exam, which is later rechecked by a teacher from another school (Second Corrector). If they disagree, they have to meet and discuss to reach consensus. So, it is a combination of internal and external grading. Norway Anonymous teachers from other parts of the country grade the exams in Norway. So, the exams in Norway are graded externally. Slovenia The Matura-exams are graded by teachers from the National Examinations Centre. These teachers get the exams coded, so the teachers do not know whose exam they are grading. The exams are graded externally. Preparation for the transition from secondary to higher education Austria The schools in Austria do not have any real preparation. Students have to decide autonomously which study they want to apply for. Visiting universities is possible, but has to be arranged by the student. Bosnia and Herzegovina Universities make brochures to show what they offer, but secondary schools do not organize any formal preparation. Students have the possibility to talk to counselors, which is informal. Croatia Croatian secondary schools offer some preparation, which starts a year before students have to choose their university education. Counselors are available to talk to. Denmark The preparation starts the first year of gymnasium. Students must make ‘future plans’ for five years. Although info-days with education-fairs are organized and guidance by counseling is offered, students must actively search for information. Students can visit open-days and can drop-in and follow a lecture at universities. Finland Finnish schools have a subject called student guiding, where further studies are discussed. Universities also visit schools to give information. The majority of preparation is done by school and starts the last year of secondary school. 25
  27. 27. ANALYSES Iceland There is no formal preparation in Iceland. If you want to prepare, you have to do it yourself. Universities regularly give study tours. The Netherlands Students are prepared during the final years of secondary education. Certain studies at university require certain subjects followed on secondary school and therefore the preparation starts relatively early. The guidance at school is however not always arranged properly, so students have to do a lot of preparation themselves. Unfortunately, many students are dropping out in their first year at university, because they have made the wrong decision. Norway Students in Norway are offered counseling service. They can visit universities and follow a lecture. Preparation starts the last two years of secondary school. The preparation is sufficient, but many students drop out at their first year of study. Many of them have made the wrong decision and are unmotivated. Slovenia Slovenian students can visit information days at universities. Universities have two information days per year. Sweden All Swedish schools have ‘professional counselors’ to guide the students through the process of choosing their further studies. 26
  28. 28. DISCUSSIONS AND CONCLUSIONS Discussions and conclusions Different levels Number of levels Secondary education in the majority of the countries has a clear division between vocational schools and grammar schools. Some countries like Austria, Bavaria and the Netherlands even have a level in-between, allowing for more diversity and options. Croatia and Denmark have different types of grammar school (business and technical grammar school.) The system in Sweden is one-of-a-kind, for they have no different levels, but seventeen different programs. We find this a very interesting way of secondary schooling, but we favor a clear division in levels. We think students can develop at best when they are offered an education which also suits them according to their intellectual abilities, not only according to their interests. We think it is positive that students can choose between vocational and grammar school, e.g. choose between practical and theoretical education. To pick from a large variety of secondary schooling is a good thing, because that way students can pick a course that suits them best. We do think a change should be made in the mixture of theoretical and practical education. Vocational schools should offer a bit more theory, where grammar schools should pay more attention to practical approaches. Students will profit more when they are offered a better mix of teaching. We also think apprenticeship should be compulsory in vocational education. Apprenticeship offers experience and offers students more understandability about the real content of the job. Duration of the education The number of years a student has to spend at school differs per country. In Denmark the HF gymnasium takes two years, while the gymnasium in Bavaria takes nine years. VET takes fewer years to compete than grammar schools in every country. The structure of primary and secondary school we would like to introduce will be very different from the existing structures. Lengthening primary school will allow us to cut basic education from secondary school, which can be shortened to three (VET) or four (grammar school) years. The main causes and arguments for this measure can be found in the topic ‘primary to secondary education’. Transition from primary to secondary education Structure of primary and secondary education A clear division can be made based on the age when compulsory education starts. Primary school in Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina starts at age 6-7 and lasts till age 14-15. Every student follows the same education until this age, regardless of intelligence or general aptitude. Norwegian education is split into primary education, lower secondary education and upper secondary education. Primary and lower secondary education focus on the development of basic knowledge and are the same for every student. These systems inspired us to develop our structure of primary and secondary school. We agree with the mentioned countries that the main goal of primary education should be to provide students with basic education. ‘Our’ primary school (and also compulsory education) will start when students are six years old. Education should be compulsory until after finishing secondary education. This means compulsory education will not be linked to a fixed age. 27
  29. 29. DISCUSSIONS AND CONCLUSIONS Primary school will offer students a basic curriculum. The main practice of basic competences will be cut from secondary education, which should therefore take three (VET) or four (grammar schools) years. Primary education should be lengthened in order to complete the basic curriculum properly and should last from grade one to grade nine, from age six to age fifteen. Secondary school will be primarily about specialization. By specialization we mean the possibility for students to follow lessons that they have chosen themselves. A social sciences oriented student can drop subjects like biography and chemistry, while a science oriented student can stop following subjects like geography and history. Every student will be offered an education perfectly suiting his or her interests. We agree basic subjects as the mother tongue, English and maths are significantly important and therefore we do think they should be rehearsed in secondary school. Continuing education at university will lead to an academically oriented knowledge. This measure is based on three arguments, linked to the problems we found during our research: 1. Basic knowledge versus specialization Treating the majority of the basic curriculum in primary school allows us to cut a lot of time spent at secondary school wasted by basic teaching. Every student will have the same amount of basic knowledge. Because secondary school will be dominated by specialization, students get taught using a more in-depth method. 2. Social development Students will spend more time together in class with students of different intellectual and social abilities/competences. This will result in more developed social skills, since the students will have to deal with a lot more ‘different people’ and the social estrangement with people from different levels and backgrounds will decrease. 3. Choice of students versus choice of parents Correspondents from several countries classified the fact that twelve-year-old students are not capable of deciding which secondary school they should take, as a problem. Students are too young and starting secondary school at such an early age puts too much stress on a youngster. Lengthening primary school will allow students to develop a more clear view about what they really want to do, mapping the strengths and weaknesses. The choice of secondary school will be theirs to make instead of their parents’. Decision Sweden uses the grades gotten in the final year of primary school to decide what level of secondary school students should attend. Danish students on the other hand have to make a test. We think a marriage of this would work. The ‘advice’ will be based on both the final test and the grades obtained in the final year. In addition to this objective measure, we think the recommendation of the primary school teacher should also be taken into account. A test can examine the intellectual abilities; teachers have personal experience with the youngsters and have therefore a clear image of the student. If students somehow fail to make their test according to their aptitude, they can always be ‘saved’ by their final-year teacher. Nevertheless the final-year teacher’s vote should never be prevailing. Time spent at school If one was to take a look at the ages children start secondary education, the average age is six years. In our opinion six years is a good age to start primary school, as stated in the sub query primary to secondary education. Kindergarten should not be compulsory, but should be offered. Primary education is compulsory in every country. However, there is a difference in the duration of it. Norwegian primary school lasts until ninth grade, so students are sixteen when finishing compulsory education. Dutch education is compulsory until students are eighteen years old or when they have graduated. 28
  30. 30. DISCUSSIONS AND CONCLUSIONS We think offering every child a proper education is of the greatest importance. Education should be made compulsory until after graduation secondary school. This will protect children and make sure that they have reached a sufficient level of knowledge when they start to work. We therefore also think compulsory education should depend on whether a student finishes his or her education instead of reaching a certain age. The actual time a student spends at his or her secondary school, should be linked to the subjects the student is following. In order to assure proper lessons, a set quantity of hours should be met, according to subject. Subject clusters and specific subjects Every country has got a certain amount of compulsory subjects. Usually these are the mother language, English and maths. We agree with these subjects and will include them in our model, since they are basic skills and are an absolute requirement for continuation of secondary education. Since we think the focal point in secondary education should specialization, these compulsory subjects should be seen as an addition to your chosen subjects. The compulsory subjects should be rehearsed instead of mainly practiced, as are the chosen subjects. This basic curriculum provided at primary school has to include, alongside of the basic subjects, subjects like social studies, physical education and an introduction to science. This way, even if you do not choose for a scientific course, a student will still have a basic understanding of scientific fields. We offer students a more in-depth curriculum with this measure. A clear system is used in France consisting of three subject clusters: literary, economical and scientific. This is something that we favor for its distinction and clarity. Specific subjects are compulsory for specific subject clusters; the rest can be entirely up to the student. We want to allow them as much freedom as possible. In Denmark a ‘trying-out system’ is used. Students ‘try out’ their temporary subject cluster and chosen subjects the first six months of secondary school. This way the students can easily and freely decide what subjects they really wish to follow. We are very enthusiastic about this method and we therefore want to include this in our model. Since students start secondary school aged fourteen/fifteen and the education takes only three or four years, students have to announce which sector they want to take when they register. After six months, their choice will be finalized. Finally we want to incorporate the system based on points used in Sweden in our system. Each subject requires a certain amount of points to pass the subject. By participating with projects, tests, excursions and other activities points are acquired. Students will be motivated to actively participate in both lessons and extracurricular activities. Grades and tests What first caught our eye was that every country has both small and big tests. The smaller tests usually consist of oral testing and unannounced tests, while the bigger tests are usually at the end of a semester and are always properly announced. We will include this system in our model. A curriculum has to be completed in the end. This means big tests are required. We also agree with unannounced small tests, since they keep students sharp and force students to stay on course. The grading is varied. The Netherlands and Iceland use the 1-10 system, while France uses a system from 0 to 20 and in Croatia a 1-5 scale is used. We think the system used in Iceland and the Netherlands works best. The scale is large enough to give a good perspective and a clear distinction can be made. We think the French system is too vague and a five-point system used in Croatia cannot give good insights in the distinctions of quality. 29
  31. 31. DISCUSSIONS AND CONCLUSIONS Materials There is not much to discuss about our research on this subject. Books are used throughout Europe. It is noteworthy that Swedish and Norwegian schools provide students with a personal laptop. We think a personal laptop is wonderful: schoolwork can be done anytime and everywhere and can be adjusted to modern methods of presenting and studying. We do think books are sufficient sources for education, but they are a bit boring for modern students. Lastly, we think that materials should be as diverse as possible, so aside from books, we think that practical lessons, excursions, experiments, group projects should be encouraged. A theory-only system is flawed, because there is no way to test the knowledge in a practical situation. Final exams Again, there is a very clear division: the exams in half of the participating countries are centralized and the other half has got decentralized final exams. Comparing the systems, we think a centralized exam has got the most advantages. The first argument is that centralized exams assure that graduates all make an exam of the same level. A difference in difficulty of different schools is eliminated because of the centralization. The second reason is that in this case entrance exams for universities are not needed anymore. A student proves that he or she is smart enough for university when passing the final exams. An entrance requirement can for instance contain a minimal mark obtained in the final exams. Therefore the final exams in our ideal system will be centralized. Schools should examine their students autonomously during their school years, but graduation should only be depending on the marks obtained in the final exams. We do not think a final exam should be one big test at the end of a student’s school career. The final exams should contain multiple tests, spread out over the final year of secondary school. This way the workload is also spread. Students can for instance have four tests belonging to their ‘English final exam’: one listing-test, one 24-hour exam (as seen in Denmark), one reading-test and one speaking-exam. The whole final year at secondary school will be dominated completely by final exams. Completely centralized and objective final exams also mean that a National Centre for Evaluation of Education (as seen in Croatia) should be established. A certain commission should be responsible for the constructing of the final exams and the grading. This kind of external grading assures that the exams are graded objectively. Looking at the subjects that will be examined: every student should take final exams of at least seven subjects. Three of those are compulsory for everyone: the mother tongue, English and mathematics. These subjects actually belong to the ‘basic education’ also provided in primary education. Since these subjects are so important, they will be rehearsed in secondary school as well. To make sure students leave secondary school with sufficient skills in these important subjects, they will be tested in the form of a final exam. The other four subjects you can choose yourself. 30
  32. 32. DISCUSSIONS AND CONCLUSIONS Transition from secondary to higher education The preparations for the transition in all countries we compared have one thing in common: it seems to be insufficient everywhere. Countries either do not have a formal preparation (which results in students having to prepare for themselves), or the preparation provided by school is not working (which also results in students having to prepare themselves). Universities have info-days and in some countries you can even drop-in and follow a lecture in. Still, the fact remains that lots of students dropout of their study after the first year. We think a proper preparation, which should be done by the school, is the solution. We do think that the info-days and drop-in-lessons are a great way of introducing students to the study. Preparation should already start at the first year secondary education. In the final year of secondary school, when students are supposed to have a clear view of their interests, they can visit universities and focus on what kind of higher education they want to choose. 31
  33. 33. FINAL CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS Final conclusion Overall view The different features of our ideal educational system have been discussed in the eight sub conclusions corresponding with our eight topics. Some new measures cover multiple areas and were therefore discussed in all of the concerning sub conclusions. This final conclusion will provide a clear overview of our ideal system; extensive arguments and cases for specific measures can be found in the eight sub conclusions. A list of tangible recommendations can also be found in this final conclusion. Primary education and the transition to secondary education Children will start primary school aged six. Parents can decide to send their children to kindergarten, Higher education where they will learn while playing. Kindergarten should be seen as an optional and complementary preparation for primary school. Primary education will provide students with a solid 18 13 basis of knowledge. This basic curriculum will be 17 12 Secondary education Secondary education C O completed in nine years, since primary education 16 11 grammar school VET M P 15 10 U will last from grade one to grade nine. The basic 14 9 L S curriculum will contain the basic subjects alongside 13 8 O R of special subjects like social studies, physical 12 7 Y education and an introduction to sciences. 11 6 E D 10 5 Primary education U C Children will be approximately fifteen years old 9 4 A T when they decide to which secondary school they 8 3 I O will go. The level of their secondary school is 7 2 N 6 1 decided based the grades obtained and a final test 5 c made in their final year of primary school. Their 4 l Kindergarten a teacher can recommend a level of secondary a s school, but the final choice relies in the hands of g s e children themselves. Levels and organisation of secondary education There will be a clear division between vocational education and grammar schools. Vocational education will be a mainly practically, but will also contain a bit of essential theory. Apprenticeship is compulsory. Vocational education will last three years. Grammar schools will offer a theoretical education, which is completed with several practical supplements. Grammar school will last four years. Secondary education will be mainly about specialization and therefore students will choose a subject cluster when entering secondary education. These three subject clusters, literary, economical and scientific, will exist of several subjects that fit that theme. The first six months of secondary education will be a try-out period. Students will have to announce which subject cluster they want to take when they register and have to finalize their choice after these six months. Alongside these chosen subjects, every student has to follow lessons of the mother tongue, English and maths. Although the main aim of secondary education is specialization, these subjects are so inevitably important they still have to be rehearsed in secondary education. The amount of hours a student has to spend at school will be in linked to the subjects he or she has chosen. 32
  34. 34. FINAL CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS Students will study mainly from books. Schools will provide students with a laptop if this is financially possible. Examination In the first two (VET) or three (grammar school) years of secondary school, students have tests made by their own teachers. They will be graded by means of a 1-10 scale. A scale based on points will be introduced in addition to this. Students can acquire points by participating with projects, excursions and other (extracurricular) activities. Every subject requires a certain amount of points to pass. The last year of secondary school will be dominated by the final exams. The exams consist of multiple tests, spread out over the last year of secondary school. A National Center for Evaluation of Education will be established to coordinate these centralized exams. This commission will be responsible for the construction and the grading of the final exams. Students will take final exams in at least seven subjects, among which the aforementioned subjects will be. The other four will be chosen by students themselves by means of their chosen subject cluster. Continuing education on a higher level Education will be compulsory until after finishing secondary education. In most cases students will be eighteen or nineteen years old then. If students wish to develop their knowledge to an academically based knowledge, they can continue their education on higher education. Although higher education is optional, it should be encouraged by secondary school. Schools have to start the preparation already in the first year of secondary education. Students will follow lessons ‘career counseling’. Counseling will first focus on discovering a student’s interest to later find a study in accordance with their interests. Universities will ease a student’s decision by organizing open-days and offering the possibility to drop-in and follow a lecture. List of recommendations 1. Different levels I. A clear division in levels should be made in the structure of secondary education. Students should have the choice between VET and grammar school, the choice between a more practical and a more theoretical education. II. Vocational education should also contain a bit of theoretical education. Grammar schools should also have a sufficient amount of practical education. III. Apprenticeship should be compulsory in vocational education. 2. Primary to secondary Duration of the education/ structure I. Primary school should start at age six. II. Compulsory education should not be linked to an age. Education should be compulsory until after graduating secondary school. III. Primary education should last from grade one to grade nine, from age six to age fourteen. IV. The main goal of primary education should be providing students with basic education. Secondary schools should be for specialization. V. Secondary education should take three (VET) or four (grammar schools) years. Students will finish secondary education aged 18/19. 33
  35. 35. FINAL CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS Decision about transition VI. The advice to which level of secondary education a student should go, should be based on both the result a final test made in the last year of primary school and the grades obtained in the last year of primary school. VII. The recommendation of the final-year teacher should be heard, but should never be prevailing. 3. Time at school I. Primary school should start at age six. II. The actual time students spend at secondary school should be linked to the subjects followed by the student. 4. Subject clusters I. There should be three compulsory subjects: the mother tongue, English and maths. II. The basic education offered in primary education should contain, alongside of the basic subjects, subjects like social studies, physical education and an introduction to science. III. There should be a clear system consisting of three sectors: literary, economical and scientific (the French system). IV. The first six months of secondary education should be a try-out period. Students have to announce which sector they want to take when they register and will have to finalize their choice after six months. V. A system based on points should be introduced. Every subject requires a certain amount of points to pass. VI. Points are acquired by participating with projects, tests, excursions and other activities. Tests award a certain amount of points, projects idem, etc. This way students have some freedom in their lessons. 5. Grades and tests Tests I. There should be both small and big tests. Smaller tests should consist of oral testing and unannounced tests. Bigger tests are always announced. Grading II. A 1-10 scale should be used. 6. Materials I. Students should study mainly from books. II. A personal laptop for students should be provided by schools if this is financially possible. 7. Final exams I. The final exam-system should be centralized. II. The final exams should contain multiple tests, spread out over the last year of secondary school. III. A National Centre for Evaluation of Education should be established. This commission should be responsible for the construction and grading of the final exams. IV. Every student should take final exams in at least seven subjects. Three of them will be the mother tongue, English and maths. Students can choose the other four themselves. 8. Secondary to higher I. Universities should offer info-days and the possibility for students to drop-in and follow a lecture. II. Preparation done by school should already start during the first year of secondary education. III. Students should follow lessons ‘career counseling’ and should be helped by a career counselor to find a study in accordance with their interests. 34
  36. 36. ADDITIONAL CHAPTERS Additional chapters Post mortem First of all we would like to note that this project was a challenge. It required a lot of hard work, research and writing. We do believe this helped to create a well-rounded paper, which is both informative and constructive. We started this project with high hopes and with confidence in our abilities. It seemed to us that we had the opportunity to produce a survey exactly how we thought a survey is supposed to be: without any rules or regulations on the context. We would employ our potential to the fullest degree and we would see where this would lead us. Because we worked enthusiastically on a broad range of subjects, we eventually focused naturally on a few, which we see as more important. This resulted in not as much elaboration in every chapter, but seeing that we wanted a multilayered perspective of all the different types of education models, this is not a great loss. In our opinion our analyses have the greatest value, written as objectively as possible, and have a practical value as well. Our foreign correspondents all shared our enthusiasm and are very keen to see the results. What is so interesting about this project is the way it opened our eyes to the differences in educational systems. We could not help but wonder how you would feel if you, for example, were a Danish student and you had to go home and make a written exam in twenty-four hours! How every country deals with similar problems on its own way is something that could be a topic for several other studies, but also lingered in our minds while making this one. Studying all these different solutions inspired us to make our own solutions, partly by fusing features of different models together, partly by using our own opinions and experience. The survey provided us with an overview of all the features, opinions and strengths and weaknesses. This way we were able to pair advantageous components with one another. This was the basis for our entire research. Due to the many unique features residing in each national system, this has become quite a large paper. This was something that could not be avoided: we needed a lot of room to cover all the facts. We did not encounter many problems during the process of making this paper, but sometimes our correspondents did not give a sufficient answer. We completed their answers with information found on the Internet, or we did not include them in our analyses. In some cases (like our new structure of primary and secondary education) it was necessary to involve teaching methods in our research, but we want to stress that our focus has always been on the structure of education. In retrospective we are positive about our achievements. The hard work paid off in a research giving the results we wanted. A fact that makes our paper special is that apart from the mark we receive, we believe it mainly has a practical value. We hope that we can interest educators throughout Europe, an maybe even can make a difference with this survey. Patrick & Mara 35
  37. 37. ADDITIONAL CHAPTERS Bibliography Our research is largely based on the results of our survey. We regard this as our most important source. We have included it as an appendix. The answers given by our foreign correspondents were thoroughly satisfying, but in some cases we did use some additional information from the Internet. 1. Bildungssystem Österreich (without date). Consulted on multiple dates between 16-sep-2009 and 25-jan-2010, 2. Education, Audiovisual & Culture Executive Agency (2009). National summary sheets on education system in Europe and ongoing reforms. Consulted on multiple dates between 16- sep-2009 and 25-jan-2010, 047_DE_EN.pdf 3. Euroeducation (1995-2010; constantly updated). The European Education Directory. Consulted on multiple dates between 01-jan-2009 and 25-jan-2010, 4. Netherlands organization for international cooperation in higher education (without date). Nuffic Glossary. Consulted on multiple dates between 16-sep-2009 and 25-jan-2010, http:// 5. Økonomisk Institut og Center for Anvendt Datalogi (without date). 24 hours take-home exam for the B.Sc. in Economics 2009-I. Consulted on 1th of November 2009, Eksamensopgaver/V09/second.words.pdf. 6. Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (without date). Educational CountryFile. Consulted on muliple dates between 01-jan-2009 and 25-jan-2010, 7. Slovenian National Examinations Centre (without date). Consulted on 27th of October 2009, 8. SSIS toscana (February 2007). The Icelandic educational system. Consulted on the 4th of November 2009, Feb2007The_Icelandic_educational_system.doc. 9. The Finnish Matriculation Examination (without date). The Finnish Matriculation Examination. Consulted on 27th of October 2009, 10.The Finnish Matriculation Examination (without date). Statistics from the Finnish Matriculation Examination Board 2007. Consulted on 27th of October 2009, Tilastoja/Matriculation_07_web.pdf. 11.University of Minnesota Morris (without date). Grade Conversion Scales. Consulted on 1th of November 2009, %20Scales.pdf. 36