While this book is about teaching in general, there are occasional references to the English system on which it is based. The following note explains the relevant terms.
Compulsory education ends at the age of 16 by which time pupils will usually have gained a number of GCSEs (General Certificate of Secondary Education). This is a single subject rather than grouped qualification and the level of attainment ranges from no or a few subjects to ten or more; 5 GCSEs at Grade C or above is often used as a national benchmark. Although most GCSEs are in traditional school subjects, some are more vocationally inclined and pupils can opt to take some vocational qualifications as well or instead.
Beyond this point the system exhibits the tripartite academic/technical/ vocational structure which one finds in many industrialized countries (see Squires, G (1989) Pathways for Learning: Education and training from 16 to 19. Paris: OECD; also published in French as Les Adolescents à la Croisee des Chemins.) Students on the academic track typically study for two or three A levels (Advanced Level) taken at about the age of 18 which may be preceded or complemented by some AS levels (Advanced Supplementary Level) which are equivalent to half an A level and normally taken a year earlier. They can do this by staying on in the upper secondary school 'sixth form' (if there is one) or moving to a sixth form, tertiary or further education college, all of which provide for the 16-19 age group. However, the main work of the last is providing technical and vocational courses for both young people and adults, though FE colleges also cater for a wide range of community needs, including those of under-achieving or disadvantaged students. Technical courses, such as those leading to a Business and Technician Education Council award (BTEC/EDEXCEL) or a General National Vocational Qualification (GNVQ) most of which have recently