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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bath, England vs. Chestnut Hill, USA

In general, the English culture is not too different from that of America.  This stays true for the education systems as well.  Although classes are larger in England (my class has 33 children with only one adult, which is normal), the classroom has a similar format as in the States.  All students have their own assigned table seat, but can choose where to sit as they like on the carpet, where most instruction happens.  The day is also broken down by subject with some topics spanning multiple days and others remaining unique to one day in the week.  This would bother me as a teacher because I function greatly off consistency, but it doesn’t seem to bother my cooperating teacher or the students.  England also has a national curriculum, which all publically funded schools must follow.  This includes standards on what to teach and when to teach it.  The Common Core Standards in the States are very similar to this, although they are not mandated by the government as the National Curriculum is here.  While some say it restricts teachers on how they run their classroom, it really just provides a basic set of guidelines for the teacher to expand on and creatively adapt for her set of students.
One major difference I have encountered in my school particularly is the lack of direct focus on reading.  They only spend about 25 minutes a day, and I do not think every day, on guided reading where my teacher takes one leveled group and reads with them while the rest of the class reads independently or swaps books.  She has me take a group on Wednesdays when I go in and I literally just follow lesson plan directions from a teacher’s guide that accompanies the students’ book.  I feel like we place a much higher emphasis on teaching reading in the States than they do here.  Another more significant difference is the scheduling.  They have a shorter summer vacation by a few weeks, but have more breaks throughout the year which are either for one or two weeks.  This has made scheduling the necessary number of visits for my program in more difficult, but at the same time, it must be nice to have the year broken apart more.  


  1. Jill, Wow! A class of 33 students for one teacher, does that ever seem unmanageable? Do the techniques your CT uses for classroom management/organization differ much from what we see in Boston? It is interesting though how just when different expectations are set for students they seem to reach them, for instance sharing the attention of the teacher with 32 other students and I am sure they are still learning the necessary material.

    Also, it is interesting to hear about how different countries put different emphasis on different aspects of education. For instance, our emphasis on reading/learning to read/partner reading/guided reading/etc. I wonder if there is differences in the reading level of the students at the same age in Boston versus Bath? I'd like to think the emphasis and extra time teachers in the US put on reading would be giving benefitting our students in their comprehension and reading levels, but do not know if this is so.

    1. This was a very well-behaved group of students. I think you're exactly right...the expectations of the students is different here than at home. Miss Amies uses an extensive classroom management plan, but I think they would behave well regardless. They just love learning so much and Miss Amies's lessons are generally very creative and interactive for them. The methods of management are basically the same compared to Boston, except there is no detention equivalent. It takes a lot for a student to be sent out of the classroom. As for the reading levels, I would say my English students read better overall than American students. Not only are they more fluent, but they use great intonation and character as they read. I would be curious to see how reading works with the lower years because maybe it has a greater emphasis then.

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