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The Beatles' schooling


moneypenny131
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Right now I'm reading The Beatles by Bob Spitz and I'm in the part where the boys are still in school. I'm a bit confused by how the education system works in England. It appears to be different than it is here in the States. It seems like students must pass tests to move on to each level and they don't have to go as long as we do here. I was hoping someone might explain it to me in more detail. Also, is it still the same today as it was in the Beatles' youth?

Thanks :cool:

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In those days you took an exam at the age of eleven (the Eleven Plus exam, as it was known) to decide which secondary school you went to. You could leave secondary school at 15 without taking any more exams, or, more usually, at 16 after having taken exams called 'O' levels ('Ordinary' levels). A small percentage of students who did well in their 'O' levels would stay at school until 18 and do 'A' levels...they could then leave or go on to University if they did well in their A level exams. In the Beatles days less than 5% of pupils went on to University although many others would go to a 'College' (usually to study Art and start a band...Pete Townshend, Roger Daltry, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, The Beatles...to name a few)....hope that helps.

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Well, although I'm not as old as Sir Paul, the rules that were around at the time were still around when I was going through school. Nowadays nearly 50% of folk go through higher education.

I was one of the 5%....basically, if you did well in your 'O'levels you could CHOOOSE to then go on to take 'A' levels (advanced level) and then, if you did well enough in those you could CHOOSE to go to a University that would accept you...but clearly your choices were partly determined by your economic situation (many people chose to leave school as early as aged 15 to earn money or do an apprentiship in some trade such as Electrician or Plumber...or join the Army, Airforce, Navy etc. or work on Daddy's Farm (qv Montrose, Bad Motor Scooter...and hundreds of other songs). If you failed your exams or did not get good enough results you could stay on and repeat the exams...but, again, somebody had to feed and house you during this period and many people decided they had to leave school and work...my father-in-law was in Singapore working for the Navy when he was the age my oldest son is now (16)....! Seems strange to think that some 'kids' were working thousands of miles from home in the 1950's and 60's...you've got to remember Paul McCartney and John Lennon (and the rest)were born DURING the second World War....the world was very different then and most folk who went to University were from reasonably wealthy families...even if you were very smart and passed all your exams it was unusual to go to University if you were from working class or poor background.

Cheers

JG

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