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All state schools in Britain are free, and schools provide their pupils with books and equipment for their studies.
Nine million children attend 35.000 schools in Britain. Education is compulsory from 5 till 16 years. Parents can choose to send their children to a nursery school or a pre-school playgroup to prepare them for the start of compulsory education.
Children start primary school at 5 and continue until they are 11. Most children are taught together, boys and girls in the same class. At 11 most pupils go to secondary schools called comprehensives which accept a wide range of children from all backgrounds and religious and ethnic groups. Ninety per cent of secondary schools in England, Scotland and Wales are co-educational.
At 16 pupils take a national exam called «G.C.S.E.» (General Certificate of Secondary Education) and then they can leave school if they wish. This is the end of compulsory education.
Some 16-year-olds continue their studies in the sixth form at school or at a sixth form college. The sixth form prepares pupils for a national exam called «A» level (advanced level) at IS. Yon-need «A» level to enter a university.
Other 16-year-olds choose to go to a college of further education to study for more practical (vocational) diplomas relating to the world of work, such as hairdressing, typing or mechanics.
Universities and colleges of higher education accept students with «A» levels from 18. Students study for a degree which takes on average three years of full-time study.
Most students graduate at 21 or 22 and are given their degree at a special graduation ceremony.