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Thread: Being British XII

  1. #51
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    Primary School

    I'm writing a one-shot about Hermione's pre-Hogwarts life. Anyway, I need a massive favour from all British Mugglenetters. I need help with a day in the life of a primary school student in England, at the age of 10ish. So, include everything - from leaving your homes to the moment you get back home. How did you get to/from school? What time did school start? What were your breaks like? What did you take to school - uniforms, did you have satchels or bags? - just anything you can remember. Also, tell me a bit about the English Education System in general - Wikipedia's being a poohead and not telling me anything.

    Also, I need to get the names of a few British settlements - places in England that just scream "suburbia" - where the average family lives. Also, the sort of names that state schools would have in those particular areas. I want to make this as accurate as possible.

    Thanks in advance for your help!




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  2. #52
    psijupiter
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    EDIT: This is the more organised and hopefully more useful post. Please ask questions! I will extend any of the sections if you like.

    I am writing from a very very middle-class, white, professional background - which does seem to be the kind of background Hermione comes from. I'm also about the same age as Hermione, (a couple of years younger) so hopefully this will be helpful! However, please bear in mind that my experiences are not universal!

    School structure

    The overwhelming majority of children will attend a state school. These will either be entirely funded by the state, or receive some of it’s funding from a religious organisation if they are religious schools, e.g. Catholic, Church of England, Jewish etc.

    Most children will attend a Primary School from 5-11 and then a Secondary School from 11-16 or 18. Some places have a Elementary/Middle/High School arrangement.

    School Year

    The school year starts in September, generally the first Tuesday of the month, with the Monday being a Teacher Training Day.

    Autumn Term: September to December, usually breaking up the last Wednesday/Thursday before Christmas.
    Autumn Half Term: Week long holiday, sometime in October.
    Christmas Break: Two weeks.
    Spring Term: January to Easter, usually the last Wednesday/Thursday before Easter.
    Spring Half Term: Week long holiday, sometime in Feb/Mar (depending when Easter falls)
    Easter Break: Two weeks.
    Summer Term: End of Easter hols to mid July.
    Summer Half Term: Week long holiday, usually May.
    Summer Holiday: six weeks, from mid-July to last week in August.

    School Structure

    Infants
    Reception – children turn 5 during the school year.
    Key Stage One
    Year One – children turn 6 during the school year.
    Year Two – children turn 7 during the school year.
    Juniors
    Key Stage Two
    Year Three – children turn 8 during the school year.
    Year Four – children turn 9 during the school year.
    Year Five – children turn 10 during the school year.
    Year Six – children turn 11 during the school year.

    Children will start school either the September before their fifth birthday, or the term before their fifth birthday, depending on the school/LEA policy. So a child born in October will always start in the September before their fifth birthday, but a child born in Februart will either start in the September before their fifth birthday or in the January before their fifth birthday.

    Standard Assessment Tests (SATs)
    Completed at the end of the Key Stages – so in Year Two and Year Six. Only in English, Maths and Science.

    Awarded in levels:
    Level One – below average for Year Two
    Level Two – average for Year Two
    Level Three – above average for Year Two/below average for Year Six
    Level Four – average for Year Six
    Level Five – above average for Year Six

    Year six pupils can take an extension paper to see if they are working at a Level Six level, but this would normally only be done in schools where several pupils would take it.

    A child should progress two levels from Year Two to Year Six. So a child who got an above average Level Three in Year Two would be expected to get a Level Five in Year Six.

    Classes
    Children stay in the same class for a year, and have one teacher for all subjects. It is quite unusual in British schools for children to be moved up a year and almost unheard of for them to be held back a year.

    A School Day
    8.30: Children start to arrive at school. Many will play in the playground.
    8.50/9am: School starts, with a whole school assembly.
    Morning Lessons: English and Maths
    Morning Break: 15 minutes, around 10/10.30am.
    Lunch: 12-1ish.
    Afternoon Lessons: One or timetables activities.
    Afternoon Break: Infants only.
    3.15/3.30: Hometime.

    Travelling to School
    Many children live in walking distance of their Primary School, or short drive away. Some children will take a bus, but often this would just be a normal public transport bus, rather than a specific bus for school children.

    Most children would be brought by a parent or other relative, but some arebrought by child minders or a friends parent. Older children may come on their own, perhaps with young siblings.

    Teachers will be outside from about 8.30, 8.40. Some children may arrive earlier, but parents would be discouraged from this as there is no one to watch the children. Children will generally play outside until school starts, unless it is raining, when children may be allowed into their classroom.

    Assemblies
    Every day starts with a whole school assembly. All schools in England and Wales are required to have a daily act of Christian worship. An assembly would include the head teacher or other teacher reading a story with a moral lesson, normally linked to a teaching from the bible. There may also be announcements or awards, and everyone will sing a children’s hymn. Some schools have separate assemblies for the infants and juniors, but will still normally have one large school assembly once a week. (This may depend on the size of the school.)

    Religious schools may replace the assembly with a special mass/service near religious occasions, for example at my Catholic school, the priest came and did a special mass near Easter and Christmas.

    Lessons
    Morning lessons will always be English and Maths. Each afternoon there would be one or two different subjects, including history, geography, art, music, P.E, science, design technology.

    For example, Monday afternoon would be art and design technology, Tuesday would be history and geography, Wednesday would be science, etc, etc. I think P.E was once a week - maybe twice.

    Breaks
    All children get a 15 minute morning break and an hour for lunch. Infant classes would normally get an extra 15 minutes in the afternoon, and Reception classes may have longer breaks. Up until I was about 6/7 all children got free milk at morning break.

    Lunch
    Lunch is generally a packed lunch (sandwiches, yoghurt, fruit, crisps, chocolate) provided by the parents. Some schools did offer a cooked lunch, but in my experience even then the majority of children would take packed lunches. Children from poor families would get a free lunch - cooked if available, packed if not - provided by the Local Education Authority. Hermione probably wouldn't be anywhere near qualifying for this.

    Packed lunches came in lunchboxes - brightly coloured plastic boxes with pictures of popular children's characters on them - like Power Rangers or Fireman Sam.

    Uniforms
    Uniforms are VERY common, even more so in primary school. Each school would have some colour associated with it. (Green, Blue, Red, Yellow. I haven't ever seen orange or purple. You would have different shades in different schools.)

    A uniform would include:
    white shirt
    grey/black trousers or shorts for boys
    grey/black shirt or pinafore dress for girls
    tie in the school colour/design (might be plain or might be striped)
    jumper in the school colour
    a summer dress for girls, in the school colour and often checked
    white socks
    sensible black shoes

    Recently (the past ten years) primary schools have been more relaxed, letting girls wear trousers, and generally swapping the shirt and tie for a white polo shirt. This won't apply for Hermione's time though.

    Schools also have reading bags - these can be cloth or clear plastic, in which children take home reading books from school and a book to record that they have been reading with parents at home. Younger children probably wouldn't take anything else, but older children would almost certainly have a rucksack for carrying lunchbox, pencil case and homework to and from school.

    Home Time
    School finishes at 3.30. Children are collected by parents or other relatives, child minders or parent's friends. Older children might walk home alone, with younger brothers and sisters. Teacher will generally not let younger children leave without seeing their parent/appropriate guardian, but older children are given a bit more freedom, though there will be teachers outside making sure there are no problems.

    After School clubs
    In primary school these will depend entirely on the teachers at the school. So if there is a teacher who knows about football, there will be a football club, etc. Common afterschool clubs are: Choir, football and netball. More recently schools have started having gardening clubs, chess clubs, etc, but I don't remember these being very common when I was at school.

    School Names
    Religious schools maybe named after Saints, especially if they are attached to a church of the same name, e.g. St. Joesph, St Mary, etc. Schools maybe simply be named after the village/town they are, especially if they are the only one in the area, so Villagename Primary School, or after a local area, e.g. Green Park Primary School or Pretty Hills Primary School.

  3. #53
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
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    Wow, Psi covered a lot in her post!

    I just wanted to add something about having sets for certain classes. When I was at Primary School (and my mum has just told me it's still the same now) we only had sets for English and Maths, for all the other lessons (Geography and History etc), we stayed in our own classes. Also, the classes were usually combined of two age groups, for example there were two year 5&6 classes, and two year 3&4 classes. Below that, though, the years were kept separate (one year 2 class, one year 1 class etc).

    In Hermione's day, the older children in the year generally started before the younger children when they first started school (Reception year). In my school, the children born in September, October, November and December started school at the beginning of September and stayed all day. The younger ones started a couple of weeks after for only about three mornings a week. I only started full time after the half-term holiday. I'm not sure if that was something that happened in many schools, though. Since Hermione's birthday is in September, she would have been one of the ones who started full time straight away.

    We also did things called Personal Projects once a year (although I did have a teacher who decided to set one once a term until too many parents complained). They were on a topic set by the teacher that covered a subject we had been learning about that year, or term. They could be on anything, I remember doing them on the Tudors, the Second World War, endangered species, the Vikings... things like that. I can see Hermione really excelling at these.

    Sarah x


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  4. #54
    psijupiter
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sapphire at Dawn
    I just wanted to add something about having sets for certain classes. When I was at Primary School (and my mum has just told me it's still the same now) we only had sets for English and Maths, for all the other lessons (Geography and History etc), we stayed in our own classes. Also, the classes were usually combined of two age groups, for example there were two year 5&6 classes, and two year 3&4 classes. Below that, though, the years were kept separate (one year 2 class, one year 1 class etc).
    Gosh, I've never heard of setting children in Primary School - certainly never happened to me. Our school never combined years, but my mum worked in schools where it was very common, and more common in the younger classes than the older ones. Recently I worked in a school that had all of the Infants in one class. I think how they organise/combine classes depends entirely on the size of the school and the size of each year group.

  5. #55
    Second Year Ravenclaw
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    Wow!

    Wow, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU guys! You've really helped me with that! Especially you, Psi!

    Anyway, I still need a town/settlement name in England! Preferrably somewhere heavily populated! If its a city then can you give me suburbs in that city? Or do you think I should just make up a name that sounds very British?

    ~ Jordana




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  6. #56
    Sixth Year Hufflepuff
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    Greetings, British friends. I need to know about some wedding protocol. I'm writing a one-shot around a wedding, and am specifically wondering what goes on the night before? In the U.S. there is most often a "rehearsal dinner" where the wedding party practices the order of the ceremony and whatnot, and then the groom's family (traditionally) hosts a dinner for all the party and family. Is this kind of thing customary in England? Or do other things traditionally happen the night before?

    I am an expert on fancy English receptions, having read Northumbrian's After Breakfast but this wedding is a small affair in a little church... a lovely wedding on a small budget, if you will. What activities would you expect to happen the day/night before?

    Thanks so much!
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  7. #57
    psijupiter
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    Quote Originally Posted by U-No-Poo
    Wow, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU guys! You've really helped me with that! Especially you, Psi!

    Anyway, I still need a town/settlement name in England! Preferrably somewhere heavily populated! If its a city then can you give me suburbs in that city? Or do you think I should just make up a name that sounds very British?

    ~ Jordana
    For some reason I can imagine Hermione living somewhere like Bristol or Bath which are in the south west. She doesn't speak with any noticeable accent, so for me that rules out most of the northern cities. She might live in one of the more well off areas near London, or perhaps Oxford or Reading which are cities near London.

    What sort of place do you imagine her living? The 'average' family covers rather a lot! The average middle class family with professional parents... hmm. Perhaps look up 'spa towns in England' on wikipedia? They tend to be reasonably well off, well populated areas that might be towns, cities or areas within a city. It might give you an idea of names and places anyway.

  8. #58
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
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    U-No-Poo: There's an essay on the Lexicon that places her hometown in Winchester in Hampshire, so that's something you could go for. It's a rather historic town which could have inspired her love of learning early on in life. It's in the south, and I agree with Psi in that she doesn't seem like she has an accent. Living in Bristol would most definitely give you an accent, and not a very Hermione-ish one (they're all rather west-country. Also, Hermione's parents are rather wealthy and Bristol is a bit of a run-down place), but Bath is a good option. This too is a place rich in history, and another place you could perhaps consider is Oxfordshire or Cheltenham.

    Weasley Mom: There was someone on the radio yesterday who was having a wedding rehearsal, so we do have them. I'm not sure how common they are though, and I know my parents didn't have one because my mum was in the car with me at the time and I asked her. Perhaps it is something that has come over from America. However, I think that if it's a low-budget wedding in a little church it is unlikely, but I'm just guessing here. I don't think there's any specific tradition the night before the wedding, but, again, I could well be wrong! I think that if you wanted to have the groom's family giving a dinner then you could. I know of nothing that would contradict this.

    Sarah x


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  9. #59
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    Thanks!

    Thanks everyone for their helpful, nice, QUICK responses. I think I've got everything I need. I've also got a title for the story. Keep your eyes peeled for "The 'Other' World" by U-No-Poo - I hope to put it in the queue really soon, its almost ready to be emailed to my beta!

    ~U-No-Poo




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  10. #60
    Fifth Year Ravenclaw
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    As Sapphire at Dawn says, the Lexicon suggests Winchester.

    Hermione's parents are both dentists so they "won't be short of a bob or two" There are lots of really daft place names in the area around Winchester (it's a bit picture postcard, like Midsomer but without the Murders). I've put her in a place called Itchen Worthy, just google the area and you'll find a lot of inspiration for place names.

    Schools: I'd add that in more rural areas (like mine) the infant/junior/secondary (or first/middle/high) system is almost always three seperate schools with often tiny infant schools serving large underpopulated areas most LEA's (Local Education Authorities) try not to bus young kids any great distance.

    Neil

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