One of the objectives of my course was to visit educational institutes to learn how they work and to share knowledge. This morning was the turn for a Nursery, Reception and Primary School here in Oxford.
Nursery is for 3 years old. Reception is for 4 years old, with a kind of introductory function. Primary education in England begins with 5 years old children and last through six years (1-6), the last one began when they are 10 years old. There is a final exam called SAT in the sixth year, with merely an assessment function.
Comparing with Spain, we can see that there is one year less for "kindergarten" and primary education begins and ends one year before.
The school I visited was in a neighborhood with a lot of immigration. They had 38 different languages in the school, receiving a lot of children with no knowledge of english. That is why they hire a lot of teacher assistants to help the teacher managing the class. Those teacher assistants have no special qualification and earn minimum salary. Almost every classroom had two adults inside. And sometimes, even three, when the special needs teacher help them. Teaching is heavily scheduled, with short, medium and long term programming, checked weekly.
I observed two maths lessons, one for 8-9, the other for 6-7. In both classrooms, the children were given tasks ("word problems", "problemas con enunciado" in Spanish) according to three levels: bronze, silver and gold. The problems were about addition and subtraction, only the gold needing more than one operation. In the 6-7 class were beginning with intuitive division. In this classroom, very huge, the teacher used an assembly system to expose the initial concepts, helped with an Interactive Whiteboard. The students use a whiteboard slate to work while in assembly mode. The teacher also used a kind of lamp-like camera to project her written notes and tasks. These tasks were divided in Gold, Silver and Bronze levels too. Once made, the students glue them to their evaluation notebook-folder.
About technology, there is an interactive whiteboard in every classroom with its dedicated laptop. In addition, they have two cupboards with laptops. I didn't see any kind of textbook, everything was made with photocopies.