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How Well do Secondary Schools Prepare Students for University in the UK?

The role of quality education in one’s professional career cannot be overstated. Right from secondary schooling up to post-graduate education, there is a lot of learning and development that takes place. However, it has often been questioned whether the levels of skill and training imparted by secondary schools is sufficient in the long run. In addition to this, a more important question is whether secondary schools prepare students for university in a sufficiently effective manner. In order to arrive at the answer, there is a need to analyse the areas where secondary schools are doing well in preparing students as well as the areas for improvement.

Strengths of the UK Schools

The UK schooling system is considered to be among the best in the world. This is driven by the fact that the UK is now among the top three countries in terms of expenditure on education as a percentage of the GDP. In addition to this, UK schools get more funding per student compared to countries such as France, Germany, or Japan. Such investments have ensured that secondary schools in the UK have a professional study environment. The infrastructure that is present in the UK is considered to be among the best in Europe, and this means that the students are well versed with various forms of technology-based learning mechanisms as well as educational equipment. Students at a secondary school level in the UK are taught using the latest technological equipment as well as procedures. This proves to be of great benefit to them when it comes to joining a university for further studies. Secondary school students are aware of the key online resources as well as the online channels for acquiring knowledge of their favourite subjects. This gives them an advantage when they join a university since they are already familiar with key online data sources as well as apps. This can make them feel more comfortable at their university since they are already aware of the technological aspects.

In addition to this, another key strength of the secondary schools of the UK which is greatly beneficial for the students in their careers is that the system is more formal and stricter compared to other countries such as the US. This ensures that discipline is already engrained in the behaviour of the students even before they go to attend university. Being self-disciplined helps the students a great deal in ensuring that they can manage the extra responsibility of studying in a university. The fact that students are already following strict time tables in school helps them in their university studies by teaching them vital skills such as time management and planning. In addition to this, another aspect is that a more formal schooling system makes students more serious towards their studies, which is never a bad thing. A more formal environment can also ensure that the students can concentrate in a better manner by weeding out the distractions. This can prove to be greatly beneficial for them at the university level. Thus, all of the above factors indicate that the UK secondary school system is on the right track and manages to prepare students to a great extent for what lies ahead.

Areas of Improvement

On the other hand, there are also some areas of improvement in terms of preparing the students for the bigger challenges ahead. According to a 2016 survey conducted on annual admissions in universities, 62% of admission officers stated that the students are not prepared enough while entering universities. The primary reasons highlighted for this included the lack of the students’ ability to think and learn independently. This indicates that the current secondary school curriculum in the UK is highly curriculum driven. There is a lack of creative thinking among the students, and this is primarily due to the excessive focus on teaching by the books. In addition to this, another weakness that is hampering the students’ ability to be university ready is their inability to choose the right field of study for themselves. This is happening because students are not aware of the demands of the subjects they are choosing. In addition, the students do not fully understand the scope and application of their chosen subjects.

Too much focus on the subject content has resulted in students not being aware of the practical aspects of their study. Also, it has been noted that many students lack the ability to think out of the box and find solutions to practical problems. For the students, the secondary education comes at a time when their personality is starting to develop. However, if the development process is not stimulated using practical projects and assignments, their development is likely to suffer to some extent. In addition to this, the strict environment that prevails in the secondary schools of the UK can prove to be detrimental towards the students’ health. This can make them more anxious about the university and the course which they have to choose. Therefore, it is the need of the hour for UK secondary schools to focus on the practical aspects of learning so that they can prepare the students for university in a better way. Also, the schools need to ensure that each student develops their own individuality and acquires the ability to think independently.


Thus, to sum up, it is clear that the secondary schools in the UK are managing to do a few things right in terms of preparing the students for university. The technology and infrastructure levels at secondary school level prepare them well for what lies ahead. However, there are still areas of improvement which can be worked upon, in order to achieve better results in terms of making the students university ready. Finally, the current curriculum for UK schools needs to be upgraded, and there is a need to imbibe more practical and activity-based learning in order to ensure that the students are ready to take the next step towards joining a university.

Author Bio

Anna Clarke is the owner of online writing company 15 Writers. She is a successful entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in freelancing, academic dissertation writing consulting, specialising in Business, Economics, Finance, Marketing and Management.