Primary Education

Understanding primary education

What is primary education?

Primary education is a term that refers to the formal teaching of children after they have progressed from pre-school settings and before they have reached secondary school. Although the ages of children in primary education vary around the world, this usually means from about the age of five to around the age of eleven. In some cases, primary education is carried out at home, but by far the majority of children attend a primary school to receive it. As such, it is a professional pursuit in nearly every part of the world with only qualified teachers being able to work in it. In some cases, unqualified assistants may also be used, but a professional is still required to oversee such work.

 Is primary education free?

Primary education is not always free. In most of the western world, it is provided by the state without charge, however. Some parents choose to educate their primary age children privately. Nevertheless, privately educated children must attend schools where there are qualified teachers. Charges vary for private primary education, largely depending on the reputation of the school concerned. In the UK, pre-prep schools deal with some primary education, while preparatory schools carry on the process after that. In free state schools, primary education runs from year one to year six.

Why is primary education important?

Other than the learning that an individual child will engage in, helping him or her to prepare for secondary education, it has an important social outcome. Around the globe, numerous studies have shown that it is able to reduce child mortality and poverty deprivation where there is a publicly funded primary schooling system in place. It also has a known effect on improving developmental psychology among children and helping them to become more aware of the world about them. Physical education at the primary level also helps to combat issues like childhood obesity.

Which sociological models inform primary education?

One of the key aspects of primary education that sociologists have found is that engaging in it helps to move children away from a self-centred, egocentric view of themselves. This is called sociocentrism. Another sociological theory states that education at primary level helps to provide so-called instructional scaffolding. This is the intellectual equivalent of a framework from which later learning can be hung. This would also include physical, emotional and communication skills, not just academic learning.

How does primary education differ from secondary education?

In the main, primary education is provided by teachers who cover every academic subject. Children can expect to see the same teacher every day. In secondary education, more specialisation occurs. Teachers will have more expertise in their field and stick to certain subjects. Children will see many more teachers in the course of a normal day in secondary education than they would in primary schools.

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