The school day in state and independent schools usually runs from 9.00 a.m. Until 4 p.m. And the school year is divided into three terms (autumn,spring and summer), although there have been proposals to reorganize the system. Classes in British schools used to be called 'forms' and in secondary schools were numbered from one to six. But most primary and secondary schools have now adopted year numbers from 1 to 11, which include a two-year 'sixth form' for advanced work. A reduced birth rate in recent years led to a decrease in the number of school children, resulting in the closure of schools in rural and urban areas. Numbers have since increased but average class size for primary schools has been reduced to 26, although many secondary schools have classes with over 30 pupils. Most teachers are trained at the universities and other colleges. There is a serious shortage of teachers in all subjects, but especially in mathematics, technology, physics and foreign languages, and there is an increasing use of unqualified teaching assistants to take some of the burden from classroom teachers. Potential teachers increasingly see the profession as unattractive and many practising teachers leave for better-paid jobs or retire early. Teachers at present are suffering from low morale after battles with the government over pay, conditions, prescribed targets and educational reforms, and from what they perceive as the low status afforded them by government and the general public. The teaching profession has become very stressful and subject to greater pressures, such as physical assaults upon teachers by pupils, increased bureaucracy, pupil indiscipline and a lack of support for teachers from local authorities and the government.
British Civilization: An Introduction from John Oakland, 6th Edition, Chapter Education, page 219 – 220.