December 7th, 2010

Watchmen | you are life

Help Needed With British Education System

Due to a variety of circumstances, I'm writing a multi-fandom crossover set at a modern-day British secondary school somewhere in Kent*. Only one of these fandoms (fandom A) is originally set at such a place, and it's serving as a sort of base for the others. I am from the United States, so I have a lot of questions I need to sort out. First, I need to check a couple of things:

- The characters from Fandom A are referred to as "fifth formers." I assume this means Year 11, around 15 years of age. Is this right?

Second, for plotline purposes, the following circumstances would be ideal, and I need to check their probability.

- I have a non-religiously-associated, fairly respectable coeducational independent school. Could it lack a uniform policy? I have clothing-related symbolism planned, so some things may require shifting if not.

- Would people be most likely to refer to themselves and others by form or by year?

- I need to have a previously-homeschooled character transfer in at some point around the age of thirteen or fourteen; I understand that this means around Year 10. Do schools ever start here, a la American high schools, or should she move? Either works.

- Could a sixth-form student have a period where they serve as an assistant to a teacher, in the way that American high schools sometimes have internships?

- I need to set this in an area there is snow and snow days, but where some (filthy rich) people could reasonably travel down to Kent several times a year to visit friends.

- Are gay/straight alliances present or common in public schools (that are not slightly infamous for being liberal)? How homophobic is the general culture in co-ed, non-religious schools?

Any other useful notes on the British education system (or the culture in general) would be greatly appreciated, as would any help with this.

Search terms: British education system, British independent schools, school uniforms independent schools Britain

Wikipedia articles: Education in England, Independent schools, articles on various years and key stages, also an article on Kent which required some major reshuffling.

ETAs: Well, thank you everyone for saving me from various misconceptions about scale; I love you all. (I'd assumed Fandom A was set in Kent since they took a day trip to Canterbury on a whim, but apparently they could be anywhere in the general south.)

Also, since apparently uniforms are going to destroy my clothing-related symbolism, would private, non-school-affiliated art classes for small groups be a reasonable thing to exist? I'd assume so; that would possibly solve several problems.
A Birthday

Victorian era travel

I'm looking for information about tourism in the Victorian times -- British and American upper class -- but when I search for "Victorian tourism" or anything such combination with "Victorian" it only turns up Victoria, Australia stuff.  And the only books I find are about American tourist attractions of the era, which is useful but not too useful.

In particular, since the Grand Tour was no longer so popular, were there approved itineraries that people would travel along?  Did families, or individuals, travel alone, or were there groups?  I am particularly interested in this for young people -- young women with their families or other approved chaperons, no doubt.