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Education in the United Kingdom is a
devolved Devolution is the statutory delegation of powers from the central government A central government is the government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), st ...
matter with each of the
countries of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym ...
having separate systems under separate governments: the
UK Government ga, Rialtas na Ríochta Aontaithe sco, Govrenment o the Unitit Kinrick , image = HM Government logo.svg , image_size=220px, date_established = , state = United Kingdom , address = 10 Downing Street, London , leader_title = Prime Minister ...
is responsible for
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
; whilst the
Scottish Government The Scottish Government ( gd, Riaghaltas na h-Alba, ) is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved government of Scotland. It was formed in 1999 as the Scottish Executive following the 1997 Scottish devolution referendum, 1997 referendum on S ...
, the
Welsh Government The Welsh Government ( cy, Llywodraeth Cymru) is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved government of Wales. The government consists of ministers, who attend cabinet meetings, and Minister (government), deputy ministers who do not, and als ...
and the
Northern Ireland Executive The Northern Ireland Executive is the devolved Devolution is the statutory delegation of powers from the central government A central government is the government A government is the system or group of people governing a ...
are responsible for
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
,
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
and
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster- ...

Northern Ireland
, respectively. For details of education in each region, see: *
Education in England Education in England is overseen by the United Kingdom's Department for Education. Local government in England, Local government authorities are responsible for implementing policy for public education and State-funded schools (England), state- ...
*
Education in Northern Ireland Education in Northern Ireland differs from systems used elsewhere in the :United Kingdom, although it is relatively similar to Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. I ...
*
Education in Scotland Education in Scotland is overseen by the Scottish Government The Scottish Government ( gd, Riaghaltas na h-Alba, ) is the of . It was formed in 1999 as the Scottish Executive following the . The Scottish Government consists of the Scotti ...
*
Education in Wales Education in Wales differs in certain respects from education elsewhere in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and ...
The
Programme for International Student Assessment The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a worldwide study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; french: Organisation de Coop ...
coordinated by the
OECD The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; french: Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Économiques, OCDE) is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 38 member countries, founded in 1961 to st ...

OECD
currently ranks the overall knowledge and skills of British 15-year-olds as 13th in the world in reading, literacy, mathematics, and science with the average British student scoring 503.7, compared with the OECD average of 493. In 2014, the country spent 6.6 percent of its GDP on all levels of education – 1.4 percentage points above the OECD average of 5.2 percent. In 2017, 45.7 percent of British aged 25 to 64 attained some form of post-secondary education. 22.6% of British people aged 25 to 64 attained a bachelor's degree or higher. 52% of British people aged 25 to 34 attained some form of tertiary education, about 4% above the OECD average of 44%.


Stages

In each country there are five stages of education: early years, primary, secondary,
further education Further education (often abbreviated FE) in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a s ...
(FE) and
higher education Higher education is tertiary education Tertiary education, also referred to as third-level, third-stage or post-secondary education, is the education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge ...
(HE). The law states that full time education is compulsory for all children between the ages of 5 (4 in Northern Ireland) and 16, the compulsory school age (CSA). In England, compulsory education or training has been extended to 18 for those born on or after 1 September 1997. This full-time education does not need to be at a school and some parents choose to home educate. Before they reach compulsory school age, children can be educated at
nursery Nursery may refer to: Childcare * Nursery (room), a room within the house designed for the care of a young child or children. * Nursery school, a daycare facility for preschool-age children * Prison nursery, for imprisoned mothers with their young ...

nursery
if parents wish, though there is only limited government funding for such places. Further Education is non-compulsory, and covers non-advanced education which can be taken at further (including tertiary) education colleges and Higher Education institutions (HEIs). The fifth stage, Higher Education, is study beyond
A levels#REDIRECT A-Level The A Level (Advanced Level) is a subject-based qualification conferred as part of the General Certificate of Education, as well as a school leaving qualification offered by the educational bodies in the United Kingdom and the ...
or BTECs (and their equivalent) which, for most full-time students, takes place in universities and other Higher Education institutions and colleges. The
National Curriculum A national curriculum is a common programme of study in school A school is an educational institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countri ...
(NC), established in 1988, provides a framework for education in England and Wales between the ages of 5 and 18. Though the National Curriculum is compulsory, some private schools,
academies An academy (Attic Greek Attic Greek is the Greek language, Greek dialect of the regions of ancient Greece, ancient region of Attica, including the ''polis'' of classical Athens, Athens. Often called classical Greek, it was the prestige (sociolin ...
, free schools and home educators design their own curricula. In Scotland the nearest equivalent is the Curriculum for Excellence programme, and in Northern Ireland there is something known as the common curriculum. The Scottish qualifications the National 4/5s, Highers and Advanced Highers are highly similar to the English Advanced Subsidiary (AS) and Advanced Level (A2) courses.


Teachers

Research by Education Support Partnership suggests that 75% of school teachers and college lecturers suffer from work-related stress. Increased work pressure from marking and exam targets lead some teachers to work 12 hours a day. Many are leaving the profession due to stress. The government has missed its targets for recruiting secondary school teachers seven years in a row. Notably too few maths, science, physics, chemistry, computing and foreign language teachers were recruited.
Department of Education An education ministry is a national or subnational government agency A government or state agency, sometimes an appointed commission, is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of government that is responsible for the oversigh ...

Department of Education
figures show in 2019 there were 85% of the secondary school teachers required. Schools recruited 43% of the physics teachers needed in 2019 after 47% in 2018, 64% of maths teachers needed were recruited in 2019 after 71% in 2018. 29,580 postgraduate trainees were recruited in England in 2019, a rise of only 365 further teachers, although secondary-school pupils will increase rapidly over the coming few years. The DfE expects a rise of almost 15% in secondary school pupils by 2027, adding roughly 400,000 pupils in English state secondary schools. Kevin Courtney of the National Education Union said, “Pupil numbers in state-funded secondary schools have already risen by almost 150,000 since 2014 and will rise by a further third of a million pupils over the next five years. Even where trainee targets have been met, recruitment to initial teacher training courses is just the very start. New teachers need dedicated support to help them develop into competent professionals. Once we have invested in their skills, we must not lose their passion and experience.” Courtney maintains not enough is done to retain newly recruited teachers and a third leave the profession within five years.


Inequality

In 2018 ''The Guardian'' commented that successful schools tend to choose pupils from high–achieving backgrounds. Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, and challenging pupils, tend to be concentrated in schools that do less well in inspections. Also that children from prosperous backgrounds are more likely to be in good or outstanding schools while disadvantaged children are more likely to be in inadequate schools. The inequality gap as of 2015 is closing with more students in good or outstanding schools from all social backgrounds. A 2016 report by the
Equality and Human Rights Commission The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is a non-departmental public body in England and Wales, established by the Equality Act 2006 with effect from 1 October 2007. The Commission has responsibility for the promotion and enforcement o ...
said that racial inequality exists in the Great Britain education system. It was found that 6% of Black school leavers went on to attend a Russell Group university, compared with 12% of mixed race and Asian school leavers, and 11% of white school leavers. In 2009, it was found that white students' predicted A-Level grades were 53% accurate, whilst Black students' received predicated grades that were 39.1% accurate. Black students are also the most likely to receive under-predicted grades by their teachers. It was found that 7.1% of Black students received higher actual grades compared to 6.6% of White students, 6.5% of Asian students and 6.1% of Mixed students. In 2018, of all teachers in state-funded schools in England, 14.1% were from BAME groups. 33.5% of primary school and 31.3% of secondary school pupils in England were from BAME groups. In 2021 it was claimed that white school pupils who are eligible for free school meals do less well than the overall figure for pupils so eligible.


Further education

Further education (FE) refers to post-secondary education in England and Wales. FE covers a wide curriculum of study and
apprenticeship An apprenticeship is a system for training a new generation of practitioners of a trade Trade involves the transfer of goods from one person or entity to another, often in exchange for money. Economists refer to a system A system is a ...

apprenticeship
s, including
A-levels#REDIRECT A-Level The A Level (Advanced Level) is a subject-based qualification conferred as part of the General Certificate of Education, as well as a school leaving qualification offered by the educational bodies in the United Kingdom and the ...
, BTEC,
NVQNational Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) were practical work-based awards in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that are achieved through assessment and training. The regulatory framework supporting NVQs was withdrawn in 2015 and replaced by the Re ...
and others, ranging from entry level to top level (3, equivalent to A level) that leads to higher education. The
sixth form In the education systems of England England is a that is part of the . It shares land borders with to its west and to its north. The lies northwest of England and the to the southwest. England is separated from by the to the east ...
is post-16 study taken after completing
GCSE The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is an academic qualification in a particular subject, taken in England England is a that is part of the . It shares land borders with to its west and to its north. The lies north ...
(General Certificate of Secondary Education) at school; academic further education are generally offered by
sixth form colleges Image:ShrewsburySixthFormCollege.JPG, Shrewsbury Sixth Form College in Shropshire A sixth form college is an educational institution, where students aged 16 to 19 typically study for advanced school-level qualifications, such as GCE Advanced Level, ...
or by 11-18 schools with an attached sixth form.
Further education college Further education (often abbreviated FE) in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a s ...
s generally provide a wider curriculum and more vocational education, although not limited to it.
Tertiary college In England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the s ...
s provide both academic and vocational courses.


Higher education

In the United Kingdom, higher education is offered by universities and non-university institutions (colleges, institutes, schools and academies) and provide both research-oriented and higher professional education. Universities provide degree programmes that culminate to a degree (bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree) and non-degree programmes that lead to a vocational qualification such as a certificate or diploma. British higher education is highly valued around the globe for its quality and rigorous academic standards. The prestige of British higher education emanates from the alumni of its world renowned institutions. Prominent people that have reached the apex in their respective fields have been products of British higher education. Britain is home to some of the world's most prominent institutions of higher learning and ranked among the top universities in the world. Institutions such as the
University of Cambridge , mottoeng = Literal: From here, light and sacred draughts. Non literal: From this place, we gain enlightenment and precious knowledge. , established = , other_name = The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of ...
, the
University of Oxford The University of Oxford is a collegiate university, collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the List of oldest universit ...
,
Imperial College London Imperial College London (legally Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine) is a Public university, public research university in London. Imperial grew out of Albert, Prince Consort, Prince Albert's Albertopolis, vision for a cultural ce ...

Imperial College London
, and UCL consistently
rank Rank is the relative position, value, worth, complexity, power, importance, authority, level, etc. of a person or object within a ranking A ranking is a relationship between a set of items such that, for any two items, the first is either "rank ...
among the world's top ten universities.


Entry qualifications

Students that sit for the GCSE usually take 20 to 25 examinations and they usually take 9 GCSEs. Most student will take Maths, English literature, English Language and double science, which total to 5 GCSEs, students normally take a further 4 GCSEs in a variety of different subjects. Sitting at the exam culminates the end of 11 years of mandatory education. A
General Certificate of Secondary Education The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is an academic qualification in a particular subject, taken in England England is a that is part of the . It shares land borders with to its west and to its north. The lies north ...
(GCSE) is awarded for each subject passed and
World Education Services World Education Services (WES) is a nonprofit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, ...
issues a high school diploma after the evaluation of a minimum of three GCSEs. Pre-university education in the United Kingdom is a two-year senior secondary programme that leads to a new round of examinations, the General Certificate of Education, Advanced Level (also known as GCE A-levels). As with the GCSE, students who sit for the exam choose the subjects and the number of examinations (the average number taken is three). WES awards undergraduate credit based on the nature and number of subjects passed. Each university has their own set of admission policies and the minimum entry requirements for each particular higher education programme that they offer. The
General Certificate of Education The General Certificate of Education (GCE) is a subject-specific family of academic qualifications that examination board, awarding bodies in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Education in the Crown dependencies, Crown dependencies and a few Com ...
Advanced Level (GCE "A Levels") is an entry qualification for universities in the United Kingdom and many other universities across the world. Students that are interested in pursuing higher education will usually enrol in pre-university and further education programmes. Pre-university education takes up to two years which culminates with a new set of examinations, the General Certificate of Education, Advanced Level (GCE A-levels). Similarly with the
GCSE The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is an academic qualification in a particular subject, taken in England England is a that is part of the . It shares land borders with to its west and to its north. The lies north ...
, students who take the exam choose their subjects of interest and the number of examinations. Most students take three subjects on average and the WES grants undergraduate credit based on the nature and number of subjects passed. Bachelor's degrees at the bare minimum typically require two to three GCE A Level passes, and a minimum number of GCSE passes with a grade C or above.


Vocational

Technical and vocational education in the United Kingdom is introduced during the secondary school years and goes on until further and higher education. Secondary vocational education is also known as further education. It is separate from secondary education and doesn't belong to the category of higher education. Further education incorporates vocational oriented education as well as a combination of general secondary education. Students can also go on to a
further education Further education (often abbreviated FE) in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a s ...
college to prepare themselves for the Vocational Certificate of Education (VCE), which is similar to the A-levels. Major provider of vocational qualifications in the United Kingdom include the
City and Guilds of London Institute The City and Guilds of London Institute is an educational organisation in the United Kingdom. Founded on 11 November 1878 by the City of London and 16 livery companies – to develop a national system of technical education, the Institute has b ...
and
Edexcel Edexcel (also known since 2013 as Pearson Edexcel) is a British multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multipl ...
.
Higher National CertificateA Higher National Certificate (HNC), part of the Higher Nationals suite of qualifications, is a higher education Higher education is tertiary education leading to award of an academic degree. Higher education, also called post-secondary education ...
s and
Higher National Diploma Higher National Diploma (HND), part of the Higher Nationals Higher Nationals are a suite of internationally-recognised higher education qualifications at level 4 Higher National Certificate, (HNC) and 5 (Higher National Diploma, HND) that are eq ...
s typically require 1 and 2 years of full-time study and credit from either HNE or Diplomas can be transferred toward an undergraduate degree. Along with the HNC and HND, students who are interested in other vocational qualifications may pursue a Foundation degree, which is a qualification that trains people to be highly skilled technicians. The
National Apprenticeship Service The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), part of the Education and Skills Funding Agency, is a government agency that coordinates apprenticeships in England, enabling young people to enter the Tradesman, skilled trades. History At the beginnin ...
also offers vocational education where people at ages of 16 and older enter
apprenticeship An apprenticeship is a system for training a new generation of practitioners of a trade Trade involves the transfer of goods from one person or entity to another, often in exchange for money. Economists refer to a system A system is a ...

apprenticeship
s in order to learn a
skilled trade A tradesman, skilled tradesman, or tradie refers to a skilled worker who specializes in a particular occupation that requires work experience, on-the-job training, and often formal vocational education Vocational education is education th ...

skilled trade
. There are over 60 different certifications can be obtained through an apprenticeship, which typically lasts from 1 to 3 years. Trades apprentices receive paid wages during training and spend one day at school and the rest in the workplace to hone their skills.
T Level T Levels are a planned technical-based qualification to be introduced between 2020 and 2022 in England. T Levels are two-year courses in England that can be studied by 16-18 year olds after finishing their GCSEs. They are the responsibility of th ...
s are a technical qualification being introduced between Autumn 2020 and 2023. They are intended to provide the knowledge and experience needed for learners to progress to skilled employment, further study or a higher apprenticeship.


Funding

In 2015/16, the UK spent £3.2 billion on under-5s education, £27.7 billion on primary education, £38.2 billion on secondary education and £5.9 billion on tertiary education. In total, the UK spent £83.4 billion on education (includes £8.4 billion on other categories).


Mental health

Mental health problems among young people in UK schools are increasing; social media, pressure from schools,
austerity Austerity is a set of political-economic policies that aim to reduce government budget deficits through spending cuts, tax increases, or a combination of both. There are three primary types of austerity measures: higher taxes to fund spending, ...
and gender expectations are blamed. Teachers' leaders say they feel overwhelmed and cannot cope. Sarah Hannafin of the headteachers' union NAHT, said, "There is a crisis and children are under increasing amount of pressure … Schools have a key role to play and we are doing what we can, but we need more funding." Louise Regan of the National Education Union stated, "Teachers are overwhelmed by the sheer number of students showing signs of mental health problems." She added counsellor and pastoral support had been seriously reduced, though money for children's wellbeing was desperately needed, she said, "There is more focus on attainment measures rather than overall concern about the wellbeing of a child."
Norman Lamb Sir Norman Peter Lamb (born 16 September 1957) is a British Liberal Democrat politician A politician is a person active in party politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in group ...
said the UK was in an "intolerable crisis", children had just one childhood and one education. "When it's gone, it's gone, and that will leave a lifetime of damage … We are failing an entire generation of young people." There were calls for a change in school culture with a switch of focus from exams to wellbeing. All pupils will be taught about mental and physical wellbeing from 2020.


See also

*
Education in England Education in England is overseen by the United Kingdom's Department for Education. Local government in England, Local government authorities are responsible for implementing policy for public education and State-funded schools (England), state- ...
* Education administration in the United Kingdom *
Examination boards in the United KingdomExamination boards in the United Kingdom (sometimes called awarding bodies or awarding organisations) are the examination board An examination board (or exam board) is an organization that sets examinations, is responsible for marking them, and dis ...
*
Faith school A faith school is a school A school is an educational institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students (or "pupils") under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal ...
*
Home education in the United Kingdom Home education in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is often termed "elective home education" ("EHE") to signify the independent nature of practice from state provisions such as education for children with ill-health provid ...
*
Preparatory school (United Kingdom) A preparatory school (or, shortened: prep school) in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Brit ...
*
Public school (United Kingdom) A public school in England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constitutional successor ...
*
Special education in the United Kingdom Special educational needs (SEN), also known as special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in the United Kingdom refers to the education of children with disabilities. Definition The definition of SEN is set out in the Education Act 1996 and ...
* Teachers' trade unions in the United Kingdom *
Universities in the United Kingdom Universities in the United Kingdom have generally been instituted by royal charter A royal charter is a formal grant issued by a monarch under royal prerogative The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege, and immu ...
*


References


Further reading

* * * * * *


External links


Department for Education
at the UK government
Studies from the Office for National Statistics regarding Children, Education and Skills

Information on education in United Kingdom, OECD
- Contains indicators and information about United Kingdom and how it compares to other OECD and non-OECD countries
Diagram of British education systems, OECD
- Using 1997 ISCED classification of programmes and typical ages.
Fully searchable UK school guide independent and state
{{Economy of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...
Childhood in the United Kingdom Adolescence in the United Kingdom