Education in England

Education in England is overseen by the United Kingdom's Department for Education. Local government authorities are responsible for implementing policy for public education and state-funded schools at a local level.

Education in England
Department for Education
Secretary of State (Education)
Minister of State for Universities[2]
Gavin Williamson

Michelle Donelan
National education budget (2008–09)
Budget£62.2 billion[3][4]
General details
Primary languagesEnglish
System typeNational
Compulsory education1880
Literacy (2012[5])
Total99%
Enrollment
Total11.7 million
Primary4.50 million (in state schools)[6] (2016)
Secondary2.75 million (up to year 11 in state schools)[6] (2016)
Post secondaryHigher Education: 1,844,095[7](2014/15)
Further Education: 2,613,700[8](2014/15)
Total: 4,457,795 (2014/15)
Attainment
Secondary diplomaLevel 2 and above: 87.4%
Level 3 and above: 60.3%
(of 19 year olds in 2015)[9] Level 2 and above: 81.0%
Level 3 and above: 62.6%
(of adults 19-64 in 2014)[8]
Post-secondary diplomaLevel 4 and above: 41.0%
(of adults 19-64 in 2014)[8]

England also has a tradition of independent schools (some of which call themselves public schools) and home education: legally, parents may choose to educate their children by any permitted means. State-funded schools may be selective grammar schools or non-selective comprehensive schools (non-selective schools in counties that have grammar schools may be called by other names, such as high schools). Comprehensive schools are further subdivided by funding into free schools, other academies, any remaining Local Authority schools and others. More freedom is given to free schools, including most religious schools, and other academies in terms of curriculum. All are subject to assessment and inspection by Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills).

The state-funded education system is divided into Key Stages based upon age: Early Years Foundation Stage (ages 3–4 by August 31st); primary education (ages 5 to 10 by August 31st), subdivided into Key Stage 1 (KS1) Infants (ages 5 to 6 by August 31st) and Key Stage 2 (KS2) Juniors (ages 7 to 10 by August 31st); secondary education (ages 11 to 15 by August 31st), subdivided into Key Stage 3 (KS3; ages 11 to 13 by August 31st) and Key Stage 4 (KS4; ages 14 to 15 by August 31st); Key Stage 5 is post-16 education (ages 16 to 17 by August 31st); and tertiary education (for ages 18+).[10]

At the end of Year 11 (at age 15 or 16, depending on their birthdays) students typically take General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exams or other Level 1 or Level 2 qualifications. For students who do not pursue academic qualifications until the end of Year 13, these qualifications are roughly equivalent to the completion of high school in many other countries, or high school graduation in the United States and Canada.

While education is compulsory until 18, schooling is compulsory to 16: thus post-16 education can take a number of forms, and may be academic or vocational. This can involve continued schooling, known as "sixth form" or "college", leading (typically after two years of further study) to A-level qualifications, or a number of alternative Level 3 qualifications such as Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC), the International Baccalaureate (IB), Cambridge Pre-U, WJEC or Eduqas. It can also include work-based apprenticeships or traineeships, or volunteering.[11][12]

Higher education often begins with a three-year bachelor's degree. Postgraduate degrees include master's degrees, either taught or by research, and doctoral level research degrees that usually take at least three years. Tuition fees for first degrees in public universities are £9,250 per academic year for English, Welsh and European Union students.[13]

The Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) covers national school examinations and vocational education qualifications. It is referenced to the European Qualifications Framework, and thus to other qualifications frameworks across the European Union.[14] The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ), which is tied to the RQF, covers degrees and other qualifications from degree-awarding bodies.[15] This is referenced to the Qualifications Framework of the European Higher Education Area developed under the Bologna process.[16]

The Programme for International Student Assessment coordinated by the 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.[17] In 2011, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) rated 13–14-year-old pupils in England and Wales 10th in the world for maths and 9th for science.[18]