Department for Education

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Department for Education
Department for Education.svg
Department overview
Preceding agencies
HeadquartersSanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London, England, United Kingdom
Annual budget£58.2 billion (2015–16) [1]
Minister responsible
Department executive
Child agencies

The Department for Education (DfE) is the British government department responsible for child protection, child services, education (compulsory, further and higher education), apprenticeships and wider skills in England. [4]


A Department for Education previously existed between 1992, when the Department of Education and Science was renamed, and 1995 when it was merged with the Department for Employment to become the Department for Education and Employment.

The Secretary of State for Education is Rt Hon. Nadhim Zahawi MP. Susan Acland-Hood is the Permanent Secretary.

The expenditure, administration and policy of the Department for Education are scrutinised by the Education Select Committee.


The DfE was formed on 12 May 2010 by the incoming Cameron ministry, taking on the responsibilities and resources of the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF).

In June 2012 the Department for Education committed a breach of the UK's Data Protection Act due to a security flaw on its website which made email addresses, passwords and comments of people responding to consultation documents available for download. [5]

In July 2016, the Department took over responsibilities for higher and further education and for apprenticeship from the dissolved Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. [6]

Predecessor bodies


The department is led by the Secretary of State for Education. The Permanent Secretary from December 2020 is Susan Acland-Hood. [7] DfE is responsible for education, children's services, higher and further education policy, apprenticeships, and wider skills in England, and equalities. The predecessor department employed the equivalent of 2,695 staff as of April 2008 and as at June 2016, DfE had reduced its workforce to the equivalent of 2,301 staff. [8] In 2015–16, the DfE has a budget of £58.2bn, which includes £53.6bn resource spending and £4.6bn of capital investments.


The Department for Education's ministers are as follows:

The Rt Hon. Nadhim Zahawi MP Secretary of State Overall responsibility for the department; early years; children's social care; teacher recruitment and retention; the school curriculum; school improvement; academies and free schools; further education; apprenticeships and skills; higher education.
The Rt Hon. Michelle Donelan MP Minister of State for Universities strategy for post-16 education (jointly with Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills); universities and higher education reform; higher education student finance (including the Student Loans Company); widening participation in higher education; quality of higher education and the Teaching Excellence Framework; international education strategy including education exports; international students and technology in education (Edtech); Opportunity Areas programme.
The Hon. Robin Walker MP Minister of State for School Standards recruitment and retention of teachers and school leaders (including initial teacher training, qualifications and professional development); supporting a high-quality teaching profession and reducing teacher workload; Teaching Regulation Agency; admissions and school transport; school revenue funding, including the national funding formula for schools; curriculum and qualifications (including links with Ofqual); Standards and Testing Agency and primary assessment; school accountability and inspection (including links with Ofsted); support for raising; school standards; school sport; pupil premium; relationships, sex, and health education; and personal, social, health and economic education; behaviour and attendance and exclusions; early education curriculum and teaching quality.
Will Quince MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families children's social care including system and funding, workforce, child protection, children in care, adoption, care leavers and local authority performance; special educational needs, including high needs funding; early years policy and childcare, including funding, providers, workforce, children's centres, home learning environment and childcare entitlements; alternative provision; disadvantage and social mobility (including links to the Social Mobility Commission); school food including free school meals; children and young people's mental health, online safety and preventing bullying in schools; policy to protect against serious violence.
Alex Burghart MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills strategy for post-16 education (jointly with Minister of State for Universities); technical education and skills including T Levels and qualifications review; apprenticeships including traineeships; further education workforce; further education provider market including quality and improvement and further education efficiency; adult education, including the National Retraining Scheme and basic skills; Institutes of Technology and National Colleges; reducing the number of young people who are not in education, employment or training; careers education, information and guidance including the Careers and Enterprise Company.
The Rt Hon. The Baroness Barran Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the School Systemfree schools, university technical colleges and studio schools; academies and multi-academy trusts, including governance; faith schools; independent schools; home education and supplementary schools; intervention in underperforming schools, including trust capacity funds; school capital investment (including pupil place planning, new school places and school condition); counter extremism and integration in schools; safeguarding in schools and post-16 settings; school efficiency; departmental efficiency and commercial


The management board is made up of:

Non-executive board members: [4]


As of 2 August 2016, the DfE has five main sites: [9]

Agencies and public bodies


Education and Skills Funding Agency

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) [10] was formed on 1 April 2017 following the merger of the Education Funding Agency and the Skills Funding Agency. Previously the Education Funding Agency (EFA) was responsible for distributing funding for state education in England for 3- to 19-year-olds, as well as managing the estates of schools, and colleges and the Skills Funding Agency was responsible for funding skills training for further education in England and running the National Apprenticeship Service and the National Careers Service. The EFA was formed on 1 April 2012 by bringing together the functions of two non-departmental public bodies, the Young People's Learning Agency and Partnerships for Schools. [11] The SFA was formed on 1 April 2010, following the closure of the Learning and Skills Council. [12] Eileen Milner is the agency's Chief Executive. [13]

Teaching Regulation Agency

The Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) is responsible for regulation of the teaching profession, including misconduct hearings. [14] Its predecessors include the National College for Teaching and Leadership (to 2018), the Teaching Agency (to 2013) and the Training and Development Agency for Schools (from 1994).

Standards and Testing Agency

The Standards and Testing Agency (STA) is responsible for developing and delivering all statutory assessments for school pupils in England. [15] It was formed on 1 October 2011 and took over the functions of the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency. The STA is regulated by the examinations regulator, Ofqual. [16]

Public bodies

The DfE is also supported by 10 public bodies:

Non-ministerial departments Ofqual; Ofsted
Executive non-departmental public bodies Equality and Human Rights Commission; Higher Education Funding Council for England; Office for Fair Access; Office of the Children's Commissioner; Student Loans Company
Advisory non-departmental public bodies School Teachers' Review Body
Other Office of the Schools Adjudicator


Education, youth and children's policy is devolved elsewhere in the UK. The department's main devolved counterparts are as follows:


Northern Ireland


National Curriculum 2014

The Department for Education released a new National Curriculum for schools in England for September 2014, which included 'Computing'. [19] Following Michael Gove's speech in 2012, [20] the subject of Information Communication Technology (ICT) has been disapplied and replaced by Computing. With the new curriculum, materials have been written by commercial companies, to support non-specialist teachers, for example, '100 Computing Lessons' by Scholastic. The Computing at Schools organisation [21] has created a 'Network of Teaching Excellence'to support schools with the new curriculum. [22]

Post-16 area reviews

In 2015, the Department announced a major restructuring of the further education sector, through 37 area reviews of post-16 provision. [23] The proposals were criticised by NUS Vice President for Further Education Shakira Martin for not sufficiently taking into account the impact on learners; [24] [25] the Sixth Form Colleges' Association similarly criticised the reviews for not directly including providers of post-16 education other than colleges, such as school and academy sixth forms and independent training providers. [26]

Funding and grants

In 2018, The Department for Education confirmed their commitment to forming positive relationships with the voluntary and community sector. [27]

In 2020 the department began funding the National Tutoring Programme which employed private companies to deliver the tuition including at least one which uses children as tutors, paying them £1.57 per hour. [28] Tutors received up to £25 of the between £72 and £84 per hour the government paid the companies. [29]

Related Research Articles

Further education in the United Kingdom and Ireland is education in addition to that received at secondary school, that is distinct from the higher education (HE) offered in universities and other academic institutions. It may be at any level in compulsory secondary education, from entry to higher level qualifications such as awards, certificates, diplomas and other vocational, competency-based qualifications through awarding organisations including City and Guilds, Edexcel (BTEC) and OCR. FE colleges may also offer HE qualifications such as HNC, HND, foundation degree or PGCE. The colleges are also a large service provider for apprenticeships where most of the training takes place at the apprentices' workplace, supplemented with day release into college.

Secretary of State for Education United Kingdom government cabinet minister

The secretary of state for education, also referred to as the education secretary, is a secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, responsible for the work of the Department for Education. The incumbent is a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom, 14th in the ministerial ranking.

Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency

The Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA) was a charity, and an executive non-departmental public body (NDPB) of the Department for Education. In England and Northern Ireland, the QCDA maintained and developed the National Curriculum and associated assessments, tests and examinations, advising the minister formerly known as the Secretary of State for Education on these matters.

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 the United Kingdom is a devolved matter with each of the countries of the United Kingdom having separate systems under separate governments: the UK Government is responsible for England; whilst the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive are responsible for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, respectively.

Learning and Skills Council

The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) was a non-departmental public body jointly sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) in England. It closed on 31 March 2010 and was replaced by the Skills Funding Agency and the Young People's Learning Agency.

Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education is a school curriculum subject in England that focuses on strengthening the knowledge, skills, and connections to keep children and young people healthy and safe and prepare them for life and work. PSHE education is defined by the schools inspectorate Ofsted as a planned programme to help children and young people develop fully as individuals and as members of families and social and economic communities. Its goal is to equip young people with the knowledge, understanding, attitudes and practical skills to live healthily, safely, productively and responsibly.

Furness College, Barrow-in-Furness Further education school in Sixth Form Campus, Rating Lane, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England

Furness College is a college of further education in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. It provides a wide range of A levels, vocational education and skills training to over 16s, notably working with BAE Systems to train apprentices for their shipyard in Barrow. The college also offers courses for adults, and runs HNDs and other higher education programmes including foundation degrees, degrees and master's degrees, for which it achieved Teaching Excellence Framework silver status in June 2017. It is the only college in Barrow and the largest further education college in Cumbria. On 1 August 2016, Furness College merged with Barrow Sixth Form College.

Ofqual United Kingdom government department

The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) is a non-ministerial government department that regulates qualifications, exams and tests in England. Colloquially and publicly, Ofqual is often referred to as the exam "watchdog".

In England, learning and skills refers typically to post-compulsory education and training, provided by further education and sixth form colleges, schools with sixth forms, local authority and adult education institutions, private and voluntary sector providers, offender learning, and workplace learning including Apprenticeships and other employer-facing initiatives. The learning and skills sector is vital to increasing productivity, economic competitiveness and sustainable employment in the UK

The Institute for Learning (IfL) was a voluntary membership, UK professional body. It ceased operating on 31 October 2014. Although precise membership figures and statistical details had been removed from IfL's webpage prior to its closure, at the end of financial year 2013-2014 IfL were reported as having only 33,500 of their 200,000 members remaining.

Skills Funding Agency

The Skills Funding Agency was one of two successor organisations that emerged from the closure in 2010 of the Learning and Skills Council. The agency was in turn replaced by the Education and Skills Funding Agency in 2017.

The Young People's Learning Agency for England, commonly referred to as the Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA), was a UK government body, based in Coventry, which funded further education for 16- to 19-year-olds in England. It closed on 31 March 2012, when its responsibilities were transferred to the newly created Education Funding Agency.

Training and Development Agency for Schools Defunct teacher training program

The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) was a body responsible for the initial and in-service training of teachers and other school staff in England. It was an executive non-departmental public body of the Department for Education. The agency took on some operations of the General Teaching Council for England, the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency and the Children's Workforce Development Council as the newly established Teaching Agency in April 2012.

SirPeter Birkett is a British educator and entrepreneur, currently known for being the Chief Executive of an educational consultancy company p5e and the Founder and Director of Highgate Hill House School in Devon. Peter Birkett was Knighted in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to further education and the academy movement Birkett was first educated as an engineer and obtained a range of engineering diplomas. He then trained as a teacher at Huddersfield Polytechnic, where he received his Certificate of Education in Educational Leadership and Administration. He then obtained a Master degree in Leadership, Management and IT at the University of Reading.

Studio school

A studio school is a type of specialist secondary school in England that is designed to give students practical skills in workplace environments as well as traditional academic and vocational courses of study. Like traditional schools, studio schools teach the National Curriculum and offer academic and vocational qualifications. However, studio schools also have links to local employers and offer education related to the world of work. Twenty studio schools will have closed by the summer of 2018; the introduction of studio schools has been widely criticised.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is an executive agency of the government of the United Kingdom, sponsored by the Department for Education.

Susan Acland-Hood British civil servant

Susan Elizabeth Acland-Hood is a British civil servant who is currently the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education. Prior to taking on the role as Permanent Secretary, she was Chief Executive of HM Courts and Tribunals Service. From 2015 to 2016, Susan was Director of Enterprise and Growth at HM Treasury, responsible for policies on growth, energy, the environment, business, infrastructure, exports, competition and markets. She was Director of the Education and Funding Group at the Department for Education from 2013 to 2015, and before that held a range of posts covering education and justice policy, including in 10 Downing Street, Home Office, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, and the Social Exclusion Unit. Acland-Hood's civil service career began in the then Department for Education and Employment in 1999.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) is an employer led organisation that supports technical education and apprenticeships in the United Kingdom, through qualifications such as T Levels. It is funded by the Department for Education of the Government of the United Kingdom.


  1. "DfE Estimates Memoranda" (PDF). Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  2. "Susan Acland-Hood".
  3. "Top DfE job goes to acting boss Susan Acland-Hood".
  4. 1 2 "Department for Education". GOV.UK.
  5. Fiveash, Kelly (19 October 2012), ICO: Education ministry BROKE the Data Protection Act, The Register, retrieved 7 December 2012
  6. Matt Foster, New Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy swallows up DECC and BIS – full details and reaction, Civil Service World (14 July 2016).
  7. "Top DfE job goes to acting boss Susan Acland-Hood".
  8. "DfE monthly workforce management information: 2016 to 2017". GOV.UK.
  9. Retrieved 2 August 2016
  10. "Education and Skills Funding Agency". GOV.UK.
  11. "The creation of the Education Funding Agency". Department for Education.
  12. Skills Funding Agency, Annual Report and Accounts 2010–11, accessed 15 April 2017
  13. Education and Skills Funding Agency, accessed 4 January 2018
  14. "Teaching Regulation Agency". GOV.UK. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  15. "Standards and Testing Agency". Department for Education.
  16. "STA Feedback and complaints". Department for Education.
  17. "Home". The Executive Office.
  18. Welsh Government | Education and skills. Retrieved on 13 August 2013.
  19. "National curriculum in England: computing programmes of study". GOV.UK.
  20. "Michael Gove speech at the BETT Show 2012". GOV.UK.
  21. "Computing at School".
  22. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 April 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  23. Department for Education. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  24. Robertson, Alix (20 April 2016). "Shakira Martin re-elected as NUS vice president for FE". FE Week. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  25. Offord, Paul (2 November 2016). "Student focus for Sir Vince Cable's FE comeback". FE Week. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  26. Burke, Jude (8 July 2016). "MPs launch inquiry into post-16 area reviews". FE Week. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  27. "Children England".
  28. "UK tutoring scheme uses under-18s in Sri Lanka paid as little as £1.57 an hour". The Guardian. 19 March 2021. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  29. "England's 'catch-up' tutors are being short-changed by private employers". The Guardian. 28 February 2021. Retrieved 19 March 2021.

Further reading

See also