Education in the United Kingdom

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Education in United Kingdom
Department for Education
General details
Primary languages British English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
Literacy
Total99.9%
Male99.9%
Female99.9%
Attainment
Secondary diploma 88% [1]
Post-secondary diploma 45.7% [2] [3]

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, [4] Wales [5] and Northern Ireland, respectively.

Devolution is the statutory delegation of powers from the central government of a sovereign state to govern at a subnational level, such as a regional or local level. It is a form of administrative decentralization. Devolved territories have the power to make legislation relevant to the area and thus granting them a higher level of autonomy.

Countries of the United Kingdom The four countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which make up the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom (UK) comprises four countries: England, Scotland, and Wales and Northern Ireland.

Government of the United Kingdom Central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The Government of the United Kingdom, formally referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is also commonly referred to as simply the UK Government or the British Government.

Contents

For details of education in each region, see:

Education in England 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 Northern Ireland

Education in Northern Ireland differs from systems used elsewhere in the United Kingdom, although it is relatively similar to Wales. A child's age on 1 July determines the point of entry into the relevant stage of education, unlike England and Wales where it is 1 September. Northern Ireland's results at GCSE and A-Level are consistently top in the UK. At A-Level and BTEC level 3, one third of students in Northern Ireland achieved A and distinction grades in 2007, which is a higher proportion than in England and Wales.

Education in Scotland is overseen by the Scottish Government and has a history of universal provision of public education, and the Scottish education system is distinctly different from those in the other countries of the United Kingdom. The Scotland Act 1998 gives the Scottish Parliament legislative control over all education matters, and the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 is the principal legislation governing education in Scotland. Traditionally, the Scottish system at secondary school level has emphasised breadth across a range of subjects, while the English, Welsh and Northern Irish systems have emphasised greater depth of education over a smaller range of subjects.

The Programme for International Student Assessment coordinated by the OECD currently ranks the overall knowledge and skills of British 15-year-olds as 23rd in the world in reading literacy, mathematics, and science with the average British student scoring 499.6, compared with the OECD average of 493. [6] [7] 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. [8] In 2017, 45.7 percent of British aged 25 to 64 attained some form of post-secondary education. [2] [3] 22.6 percent of British aged 25 to 64 attained a bachelor's degree or higher. [2] 52 percent of British aged 25 to 34 attained some form of tertiary education, about 4 percent above the OECD average of 44 percent. [9] [10]

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a worldwide study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in member and non-member nations intended to evaluate educational systems by measuring 15-year-old school pupils' scholastic performance on mathematics, science, and reading. It was first performed in 2000 and then repeated every three years. Its aim is to provide comparable data with a view to enabling countries to improve their education policies and outcomes. It measures problem solving and cognition.

OECD international economic organisation

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 36 member countries, founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. It is a forum of countries describing themselves as committed to democracy and the market economy, providing a platform to compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practices and coordinate domestic and international policies of its members. Most OECD members are high-income economies with a very high Human Development Index (HDI) and are regarded as developed countries. As of 2017, the OECD member countries collectively comprised 62.2% of global nominal GDP and 42.8% of global GDP at purchasing power parity. The OECD is an official United Nations observer.

Stages

In each country there are five stages of education: early years, primary, secondary, further education (FE) and higher education (HE). [11] The law states that full time education is compulsory for all children between the ages of 5 (4 in Northern Ireland) and 18, the compulsory school age (CSA). [11] 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. [12] Before they reach compulsory school age, children can be educated at nursery if parents wish though there is only limited government funding for such places. [13] 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 or BTECs (and their equivalent) which, for most full-time students, takes place in universities and other Higher Education institutions and colleges.

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 provider of apprenticeships, where most of the training takes place in the apprentices' workplace with some day release into college.

Higher education Academic tertiary education, such as from colleges and universities

Higher education is tertiary education leading to award of an academic degree. Higher education, also called post-secondary education, third-level or tertiary education, is an optional final stage of formal learning that occurs after completion of secondary education. It represents levels 6, 7 and 8 of the 2011 version of the International Standard Classification of Education structure. Tertiary education at non-degree level is sometimes referred to as further education or continuing education as distinct from higher education.

Home education in the UK 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 provided by the local authority in the family home. EHE is a collective term used in the UK to describe education provided other than through the schooling system. Parents have a duty to ensure their children are educated but the education legislation in England and Wales does not differentiate between school attendance or education otherwise than at school. Scots education legislation on the other hand differentiates between public (state) school provision and education “by other means”, which includes both private schooling and home education. The numbers of families retaining direct responsibility for the education of their children has steadily increased since the late 1970s. This increase has coincided with the formation of support groups such as Education Otherwise. Home education may involve an informal style of education described as unschooling, informal learning, natural or autonomous learning. Others prefer to retain a structured school at home approach sometimes referred to as homeschooling although the terms are often interchanged.

The National Curriculum (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 not compulsory it is followed by most state schools, but some private schools, academies, free schools and home educators design their own curricula. [14] In Scotland the nearest equivalent is the Curriculum for Excellence programme, and in Northern Ireland there is something known as the common curriculum. [13] 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. [15]

Academy (English school) English school directly funded by central government

Academy schools are state-funded schools in England which are directly funded by the Department for Education and independent of local authority control. The terms of the arrangements are set out in individual Academy Funding Agreements. Most academies are secondary schools. However, slightly more than 25% of primary schools, as well as some of the remaining first, middle and secondary schools, are also academies.

Free school (England) non-profit, independent, state-funded school in England, which is free to attend

A free school in England is a type of academy established since 2010 under the Government's free school policy initiative. From May 2015, usage of the term was formally extended to include new academies set up via a local authority competition. Like other academies, free schools are non-profit-making, state-funded schools which are free to attend but which are mostly independent of the local authority. Free school is not a generic term for any school that does not charge fees.

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. [16]

Inequality

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. [17] 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. [18] Children with special needs who in theory have a statutory right to have their needs met, are frequently excluded from school and denied their statutory rights. [19]

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. [20] 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, Oxford University, Imperial College, London, and UCL consistently rank among the world's top ten universities. [21]

Entry qualifications

Students that sit for the GCSE usually take five to ten examinations and they are free to choose the number of subjects and the kinds of subjects taken. Sitting at the exam culminates the end of 11 years of mandatory education. A General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is awarded for each subject passed and World Education Services 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 program 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 program that they offer. [22] The General Certificate of Education 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 enroll in pre-university and further education programs. 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, 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. [23]

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 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 and Edexcel. Higher National Certificates and Higher National Diplomas 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. [24] The National Apprenticeship Service also offers vocational education where people at ages of 16 and older enter apprenticeships in order to learn a 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. [25]

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). [26]

Due to funding cuts very many local authorities are unable to provide the specialist education that disabled children with special needs require. Education Secretary, Damian Hinds has been called on to provide funding for this. [27]

Mental health

Mental health problems among youngsters in UK schools are increasing; social media, pressure from schools, austerity 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 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 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. [28]

See also

Related Research Articles

The General Certificate of Education (GCE) is a subject-specific family of academic qualifications that awarding bodies in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Crown dependencies and a few Commonwealth countries, notably Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Malaysia and Singapore, confer on students..

Sixth form college type of school for students aged 16 to 19 which offers advanced school-level qualifications

A sixth form college is an educational institution, where students aged 16 to 19 typically study for advanced school-level qualifications, such as A-levels, Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) and the International Baccalaureate Diploma, or school-level qualifications such as General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examinations. In Singapore and India, this is known as a junior college. The municipal government of the city of Paris uses the phrase "sixth form college" as the English name for a lycée.

The International General Certificate of Secondary Education is an English language based examination similar to GCSE and is recognized in the UK as being equivalent to the GCSE for the purposes of recognizing prior attainment. It was developed by University of Cambridge International Examinations. The examination board Edexcel and OxfordAQA also offer its own versions of International GCSEs. Students begin learning the syllabus at the beginning of Year 10 and take the test at the end of Year 11. Unlike pre-2017 GCSE, coursework of any kind is not a compulsory component.

The Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) was a subject specific qualification family, awarded in both academic and vocational fields in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. CSE examinations were set in the years 1965 to 1987 inclusive. This qualification should not be confused with the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education which is the school leaving qualification in India. Also, in some African and former British colonial countries there is to this day a qualification named Certificate of Secondary Education based on the original and former British variant. Also, the CSE should not be confused with the African qualification CSEE.

Education in Bangladesh

Education in Bangladesh is overseen by the Bangladesh's Ministry of Education. Ministry of Primary and Mass Education are responsible for implementing policy for primary education and state-funded schools at a local level. In Bangladesh, all citizens must undertake twelve years of compulsory education which consists of eight years at primary school level and six years at high school level. Primary and secondary education is financed by the state and free of charge in public schools.

The Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level (O-level) examination is a national examination held annually in Singapore. The examinations are jointly conducted by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES), Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE) as well as the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB).

Business Studies is an academic subject taught in schools and at university level in many countries. Its study combines elements of accountancy, finance, marketing, organizational studies and economics. Business Studies is a broad subject in the Social Sciences, allowing the in-depth study of a range of specialties such as accountancy, finance, organisation, human resources management and marketing.

Education in Jordan

Jordan prides itself on its advanced education system. Jordanians are well educated since education is considered a core value in Jordanian culture. Jordan has the highest ratio of researchers in Research and Development among all 57 Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states. In Jordan, there are 8060 researchers per million people, higher than the EU average of 6494, and much higher than the world average of 2532 per million.

GCE Advanced Level Subject-based qualification conferred as part of the General Certificate of Education

The A 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 educational authorities of British Crown dependencies to students completing secondary or pre-university education. A number of countries, including Singapore, Uganda, Kenya, Mauritius and Zimbabwe have developed qualifications with the same name as and a similar format to the British A Levels. Obtaining an A Level, or equivalent qualifications, is generally required for university entrance, with universities granting offers based on grades achieved.

Academic certificate document that certifies that a person has received specific education or has passed a test or series of tests.

An academic certificate is a document that certifies that a person has received specific education or has passed a test or series of tests.

GCE Ordinary Level subject-based qualification conferred as part of the General Certificate of Education

The O Level is a subject-based qualification conferred as part of the General Certificate of Education. It was introduced in place of the School Certificate in 1951 as part of an educational reform alongside the more in-depth and academically rigorous A-level in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Those three jurisdictions replaced O Levels gradually with General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) exams over time. The Scottish equivalent was the O-grade. The O Level qualification is still awarded by CIE Cambridge International Examinations, the international counterpart of the British examination Board OCR, in select locations, instead of or alongside the International General Certificate of Secondary Education qualifications. Both CIE and OCR have Cambridge Assessment as their parent organisation. The Cambridge O Level has already been phased out, however, and is no longer available in certain administrative regions.

Ofqual United Kingdom government non-ministerial department

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Education in Gibraltar

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Examination boards in the United Kingdom are the examination boards responsible for setting and awarding secondary education level qualifications, such as GCSEs, Standard Grades, A Levels, Highers and vocational qualifications, to students in the United Kingdom.

School Certificate (United Kingdom)

The United Kingdom School Certificate was an educational attainment standard qualification, established in 1918 by the Secondary Schools Examinations Council (SSEC).

The General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced Level, or A Level, is a main school leaving qualification in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. It is available as an alternative qualification in other countries.

The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is a school performance indicator linked to the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). It measures the percentage of students in a school who achieve 5+ 5-9 grades in traditional academic GCSE subjects. Though the qualification contains the term baccalaureate, it is not, unlike the French baccalaureate (baccalauréat), a passport for entry into universities and tertiary education institutions such as the International Baccalaureate. To gain access to universities in the United Kingdom and around the world, students are required to study and take exams for GCSEs and GCE Advanced Level or the International Baccalaureate which has increased in popularity in recent years.

GCE Ordinary Level (United Kingdom)

The General Certificate of Education (GCE) Ordinary Level, also called the O-level or O level, was a subject-based academic qualification. Introduced in 1951 as a replacement for the 16+ School Certificate (SC), the O-level would act as a pathway to the new, more in-depth and academically rigorous A-level, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Later the complementary and more vocational Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) was added to broaden the subjects available and offer qualifications in non academic subjects. The O-Level and CSE were replaced in the United Kingdom in 1988 by the GCSE and later complementary IGCSE exams. The Scottish equivalent was the O-grade. An O-level branded qualification is still awarded by Cambridge International Examinations in select locations.

In the United Kingdom, the Technical Level, or more commonly, the Tech Level, is a school leaving qualification offered by educational bodies to students completing secondary or pre-university education. Tech-Levels are the vocational equivalent of the A-levels and is generally required for university entrance. Tech-Levels are generally worked towards over two years and split into a number of parts, with one part studied in each year. The first part is known as the Certificate Level. The second part is known as the Diploma Level and is more in-depth and rigorous than the Certificate Level. The Certificate Level is a qualification in its own right, and the Certificate Units combined with the Diploma units forms the complete Technical Level qualification.

References

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  28. Calls for action over UK's 'intolerable' child mental health crisis The Guardian

Further reading