|Department for Education|
|Primary languages||English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh|
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.
For details of education in each region, see:
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.
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%.
In each country there are five stages of education: early years, primary, secondary, further education (FE) and higher education (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 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 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 (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, 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.
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 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 though 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.
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.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.
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, theUniversity of Oxford, Imperial College, London, and UCL consistently rank among the world's top ten universities.
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 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 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 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, 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.
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.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.
T Levels 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.
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 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 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 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.
Vocational education is education that prepares people to work as a technician or in various jobs such as a tradesman or an artisan. Vocational education is sometimes referred to as career and technical education. A vocational school is a type of educational institution specifically designed to provide vocational education.
In the United Kingdom, the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is an academic qualification, generally taken in a number of subjects by pupils in secondary education in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. State education in Scotland does not use GCSEs; instead its Scottish Qualifications Certificate operates National/Intermediate exams at the equivalent level. However, certain private schools in Scotland offer GCSEs, and the proportion of Scottish pupils taking GCSEs to facilitate admission to English universities is increasing.
Education in the Netherlands is characterized by division: education is oriented toward the needs and background of the pupil. Education is divided over schools for different age groups, some of which are divided in streams for different educational levels. Schools are furthermore divided in public, special (religious), and general-special (neutral) schools, although there are also a few private schools. The Dutch grading scale runs from 1 to 10 (outstanding).
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 Sweden is mandatory for children between ages 6 and 15. The school year in Sweden runs from mid/late August to early/mid June. The Christmas holiday from mid December to early January divides the Swedish school year into two terms.
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.
Education in Wales differs in certain respects from education elsewhere in the United Kingdom. For example, a significant minority of students all over Wales are educated either wholly or largely through the medium of Welsh: in 2014/15, 15.7% of children and young people received Welsh-medium education - a drop from the 15.9% in 2010/11. And additional 10% attend schools which had a significant portion of the curriculum is bilingual. The study of the Welsh language is available to all age groups through nurseries, schools, colleges and universities and in adult education. The study of the language is compulsory for all pupils in State Schools until the age of 16.
Education in Finland is an education system, in Finland, that consists of daycare programmes and a one-year "pre-school" ; a nine-year compulsory basic comprehensive school ; post-compulsory secondary general academic and vocational education; higher education ; and adult education. The Finnish strategy for achieving equality and excellence in education has been based on constructing a publicly funded comprehensive school system without selecting, tracking, or streaming students during their common basic education. Part of the strategy has been to spread the school network so that pupils have a school near their homes whenever possible or, if this is not feasible, e.g. in rural areas, to provide free transportation to more widely dispersed schools. Inclusive special education within the classroom and instructional efforts to minimize low achievement are also typical of Nordic educational systems.
Education in Greece at all levels is centralized by the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs (Υ.ΠΑΙ.Θ.). The Ministry exercises control over public schools, formulates and implements legislation, administers the budget, administers and coordinates national level university entrance examinations, sets up the national curriculum, appoints public school teaching staff, and coordinates other services. The national supervisory role of the Ministry is exercised through Regional Unit Public Education Offices which are named Regional Directorates of Primary and Secondary School Education. Public schools and textbooks are funded by the government. About 25% of postgraduate programmes offer free tuition, while about 30% of students are eligible to attend programmes tuition-free based on individual criteria. Formal education in Greece comprises three educational stages. The first stage of formal education is the Primary stage, followed by the Secondary stage which separates into two sub-stages: the compulsory Gymnasio and non-compulsory Lyceum. The third stage involves higher education. School holidays in Greece include Christmas, Greek Independence Day, Easter, National Anniversary Day, a three-month summer holiday, National Public Holidays, and local holidays which vary by region such as the local Saint's Day. In addition to schooling, the majority of students attend extracurricular private classes at private centres called "frontistiria" or one-to-one tuition, which prepare students for higher education admission, like the Pan-Hellenic Examinations, and to learn foreign languages. Students on the school premises possess mobile phones or other electronic devices, like the smartwatches, in-ear headphones, are prohibited by law.
State schools, called public schools in North America and many other countries, are generally primary or secondary schools mandated for or offered to all children without charge, funded in whole or in part by taxation.
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 boards Edexcel and Oxford AQA also offer their own versions of International GCSEs. Students normally begin studying 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.
Education in Hungary is predominantly public, run by the Ministry of Human Resources. Preschool kindergarten education is compulsory and provided for all children between three and six years old, after which school attendance is also compulsory until age of sixteen. Primary education usually lasts for eight years. Secondary education includes three traditional types of schools focused on different academic levels: the Gymnasium enrols the most gifted children and prepares students for university studies; the secondary vocational schools for intermediate students lasts four years and the technical school prepares pupils for vocational education and the world of work. The system is partly flexible and bridges exist, graduates from a vocational school can achieve a two years program to have access to vocational higher education for instance. The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) rated 13–14-year-old pupils in Hungary among the bests in the world for maths and science.
Education in Mauritius is managed by the Ministry of Education & Human Resources, which controls the development and administration of state schools funded by government, but also has an advisory and supervisory role in respect of private schools. The Tertiary education is maintained by the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Science, Research and Technology. The government of Mauritius provides free education to its citizens from pre-primary to tertiary levels. Since July 2005, the government also introduced free transport for all students. Schooling is compulsory up to the age of 16. Mauritian students consistently rank top in the world each year for the Cambridge International O Level, International A and AS level examinations.
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.
The system of education in Iceland is divided in four levels: playschool, compulsory, upper secondary and higher, and is similar to that of other Nordic countries. Education is mandatory for children aged 6–16. Most institutions are funded by the state; there are very few private schools in the country. Iceland is a country with gymnasia.
Education in Gibraltar generally follows the English system operating within a three tier system. Schools in Gibraltar follow the Key Stage system which teaches the National Curriculum.
The first documented school in Lithuania was established in 1387 at Vilnius Cathedral. The school network was influenced by the Christianization of Lithuania. Several types of schools were present in medieval Lithuania – cathedral schools, where pupils were prepared for priesthood; parish schools, offering elementary education; and home schools dedicated to educating the children of the Lithuanian nobility. Before Vilnius University was established in 1579, Lithuanians seeking higher education attended universities in foreign cities, including Kraków, Prague, and Leipzig, among others. During the Interbellum a national university – Vytautas Magnus University was founded in Kaunas.
Science education in England is generally regulated at all levels for assessments that are England's, from 'primary' to 'tertiary' (university). Below university level, science education is the responsibility of three bodies: the Department for Education, Ofqual and the QAA, but at university level, science education is regulated by various professional bodies, and the Bologna Process via the QAA. The QAA also regulates science education for some qualifications that are not university degrees via various qualification boards, but not content for GCSEs, and GCE AS and A levels. Ofqual on the other hand regulates science education for GCSEs and AS/A levels, as well as all other qualifications, except those covered by the QAA, also via qualification boards. The Department for Education prescribes the content for science education for GCSEs and AS/A levels, which is implemented by the qualification boards, who are then regulated by Ofqual. The Department for Education also regulates science education for students aged 16 years and under. The department's policies on science education are implemented by local government authorities on all state schools in England. The content of the nationally organised science curriculum for England is published in the National Curriculum, which covers key stage 1 (KS1), key stage 2 (KS2), key stage 3 (KS3) and key stage 4 (KS4). The four key stages can be grouped a number of ways; how they are grouped significantly affects the way the science curriculum is delivered. In state schools, the four key stages are grouped into KS1–2 and KS3–4; KS1–2 covers primary education while KS3–4 covers secondary education. But in independent or public schools, the key stage grouping is more variable, and rather than using the terms ‘primary’ and 'secondary’, the terms ‘prep’ and ‘senior’ are used instead. Science is a compulsory subject in the National Curriculum of England, Wales and Northern Ireland; state schools have to follow the National Curriculum while independent schools need not follow it. That said, science is compulsory in the Common Entrance Examination for entry into senior schools, so it does feature prominently in the curricula of independent schools. Beyond the National Curriculum and Common Entrance Examination, science is voluntary, but the government of the United Kingdom provides incentives for students to continue studying science subjects. Science is regarded as vital to the economic growth of the United Kingdom (UK). For students aged 16 years and over, there is no compulsory nationally organised science curriculum for all state/publicly funded education providers in England to follow, and individual providers can set their own content, although they often get their science courses accredited or made satisfactory. Universities do not need such approval, but there is a reason for them to seek accreditation regardless. Moreover, UK universities have obligations to the Bologna Process to ensure high standards. Science education in England has undergone significant changes over the centuries; facing challenges over that period, and still facing challenges to this day.