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United-Kingdom-England:Overview

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Overview United Kingdom (England)

Contents

United-Kingdom-England:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

United-Kingdom-England:Historical Development

United-Kingdom-England:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

United-Kingdom-England:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

United-Kingdom-England:Political and Economic Situation

United-Kingdom-England:Organisation and Governance

United-Kingdom-England:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

United-Kingdom-England:Lifelong Learning Strategy

United-Kingdom-England:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

United-Kingdom-England:Organisation of Private Education

United-Kingdom-England:National Qualifications Framework

United-Kingdom-England:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

United-Kingdom-England:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

United-Kingdom-England:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

United-Kingdom-England:Funding in Education

United-Kingdom-England:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

United-Kingdom-England:Higher Education Funding

United-Kingdom-England:Adult Education and Training Funding

United-Kingdom-England:Early Childhood Education and Care

United-Kingdom-England:Organisation of Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

United-Kingdom-England:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

United-Kingdom-England:Assessment in Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

United-Kingdom-England:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

United-Kingdom-England:Primary Education

United-Kingdom-England:Organisation of Primary Education

United-Kingdom-England:Teaching and Learning in Primary Education

United-Kingdom-England:Assessment in Primary Education

United-Kingdom-England:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Primary Education

United-Kingdom-England:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

United-Kingdom-England:Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

United-Kingdom-England:Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education

United-Kingdom-England:Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education

United-Kingdom-England:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

United-Kingdom-England:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

United-Kingdom-England:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

United-Kingdom-England:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

United-Kingdom-England:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

United-Kingdom-England:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

United-Kingdom-England:Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

United-Kingdom-England:Higher Education

United-Kingdom-England:Types of Higher Education Institutions

United-Kingdom-England:First Cycle Programmes

United-Kingdom-England:Bachelor

United-Kingdom-England:Short-Cycle Higher Education

United-Kingdom-England:Second Cycle Programmes

United-Kingdom-England:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

United-Kingdom-England:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

United-Kingdom-England:Adult Education and Training

United-Kingdom-England:Distribution of Responsibilities

United-Kingdom-England:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

United-Kingdom-England:Main Providers

United-Kingdom-England:Main Types of Provision

United-Kingdom-England:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

United-Kingdom-England:Teachers and Education Staff

United-Kingdom-England:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-England:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-England:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-England:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

United-Kingdom-England:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

United-Kingdom-England:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

United-Kingdom-England:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

United-Kingdom-England:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

United-Kingdom-England:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

United-Kingdom-England:Management and Other Education Staff

United-Kingdom-England:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-England:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-England:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-England:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

United-Kingdom-England:Management Staff for Higher Education

United-Kingdom-England:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

United-Kingdom-England:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

United-Kingdom-England:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

United-Kingdom-England:Quality Assurance

United-Kingdom-England:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-England:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

United-Kingdom-England:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

United-Kingdom-England:Educational Support and Guidance

United-Kingdom-England:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

United-Kingdom-England:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-England:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-England:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-England:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

United-Kingdom-England:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

United-Kingdom-England:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

United-Kingdom-England:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

United-Kingdom-England:Mobility and Internationalisation

United-Kingdom-England:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-England:Mobility in Higher Education

United-Kingdom-England:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

United-Kingdom-England:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-England:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

United-Kingdom-England:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

United-Kingdom-England:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

United-Kingdom-England:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

United-Kingdom-England:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

United-Kingdom-England:National Reforms in School Education

United-Kingdom-England:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

United-Kingdom-England:National Reforms in Higher Education

United-Kingdom-England:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

United-Kingdom-England:European Perspective

United-Kingdom-England:Legislation

United-Kingdom-England:Glossary

 

Key features of the education system

Overall responsibility for the education service lies with the UK Government. Unlike Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, England does not have its own devolved government. The UK Government’s Department for Education (DfE) is responsible for all phases of education in England.

Reforms in the 1980s and 1990s changed the balance of responsibilities for publicly funded education outside of higher education. Schools became more autonomous as responsibility for staffing and budgets was delegated to each school’s governing bodyFurther education colleges were ‘incorporated’ as fully autonomous bodies.

The role of local authorities was reduced by these reforms. Local authorities retain their duty to ensure a sufficient supply of school places, support school improvement and support vulnerable children and young people.

Reforms since 2010 are changing school governance again. The Government is encouraging greater collaboration between schools to raise standards through new structures such as multi-academy trusts (MATs) and teaching school alliances. These provide a middle tier of management formerly provided by local authorities. There has been a fundamental shift in the landscape, with academies (including free schools) now forming a substantial minority of primary schools and a majority of secondary schools. Regional schools commissioners, appointed by Government, provide additional oversight.

Full-time education is compulsory from the term following a child’s 5th birthday until age 16. Under the Education Act 1996:

The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable—

to his age, ability and aptitude, and
to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

Parents who wish to educate their child at home do not have to seek approval.

From age 16 to 18, young people must be in full- or part-time education or training.

Accountability is based on:

  • outcome measures. For schools, the focus on the results of national tests and qualifications taken at age 11, 16 and 18. The Government publishes the percentage of students who attain a particular threshold / progress measure at each school and also sets floor standards; schools that do not reach floor standards are subject to intervention.
  • inspection of providers. Early childhood education and care providers, schools, colleges, work-based learning and adult education providers are inspected by Ofsted in accordance with a common inspection framework. Reports are published. If inspection identifies important areas for improvement, the provider may be subject to intervention.

Inspection judgements are made on:

  • overall effectiveness
  • effectiveness of leadership and management
  • quality of teaching, learning and assessment
  • personal development, behaviour and welfare outcomes.

The judgement on outcomes must take account of particular groups, including:

  • disabled learners and those who have special educational needs
  • boys/men/girls/women
  • high and low attainers
  • learners for whom English is an additional language
  • learners from minority ethnic groups
  • disadvantaged learners
  • looked after children.

Grade repetition and early tracking are not features of the school system.

Broad aims for the curriculum were established by the Education Act 1944 to promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society and to prepare pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. However, there was no Government control over the curriculum until the Education Reform Act 1988 introduced a National Curriculum with the aim of giving pupils an entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum and setting standards for pupil attainment and to support school accountability. Now re-enacted by the Education Act 2002, the National Curriculum specifies compulsory subjects, programmes of study and entitlement areas. It does not aim to be the whole school curriculum. It sits alongside other statutory requirements for religious education, sex education and careers education. Academies do not have to follow the National Curriculum. Teaching hours are not prescribed.

Qualifications drive the curriculum from age 14. General and vocational qualifications outside of higher education are regulated by Ofqual. Qualifications are provided by independent awarding organisations and, as they are external, can be taken at any age, thus providing a structure for progression from school to adult learning. Qualifications are assigned one of nine levels of difficulty on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF).

Higher education institutions are private bodies that, subject to their degree-awarding powers, are free to design their programmes and awards and to determine the conditions on which they are awarded. There is no system for the accreditation of institutions but institutions’ capability to manage their own quality and standards is judged by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), with the UK Quality Code for Higher Education as the definitive reference point. There has been a shift from direct public funding to tuition fees backed by public loans, with new fee regimes introduced in 2006 and 2012.

Stages of the education system

ISCED 0

Free part-time provision is available for all children from age 3 and for disadvantaged children from 2. From age 4 to 5, most children attend a primary school reception class full time.

A common statutory framework regulates provision from 0 to 5 across all settings, including nursery schools, maintained primary schools and academies, private and voluntary settings and registered childminders.

ISCED 1

Primary education consists of Key Stage 1 for ages 5 to 7 and Key Stage 2 for ages 7 to 11.

Primary schools are either maintained schools or academies. Almost all are mixed-sex and more than a third are faith schools.

National tests in English and maths at 11 are important for school accountability. These tests do not influence admission to secondary school but may be used to identify pupils needing additional support.

ISCED 2

Key Stage 3 is for ages 11 to 14. It is provided in secondary schools, catering for students from 11 to 16 or 18/19.

Secondary schools are either maintained schools or academies. They can either be mixed or single sex and around a fifth are faith schools. The great majority admit students without reference to academic criteria. In a few areas there are grammar schools which admit students on the basis of high academic ability.

There are no national tests in Key Stage 3.

ISCED 3

Students normally continue at the same school for Key Stage 4, which is the final phase of compulsory full-time education for ages 14 to 16.
Attainment at the end of Key Stage 4 is measured mainly through GCSEs, which are single subject qualifications. Vocational qualifications including technical awards may be offered alongside GCSEs. These qualifications are important for both student progression and school accountability.
At age 16, depending on the local offer and their own preferences, students may continue at the same school in the sixth form, transfer to another school sixth form, or transfer to a sixth-form college or to a further education (FE) college. Most academic routes lead to three A levels. FE colleges typically offer a wider range of vocational options. Vocational options include applied general qualifications and tech levels. These qualifications are important for both student progression and school/college accountability.

Apprenticeships are offered at different levels and traineeships are available for young people not ready to start an apprenticeship.

ISCED 5, ISCED 6, ISCED 7

Higher education institutions structure their programmes within a 3-cycle framework: bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral studies. Short programmes are also available.

Institutions determine their own admissions policies and there are wide variations in terms of competition for places. A levels are the most common entry qualification for young entrants to bachelor programmes, but other qualifications may be accepted. There are well-established routes, such as

Access programmes, for mature learners who lack formal qualifications.



Structure of the national education system

2016 diagram UK ENG.pngSource: Eurydice 2016

Common European Reference Tools Provided by the Eurydice Network


Article last reviewed October 2016.