Great Britain

The presented data comes from EURYPEDIA.

Overall responsibility for the education service lies with the Department for Education (DfE) and with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). DfE responsibilities include planning and monitoring the education service in schools and early years settings, ensuring the provision of integrated services for children, and bringing together policy relating to children and young people. BIS is responsible for science and innovation, skills, further and higher education and enterprise.  The responsibility for the provision of education is decentralised, lying with local authorities, voluntary providers including churches, the governing bodies of educational institutions and the teaching profession.

Education is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 16 years.  It is organised into two phases - primary and secondary education - and four key stages as follows:

  • key stage 1 for pupils aged five to seven (ISCED 1) (primary)
  • key stage 2 for pupils aged seven to 11 (ISCED 1) (primary)
  • key stage 3 for pupils aged 11 to 14 (ISCED 2) (secondary)
  • key stage 4 for pupils aged 14 to 16 (ISCED 3) (secondary).

The great majority of young people continue with full-time education after the age of 16. This can be at a school (11 to 18/19), a sixth-form college (16 to 19) or a further education college (16+). The landscape of providers varies according to local arrangements. In all areas of the country young people can select from a wide range of programmes leading to general/academic, pre-vocational or vocational qualifications. The qualifications are provided by centrally regulated awarding bodies, external to the school or college.

Higher education institutions are autonomous and diverse, ranging widely in size, mission and history.  They are responsible for their own admissions policy and are able to charge variable tuition fees.  Universities are responsible for their own degrees and the conditions on which they are awarded.

Policy relating to education and training for adults focuses on building an internationally competitive skills base.

For a brief description of the different levels of the education system and other related topics such as teachers and special educational needs, please read the Eurydice National System Overview.