Education in the United Kingdom

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

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; the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive are responsible for Scotland,[1] Wales[2] and Northern Ireland, respectively.

For details of education in each country, see:


In each country there are five stages of education: early years, primary, secondary, Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE).[3] Education (Note that education is compulsory, not school) is compulsory for all children between the ages of 5 (4 in Northern Ireland) and 16;[3] before this children can be educated at nursery.[4] FE is non-compulsory, and covers non-advanced education which can be taken at further (including tertiary) education colleges and HE institutions (HEIs). The fifth stage, HE, is study beyond GCE A levels (and their equivalent) which, for most full-time students, takes place in universities and other HEIs and colleges.

The "National Curriculum", established in 1988, provides a framework for education in England and Wales between the ages of 5 and 18; in Scotland the nearest equivalent is the 5-14 programme, and in Northern Ireland there is something known as the common curriculum.[4] The Scottish qualifications the Standard Grades, Highers and Advanced Highers are highly similar to the English Advanced Subsidiary (AS) and Advanced Level (A2) courses.[5]


Traditionally a high-performing country in international rankings of education, the UK has stagnated in recent years in such rankings as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests; in 2013, for reading and maths the country as a whole stood in the middle-rankings, a position that was broadly similar to three years before.[6] Within the UK, Scotland performed marginally better than England; both were slightly ahead of Northern Ireland, and markedly ahead of Wales.[7] However, these results contradict those of the education and publishing firm Pearson, published in 2014, which placed the UK in second place across European countries, and sixth worldwide; these rankings took into higher-education graduate rates, which may have accounted for the higher appearance than in PISA.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Scottish Government, accessed 6 June 2009
  2. ^ About, accessed 6 June 2009
  3. ^ a b "EDUCATION SYSTEM IN THE UK". British Government. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "THE EDUCATION SYSTEMS OF ENGLAND & WALES, SCOTLAND AND NORTHERN IRELAND". British Council. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  5. ^ "The British Education System". HMC Projects. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  6. ^ Coughlan, Sean. "UK makes no progress in Pisa tests". BBC. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  7. ^ "Pisa ranks Wales' education the worst in the UK". BBC. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  8. ^ Coughlan, Sean. "UK 'second best education in Europe'". BBC. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 


External links[edit]