Department for Education

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Department for Education
Department for Education.svg
Department overview
Preceding agencies
HeadquartersSanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London, England, United Kingdom
Annual budget£58.2 billion (2015–16)[1]
Minister responsible
Department executive
Child agencies

The Department for Education (DfE) is the British government department responsible for child protection, child services, education (compulsory, further and higher education), apprenticeships and wider skills in England.[4]

A Department for Education previously existed between 1992, when the Department of Education and Science was renamed, and 1995 when it was merged with the Department for Employment to become the Department for Education and Employment.

The Secretary of State for Education is Rt Hon. Nadhim Zahawi MP. Susan Acland-Hood is the Permanent Secretary.

The expenditure, administration and policy of the Department for Education are scrutinised by the Education Select Committee.


The DfE was formed on 12 May 2010 by the incoming Cameron ministry, taking on the responsibilities and resources of the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF).

In June 2012 the Department for Education committed a breach of the UK's Data Protection Act due to a security flaw on its website which made email addresses, passwords and comments of people responding to consultation documents available for download.[5]

In July 2016, the Department took over responsibilities for higher and further education and for apprenticeship from the dissolved Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.[6]

Predecessor bodies[edit]


The department is led by the Secretary of State for Education. The Permanent Secretary from December 2020 is Susan Acland-Hood.[3] DfE is responsible for education, children's services, higher and further education policy, apprenticeships, and wider skills in England, and equalities. The predecessor department employed the equivalent of 2,695 staff as of April 2008 and as at June 2016, DfE had reduced its workforce to the equivalent of 2,301 staff.[7] In 2015–16, the DfE has a budget of £58.2bn, which includes £53.6bn resource spending and £4.6bn of capital investments.


The Department for Education's ministers are as follows:

Minister Title Portfolio
The Rt Hon. Nadhim Zahawi MP Secretary of State Overall responsibility for the department; early years; children's social care; teacher recruitment and retention; the school curriculum; school improvement; academies and free schools; further education; apprenticeships and skills; higher education.
The Rt Hon. Michelle Donelan MP Minister of State for Universities strategy for post-16 education (jointly with Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills); universities and higher education reform; higher education student finance (including the Student Loans Company); widening participation in higher education; quality of higher education and the Teaching Excellence Framework; international education strategy including education exports; international students and technology in education (Edtech); Opportunity Areas programme.
The Hon. Robin Walker MP Minister of State for School Standards recruitment and retention of teachers and school leaders (including initial teacher training, qualifications and professional development); supporting a high-quality teaching profession and reducing teacher workload; Teaching Regulation Agency; admissions and school transport; school revenue funding, including the national funding formula for schools; curriculum and qualifications (including links with Ofqual); Standards and Testing Agency and primary assessment; school accountability and inspection (including links with Ofsted); support for raising; school standards; school sport; pupil premium; relationships, sex, and health education; and personal, social, health and economic education; behaviour and attendance and exclusions; early education curriculum and teaching quality.
Will Quince MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families children's social care including system and funding, workforce, child protection, children in care, adoption, care leavers and local authority performance; special educational needs, including high needs funding; early years policy and childcare, including funding, providers, workforce, children's centres, home learning environment and childcare entitlements; alternative provision; disadvantage and social mobility (including links to the Social Mobility Commission); school food including free school meals; children and young people's mental health, online safety and preventing bullying in schools; policy to protect against serious violence.
Alex Burghart MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills strategy for post-16 education (jointly with Minister of State for Universities); technical education and skills including T Levels and qualifications review; apprenticeships including traineeships; further education workforce; further education provider market including quality and improvement and further education efficiency; adult education, including the National Retraining Scheme and basic skills; Institutes of Technology and National Colleges; reducing the number of young people who are not in education, employment or training; careers education, information and guidance including the Careers and Enterprise Company.
The Rt Hon. The Baroness Barran Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the School System free schools, university technical colleges and studio schools; academies and multi-academy trusts, including governance; faith schools; independent schools; home education and supplementary schools; intervention in underperforming schools, including trust capacity funds; school capital investment (including pupil place planning, new school places and school condition); counter extremism and integration in schools; safeguarding in schools and post-16 settings; school efficiency; departmental efficiency and commercial


The management board is made up of:

  • Permanent SecretarySusan Acland-Hood
  • Director-General, Social Care, Mobility and Disadvantage – Indra Morris
  • Director-General, Higher and Further Education Group – Paul Kett
  • Director-General, Early Years and Schools – Andrew McCully
  • Chief Financial and Operating Officer, Operations Group – Mike Green
  • Chief Executive, Education & Skills Funding Agency – Eileen Milner

Non-executive board members:[4]


As of 2 August 2016, the DfE has five main sites:[8]

  • The entrance to the Great Smith Street site
    Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London
  • Piccadilly Gate, Manchester
  • 2 St Paul's Place, Sheffield
  • Bishopsgate House, Darlington
  • Cheylesmore House, Coventry

Agencies and public bodies[edit]


Education and Skills Funding Agency[edit]

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)[9] was formed on 1 April 2017 following the merger of the Education Funding Agency and the Skills Funding Agency. Previously the Education Funding Agency (EFA) was responsible for distributing funding for state education in England for 3- to 19-year-olds, as well as managing the estates of schools, and colleges and the Skills Funding Agency was responsible for funding skills training for further education in England and running the National Apprenticeship Service and the National Careers Service. The EFA was formed on 1 April 2012 by bringing together the functions of two non-departmental public bodies, the Young People's Learning Agency and Partnerships for Schools.[10] The SFA was formed on 1 April 2010, following the closure of the Learning and Skills Council.[11] Eileen Milner is the agency's Chief Executive.[12]

Teaching Regulation Agency[edit]

The Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) is responsible for regulation of the teaching profession, including misconduct hearings.[13] Its predecessors include the National College for Teaching and Leadership (to 2018), the Teaching Agency (to 2013) and the Training and Development Agency for Schools (from 1994).

Standards and Testing Agency[edit]

The Standards and Testing Agency (STA) is responsible for developing and delivering all statutory assessments for school pupils in England.[14] It was formed on 1 October 2011 and took over the functions of the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency. The STA is regulated by the examinations regulator, Ofqual.[15]

Public bodies[edit]

The DfE is also supported by 10 public bodies:

Non-ministerial departments Ofqual; Ofsted
Executive non-departmental public bodies Equality and Human Rights Commission; Higher Education Funding Council for England; Office for Fair Access; Office of the Children's Commissioner; Student Loans Company
Advisory non-departmental public bodies School Teachers' Review Body
Other Office of the Schools Adjudicator


Education, youth and children's policy is devolved elsewhere in the UK. The department's main devolved counterparts are as follows:


Northern Ireland


National Curriculum 2014[edit]

The Department for Education released a new National Curriculum for schools in England for September 2014, which included 'Computing'.[18] Following Michael Gove's speech in 2012,[19] the subject of Information Communication Technology (ICT) has been disapplied and replaced by Computing. With the new curriculum, materials have been written by commercial companies, to support non-specialist teachers, for example, '100 Computing Lessons' by Scholastic. The Computing at Schools organisation[20] has created a 'Network of Teaching Excellence'to support schools with the new curriculum.[21]

Post-16 area reviews[edit]

In 2015, the Department announced a major restructuring of the further education sector, through 37 area reviews of post-16 provision.[22] The proposals were criticised by NUS Vice President for Further Education Shakira Martin for not sufficiently taking into account the impact on learners;[23][24] the Sixth Form Colleges' Association similarly criticised the reviews for not directly including providers of post-16 education other than colleges, such as school and academy sixth forms and independent training providers.[25]

Funding and grants[edit]

In 2018, The Department for Education confirmed their commitment to forming positive relationships with the voluntary and community sector.[26]

In 2020 the department began funding the National Tutoring Programme which employed private companies to deliver the tuition including at least one which uses children as tutors, paying them £1.57 per hour.[27] Tutors received up to £25 of the between £72 and £84 per hour the government paid the companies.[28]


  1. ^ "DfE Estimates Memoranda" (PDF). Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  2. ^ "Susan Acland-Hood".
  3. ^ a b "Top DfE job goes to acting boss Susan Acland-Hood".
  4. ^ a b "Department for Education". GOV.UK.
  5. ^ Fiveash, Kelly (19 October 2012), ICO: Education ministry BROKE the Data Protection Act, The Register, retrieved 7 December 2012
  6. ^ Matt Foster, New Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy swallows up DECC and BIS – full details and reaction, Civil Service World (14 July 2016).
  7. ^ "DfE monthly workforce management information: 2016 to 2017". GOV.UK.
  8. ^ Retrieved 2 August 2016. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ "Education and Skills Funding Agency". GOV.UK.
  10. ^ "The creation of the Education Funding Agency". Department for Education.
  11. ^ Skills Funding Agency, Annual Report and Accounts 2010–11, accessed 15 April 2017
  12. ^ Education and Skills Funding Agency, accessed 4 January 2018
  13. ^ "Teaching Regulation Agency". GOV.UK. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  14. ^ "Standards and Testing Agency". Department for Education.
  15. ^ "STA Feedback and complaints". Department for Education.
  16. ^ "Home". The Executive Office.
  17. ^ Welsh Government | Education and skills. Retrieved on 13 August 2013.
  18. ^ "National curriculum in England: computing programmes of study". GOV.UK.
  19. ^ "Michael Gove speech at the BETT Show 2012". GOV.UK.
  20. ^ "Computing at School".
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 April 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ [1] Department for Education. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  23. ^ Robertson, Alix (20 April 2016). "Shakira Martin re-elected as NUS vice president for FE". FE Week. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  24. ^ Offord, Paul (2 November 2016). "Student focus for Sir Vince Cable's FE comeback". FE Week. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  25. ^ Burke, Jude (8 July 2016). "MPs launch inquiry into post-16 area reviews". FE Week. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  26. ^ "Children England".
  27. ^ "UK tutoring scheme uses under-18s in Sri Lanka paid as little as £1.57 an hour". The Guardian. 19 March 2021. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  28. ^ "England's 'catch-up' tutors are being short-changed by private employers". The Guardian. 28 February 2021. Retrieved 19 March 2021.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

See also[edit]