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Educational System in UK


The Education system in the United Kingdom is a well-established tried and tested system, that is primarily overseen by the Department of Education. Over 90% of all students in the United Kingdom go to public schools. These schools are state funded. There are 36,300 public schools across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Over 8.5 million children attend these schools. All schools in Britain are funded through Library boards and education boards.

Education Facts

Some interesting facts about education in Britain:

  • Full-time education is compulsory for all children between the ages of five and sixteen
  • The last age for leaving compulsory education was increased to eighteen in 2008 under a government act
  • State schools are publicly funded and are so free for all children
  • The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills also contribute to the overseeing process of Education in Britain.
  • Typical schools in the United Kingdom are co-educational. Primary schools are almost always gender inclusive.
  • Only in the secondary schools is there a chance of coming across a single sex school.
  • Compulsory education ends the minute the students have taken the GCSE examinations.

Broad Level Categorization

Education in the United Kingdom is divided broadly into four categories:

  • Primary Education
  • Secondary Education
  • Further Education
  • Higher Education

Primary and Secondary Education

School education is divided up into four categories:

  • 5-7 years - Key Stage Category 1
  • 7-11 years - Key Stage Category 2
  • 11-14 years - Key Stage Category 3
  • 14-16 years - Key Stage Category 4

Independent Schools

About 7% of the child population of Britain go to privately run independent schools. Some of these schools may be boarding schools or some may be day-scholar schools. Either way, these schools do charge for education, as opposed to the free education children would otherwise receive at public schools. Typically, independent schools have been single-sex schools. However, off late, there has been an increasing trend in co-educational schools.

Further Education

Further Education in Britain is managed by what is known as the ‘Learning and Skills Council’ (LSC). It is funded by the government and aims are improving the overall education rates above and beyond the K-16. Further education primarily consists of vocational courses to equip the students with necessary skill sets for them to land themselves reasonable employment.

Higher Education

Higher education can be either:

  • Undergraduate
  • Postgraduate
  • Doctoral

Undergraduate: Students usually enter when they are about eighteen years of age and pursue a three year program. Most of the undergraduate education is also publicly financed. The student may need to only pay a top-up fees and it will be a relatively small amount. The only university that’s an exception to this is the University of Buckingham. The degree that the student receives at the end of this is known as a bachelor’s degree.

Postgraduate: These courses are mostly paid courses. They may last one year or two - depending on the subject. These courses are known as masters courses.

Doctoral: This may take from anywhere between three years and five. This program is a research program known as a PhD.


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