The UK’s Education System

The UK’s education system is a devolved one where different governments are responsible for the curriculum in place in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The UK government is directly responsible for the English education system, while the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments are responsible for their own respective jurisdictions. Typically, children will go to play school and preschool at age three, and the relevant national curriculum kicks in at age five and above. Children younger than five years of age are usually referred to collectively as early years. As youngsters grow, they progress through primary school, secondary school, further education and higher education. The law of the lands stipulate that children must be enrolled in full time education between the age of five and 16, though the age is lower in Northern Ireland, starting at four.

The UK offers free education to all children, and was traditionally regarded as a very high performing country in terms of results achieved. It also has a public school system which includes educational institutions such as Eton. Although these institutions are called public schools, one has to pay to receive an education there and the fees are often very high.

Such schools often produce the political class in the UK. There is also a large number of religious schools, most often affiliated with the Catholic or Church of England religions. Most schools are co-ed, meaning that boys and girls are educated together from primary school all the way through secondary school.

Once they finish secondary school, students can opt for college or vocational school and then university. Once they finish reading for a degree, students can read for a Masters degree or a post-grad.

The UK’s education system has been creaking under its own weight of late and there are plans to overhaul the funding system in 2018 to repair old schools, build new ones as catchment areas continue to change, and to recruit new teachers who are in short supply. There is also an issue with the number of students per classroom.