Department for Education
Department for Education
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Department for Education

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Department for Education

Department for Education

Politics and Administration

Description

The Department for Education (DFE) is the UK government department responsible for child protection, education (compulsory, further and higher education), apprenticeships and wider skills in England.

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 current Secretary of State for Education is Gavin Williamson MP. Susan Acland-Hood is serving as the current Permanent Secretary.

History

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.

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.

Predecessor bodies

  • Committee of the Privy Council on Education, 1839–1899
  • Education Department, 1856–1899
  • Board of Education, 1899–1944
  • Ministry of Education, 1944–1964
  • Department of Education and Science, 1964–1992
  • Department for Education, 1992–1995
  • Department for Education and Employment (DfEE), 1995–2001
  • Department for Education and Skills (DfES), 2001–2007
  • Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), 2007–2010

Responsibilities

The department is led by the Secretary of State for Education. The Permanent Secretary from December 2020 is Susan Acland-Hood. 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. In 2015–16, the DfE has a budget of £58.2bn, which includes £53.6bn resource spending and £4.6bn of capital investments.

Agencies and public bodies

Agencies

Education and Skills Funding Agency

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) 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. The SFA was formed on 1 April 2010, following the closure of the Learning and Skills Council. Eileen Milner is the agency's Chief Executive.

Teaching Regulation Agency

The Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) is responsible for regulation of the teaching profession, including misconduct hearings. 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

The Standards and Testing Agency (STA) is responsible for developing and delivering all statutory assessments for school pupils in England. 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.

Public bodies

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

Devolution

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

Scotland

  • Scottish Government – Learning and Justice Directorates

Northern Ireland

  • Department of Education
  • Executive Office (children and young people)

Wales

  • Welsh Government – Department for Education and Skills

National Curriculum 2014

The Department for Education released a new National Curriculum for schools in England for September 2014, which included 'Computing'. Following Michael Gove's speech in 2012, 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" Scholastic. The Computing at Schools organisation has created a 'Network of Teaching Excellence'to support schools with the new curriculum.

Post-16 area reviews

In 2015, the Department announced a major restructuring of the further education sector, through 37 area reviews of post-16 provision. The proposals were criticised by NUS Vice President for Further Education Shakira Martin for not sufficiently taking into account the impact on learners; 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.

Funding and grants

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

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. Tutors received up to £25 of the between £72 and £84 per hour the government paid the companies.

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