What departments are responsible for education & learning?
A range of different government departments and agencies play an integral role in the formulation of education policy and the implementation of initiatives that affect how the public learns, how teachers teach and how students study.
If you pursue a career in this area, you could find yourself working for one of the following organisations:
- Department for Education (DfE)
- Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)
- Skills Funding Agency (SFA)
- Education Funding Agency (EFA)
- National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL).
Why is education & learning so vital?
Since the birth of civilisation, education has been incredibly important to society. It doesn’t matter which party is in power, education is always a major government priority. Way back in 1996, Tony Blair summed up the importance of education rather well when he said: “Ask me my three main priorities for government and I will tell you: education, education, and education.”
The policies and initiatives that affect the UK’s education system have an impact on teaching at all levels, including pre-school, primary, secondary, further and higher education.
These policies affect the funding that students, schools and teachers receive; they have an impact on the quality of teaching and they influence the amount of opportunities that are available for people trying to access education and learning services.
The Department for Education (DfE) is a relatively new central government department, which works “to achieve a highly educated society in which opportunity is equal for children and young people, no matter what their background or family circumstances.”* This department has overall responsibility for the UK’s education system.
However, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) also has specific responsibility for developing policies and schemes that influence the UK’s further and higher education systems. Essentially, these guys aim to provide the public with the skills that they need to thrive in their future careers.
Both of these central government departments offer a range of full-time and part-time positions and every year they accept graduates through the Civil Service Fast Stream programme. Other external job vacancies within the organisation tend to be advertised on the DirectGov and Civil Service Jobs websites.
Funding in education is a major concern and, therefore, two government agencies are tasked with regulating the provision of funding for pupils, students and institutions, namely the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA).
The EFA focuses its efforts on the provision of funding for learners between the ages of three and 19, or the ages of three and 25 for those with learning difficulties and disabilities. The EFA is part of the DfE, so the graduate recruitment process will normally occur via the Civil Service Fast Stream programme.
The SFA concentrates on the adult learning and skills sector and is in partnership with BIF. It, therefore, handles its own recruitment process.
The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) was formed following the merger of the Teaching Agency and the National College for School Leadership. It is a government agency and has two key aims: “improving the quality of the education workforce and helping schools to help each other to improve.”*
Effectively, this agency is responsible for making sure that teaching in UK schools is of the highest possible standard through the provision of world-class training and development. As part of the DfE, the NCTL also recruits from the Civil Service Fast Stream programme.
The government departments and agencies that we’ve already mentioned are supported by various other organisations that provide quality assurance and inspect the many educational institutions in the UK, such as Ofsted and the Independent Schools Council. For more information on careers with these organisations, check out the Education Regulation: Examining, Inspection & Policy subsector now!
What will my role be?
The civil servants that work in this area help to make the UK’s education system the best it can possibly be. If you pursue a career in this area, you could be providing vital support to education ministers and policy-makers by conducting statistical or social research, and offering advice and guidance on the formulation of education policies.
Alternatively, you could be supporting the decision makers that regulate and control the education system through the provision of administrative or I.T. support, or by taking on a role in a corporate services department and focusing on HR, marketing, finance or legal work.
For more information about other careers in education, check out the Teaching & Education sector now!