Department for Education

The Department for Education (DfE) is a department of Her Majesty's Government responsible for child protection, education (compulsory, further and higher education), apprenticeships and wider skills in England.

Department for Education
Department overview
Preceding Department
HeadquartersSanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London, England, United Kingdom
Annual budget£58.2 billion (2015-16)[1]
Ministers responsible
  • Rt Hon. Gavin Williamson MP, Secretary of State for Education
  • Rt Hon. Nick Gibb MP, Minister of State for School Standards
  • Vacant, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills
  • Vacant, Minister of State for Universities & Science
  • Vacant since 26 July 2019, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education
  • Lord Agnew of Oulton, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the School System
Department executive
  • Jonathan Slater, Permanent Secretary
Child agencies
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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 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.[2]

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.[3]

Predecessor bodies


The department is led by the Secretary of State for Education. The Permanent Secretary is Jonathan Slater. 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.[4] 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. Gavin Williamson MP Secretary of State Overall responsibility for the department; early years; children's social care; teachers' pay; the school curriculum; school improvement; academies and free schools; further education; higher education; apprenticeships and skills.
The Rt Hon. Nick Gibb MP Minister of State for School Standards Recruitment and retention of teachers and school leaders (including initial teacher training, qualifications and professional developments); supporting a high-quality teaching profession (including links to National College for Teaching and Leadership); reducing teacher workload; admissions and school transport; national funding formula for schools and school revenue funding; curriculum, assessment and qualifications (including links to Ofqual); school accountability (including links to Ofsted); personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), relationships education, relationships and sex education (RSE) and children and young people's mental health; preventing bullying in schools; behaviour and attendance, exclusions and alternative provision policy.
Chris Skidmore FRHistS FSA FRSA MP Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation (jointly with BEIS) TBC
Kemi Badenoch MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families Children's social care including child protection, children in care, adoption, care leavers, social work, local authority performance and family law; special educational needs including high needs funding; education policy in response to the race disparity audit; safeguarding in schools; disadvantaged pupils - including pupil premium and pupil premium plus; school sport, healthy pupils and school food, including free school meals; early years policy including inspection, regulation and literacy and numeracy; childcare policy, inspection and regulation; delivery of 30 hours free childcare offer; social mobility including opportunity areas; DfE contribution to cross-government work to tackle rough sleeping.
Lord Agnew of Oulton Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System Free schools, university technical colleges and studio schools; academies and multi-academy trusts; faith schools; independent schools; home education and supplementary schools; intervention in underperforming schools; school improvement (including teaching school alliances, national and local leaders of education and school improvement funds); school governance; school capital investment (including new school places, school condition, land and playing fields); counter extremism and integration in schools, further education colleges and sixth-form colleges.


The management board is made up of:

  • Permanent Secretary - Jonathan Slater
  • Director-General, Social Care, Mobility and Equalities - Indra Morris
  • Director-General, Education Standards - Paul Kett
  • Director-General, Infrastructure and Funding - Andrew McCully
  • Director-General, Higher and Further Education - Philippa Lloyd
  • Chief Financial and Operating Officer, Operations Group - Mike Green
  • Chief Executive, Education & Skills Funding Agency - Eileen Milner

Non-executive board members:[5]


As of 2 August 2016, the DfE has five main sites:[6]

  • Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London
  • Piccadilly Gate, Manchester
  • 2 St Paul's Place, Sheffield
  • Bishops Gate House, Darlington
  • Earlsdon Park, Coventry

The DfE is due to vacate Sanctuary Buildings in September 2017, relocating staff to the Old Admiralty Building[7]

Agencies and public bodies


Education and Skills Funding Agency

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)[8] 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 3-19 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.[9] The SFA was formed on 1 April 2010, following the closure of the Learning and Skills Council.[10] Eileen Milner is the agency's Chief Executive.[11]

National College for Teaching and Leadership

The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) is responsible for administering the training of new and existing teachers in England, as well as the regulation of the teaching profession and offers headteachers, school leaders and senior children's services leaders opportunities for professional development. It was established on 1 April 2013, when the Teaching Agency (which replaced the Training and Development Agency for Schools and parts of the General Teaching Council for England) merged with the National College for School Leadership. The National College for Teaching and Leadership was replaced by the Department for Education and Teaching Regulation Agency in April 2018.

Standards and Testing Agency

The Standards and Testing Agency (STA) is responsible for developing and delivering all statutory assessments for school pupils in England.[12] 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.[13]

Public bodies

The DfE is also supported by 10 public bodies:

Non-ministerial departmentsOfqual; Ofsted
Executive non-departmental public bodiesEquality 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 bodiesSchool Teachers' Review Body
OtherGovernment Equalities Office; 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

The Department for Education released a new National Curriculum for schools in England for September 2014, which included 'Computing'.[16] Following Michael Gove's speech in 2012,[17] 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[18] has created a 'Network of Teaching Excellence'to support schools with the new curriculum.[19]

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.[20] The proposals were criticised by NUS Vice President for Further Education Shakira Martin for not sufficiently taking into account the impact on learners;[21][22] 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.[23]

Funding and grants

In 2018, The Department for Education confirmed their commitment to forming positive relationships with the voluntary and community sector. [24]


  1. "DfE Estimates Memoranda" (PDF). Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  2. Fiveash, Kelly (19 October 2012), ICO: Education ministry BROKE the Data Protection Act, The Register, retrieved 7 December 2012
  3. 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).
  4. "DfE monthly workforce management information: 2016 to 2017". GOV.UK.
  5. "Department for Education". GOV.UK.
  6. accessed 02/08/2016
  7. "Historic government building gets new future". GOV.UK.
  8. "Education and Skills Funding Agency". GOV.UK.
  9. "The creation of the Education Funding Agency". Department for Education.
  10. Skills Funding Agency, Annual Report and Accounts 2010-11, accessed 15 April 2017
  11. Education and Skills Funding Agency, accessed 4 January 2018
  12. "Standards and Testing Agency". Department for Education.
  13. "STA Feedback and complaints". Department for Education.
  14. "Home". The Executive Office.
  15. Welsh Government | Education and skills. Retrieved on 2013-08-13.
  16. "National curriculum in England: computing programmes of study". GOV.UK.
  17. "Michael Gove speech at the BETT Show 2012". GOV.UK.
  18. "Computing At School".
  19. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 April 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. Department for Education. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  21. Robertson, Alix (20 April 2016). "Shakira Martin re-elected as NUS vice president for FE". FE Week. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  22. Offord, Paul (2 November 2016). "Student focus for Sir Vince Cable's FE comeback". FE Week. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  23. Burke, Jude (8 July 2016). "MPs launch inquiry into post-16 area reviews". FE Week. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  24. "Children England".

Further reading

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