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Last Updated: Monday, 16 February, 2004, 14:16 GMT
Education on the internet
A guide to the websites of the main education departments and organisations in the UK.

BBC sites

Education news from the BBC: This is the section of BBC News Online that you are looking at now. If you navigated to it from elsewhere, this is the link to bookmark to return to our main, constantly updated index.

BBC Learning - a different department - provides online educational advice and activities for schools, colleges and adults, students, teachers and parents, as well as information on BBC education-related TV and radio programmes.

External sites

Government education departments

The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) provides information on current legislation and initiatives affecting the education system, as well as advice for parents and school governors. In addition, it provides information on the National Curriculum and lists the details of every secondary school and local education authority in England.

The National Assembly for Wales provides details of the structure of the education system in Wales, as well as new education initiatives.

The Scottish Executive's education section provides access to its published information and to press releases and links to external information.

The Department of Education for Northern Ireland gives details of the structure of the education system in Northern Ireland, as well as new education initiatives.

The The National College for School Leadership provides career-long learning and development opportunities, professional and practical support for existing and aspiring school leaders in England.

Information and communication technology

The National Grid for Learning (free registration) provides information on the government's drive to connect all schools and is a gateway to other linked resources including the 'virtual teacher centres' for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Becta is the government's lead agency for ICT in education.

Qualifications and assessment

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) has information about the current structure of qualifications and assessment for both academic and vocational subjects in England.

The Qualifications, Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales/Awdurdod Cymwysterau, Cwricwlwm ac Asesu Cymru is the principal advisory body on all aspects of the school curriculum, examinations, assessment and vocational qualifications in Wales.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is responsible for most qualifications in Scotland, ranging from Standard Grade to Higher Grade. It includes information on current education and training issues in Scotland, as well as offering links to Scottish schools, colleges and universities.

The Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment was set up by government to provide advice on and support for what is taught in schools and colleges in Northern Ireland and how it is assessed.

Awdurdod Cymwysterau, Cwricwlwm ac Asesu Cymru/the Qualifications, Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales (Accac) is the National Assembly for Wales's main advisory body on all aspects of the school curriculum, examinations, assessment and vocational qualifications.

The Welsh Joint Education Committee/Cyd-bwyllgor Addysg Cymru provides a range of educational services which include academic and vocational qualifications.


The Teacher Training Agency (TTA) was established to improve the quality of teaching, raise the standards of teacher education and training, and promote teaching as a profession.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland, established in 1965, is the statutory body overseeing teaching standards in Scotland.

The General Teaching Council for England, set up in 2000, is the English equivalent. Separate councils are being established for Wales and Northern Ireland.


The Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) gives details of the English inspection agency's remit and organisation, as well as an overview of its aims and achievements and a database of inspection reports on schools and local education authorities.

Inspections are carried out in Northern Ireland by the education department's Education and Training Inspectorate.

In Scotland, Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools inspect and publish reports on a wide range of educational establishments, including pre-school centres, nursery, primary, secondary and special schools, further education colleges, teacher education and community education.

HM Chief Inspector of Schools in Wales renamed her office Estyn - meaning "extend" or "stretch". See the Welsh Assembly site.

Independent and boarding schools

The Independent Schools Council Information Service has information on a majority of independent schools in the UK, with details of more than 1,300.

The Boarding Schools' Association promotes "the qualities of boarding life" provided by all types of boarding schools, including state boarding schools.

Special education

The National Association for Special Educational Needs aims to promote the education, training, advancement and development of all those with special educational needs in the UK. It has over 11,500 members and produces a number of specialist journals.

The Independent Panel for Special Education Advice is a volunteer-based organisation that offers free advice on local education authorities' legal duties to assess and provide for children with special educational needs.

The Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education is an educational charity giving information and advice about inclusive education and related issues, and campaigning for "an end to segregated education".

The Department for Education and Skills maintains a centre to provide advice and materials for teachers, parents and others interested in or working with children with special educational needs.

In Scotland the Special Educational Needs Advisory Forum meets several times a year to offer advice on the development and implementation of policies to improve SEN provision. Enquire is the independent national special educational needs information and advice service.

Home education

Several organisations exist to help those educating their children out of school, such as Education Otherwise, the Home Education Advisory Service and Home Education UK.

Further education

The Association of Colleges represents the interests of the 485 further and adult education and sixth form colleges in England and Wales.

The Learning and Skills Council is responsible for funding and planning post-compulsory education and training in England.

The Further Education Funding Council for Wales has online publications and lists of all FE institutions in Wales.

The Scottish Further Education Unit serves Scotland's FE community.

The Association of Northern Ireland Colleges represents the 17 colleges in Northern Ireland.

The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (Niace) sees its role as advancing the interests of adult learners and potential learners in England and Wales.

Higher education

The Higher Education and Research Opportunities in the UK (Hero) site is the official portal to higher education, with a clickable map and profiles of all universities and higher education colleges.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) is the central organisation through which applications from across the UK are processed for entry to full-time undergraduate courses, HND and university diplomas. Its website provides access to undergraduate courses offered at universities in the UK, as well as the entry requirements.

The summary report of the Dearing committee into higher education

Universities UK - formerly the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals - is made up of the executive heads of all UK universities.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) funds teaching and research in universities and colleges in England.

The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) funds teaching and research in universities and colleges in Wales.

The Scottish Higher Education Funding Council (SHEFC) provides financial support for teaching, research and associated activities in Scottish higher education institutions.

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) exists to review the performance of universities and colleges of higher education.

BUBL is a national information service for higher education.

The The Independent Review of Higher Education Pay and Conditions (the Bett Committee) report.

The National Union of Students. Nearly 900 individual students' unions are affiliated to the NUS, which campaigns on student issues and provides research, training, legal advice - and cheap beer.

Lifelong learning

Lifelong Learning from the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) is designed to encourage, promote and develop lifelong learning.

The National Institute for Adult and Continuing Education (NIACE) provides information on its services and activities throughout England and Wales.

The Department for Employment and Learning explains the system in Northern Ireland.


The government Connexions service provides confidential advice, support and information for everyone in England aged between 13 and 19, not only about careers and learning but also other matters such as health and relationships.

The Higher Education Careers Services Unit provides a database of graduate employers and job vacancies throughout the UK and Eire, as well as information on postgraduate courses and research.

CanDo is for disabled university students and graduates. It is designed to provide specialised careers information to help disabled graduates in making the transition from university to work.

Trades unions and associations
Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL)
Association of University Teachers (AUT)
Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS)
Headteachers' Association of Scotland
National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT)
National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT)
National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE)
National Union of Teachers (NUT)
Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) / Nursery Nurses (Pann)
Secondary Heads Association (SHA)
Unison education section.
The National Primary Heads Association is not a trade union but aims to speak for pupils' interests.

Government legislation in full

Copies of recently-passed laws can be found on Her Majesty's Stationery Office site:

Education (Schools) Act 1997

School Standards and Framework Act 1998.

Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998.

Education Act 2002.


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