Education in England is overseen by the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Local authorities (LAs) take responsibility for implementing policy for public education and state schools at a local level.
The education system is divided into early years (ages 3–4), primary education (ages 4–11), secondary education (ages 11–18) and tertiary education (ages 18+).
Full-time education is compulsory for all children aged between 5 and 17 (from 2013, and up to 18 from 2015), either at school or otherwise, with a child beginning primary education during the school year he or she turns 5. Students may then continue their secondary studies for a further two years (sixth form), leading most typically to A-level qualifications, although other qualifications and courses exist, including Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) qualifications, the International Baccalaureate (IB) and the Cambridge Pre-U. The leaving age for compulsory education was raised to 18 by the Education and Skills Act 2008. The change takes effect in 2013 for 16-year-olds and 2015 for 17-year-olds. State-provided schooling and sixth form education is paid for by taxes. England also has a tradition of independent schooling, but parents may choose to educate their children by any suitable means.
Higher education often begins with a three-year bachelor’s degree. Postgraduate degrees include master’s degrees, either taught or by research, and the doctorate, a research degree that usually takes at least three years. Universities require a Royal Charter in order to issue degrees, and all but one are financed by the state via tuition fees, which cost up to £9,000 per academic year for English, Welsh and EU students.