Pathway to Skills

United Kingdom - Country Summary

Population Literacy rate GDP per capita Unemployment rate Inflation rate Ethnic Groups (%)
(in millions) (%) ($) (%) (%) White, Black, Indian, Pakistani, Mixed, Other
60.8 99 31,800 2.9 3 White 92.1, Black 2, Indian 1.8, Pakistani 1.3, Mixed 1.2, other 1.6 (2001 Census)


The United Kingdom education system consists of key stages 1-4. Key stages 1 and 2 are taught in infant and Primary schools, and Key stages 3 and 4 in Secondary schools. This completes compulsory education in the UK and covers ages five to sixteen. Students can opt to stay in education at Secondary School for a further 2 years; this stage is unofficially known as Key Stage 5 and provides entry to UK higher Education, or specific employment opportunities.


The United Kingdom is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy comprising four constituent countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, with Elizabeth II as head of state. The Crown Dependencies of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, formally possessions of the Crown, are not part of the UK but form a federacy with it.

Since 1998, the devolution process has transferred certain legislative powers from the central government in Westminster to the Scottish parliament and the Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies. Although a number of powers - relating, for example, to national security, the constitution and foreign affairs - remain the reserve of the national government, education policy is now largely controlled by the devolved authorities.

In practice, the education systems of England, Wales and Northern Ireland remain very similar and share a common framework.

Economics / Resources

For over twenty-five years, the British economy has corresponded with what has been described by some since the 1980s as the Anglo-Saxon model, focusing on the principles of liberalisation, the free market, and low taxation and regulation. Based on market exchange rates, the United Kingdom is the fifth largest economy in the world, and the second largest in Europe after Germany.

The service sector of the United Kingdom is dominated by financial services, especially in banking and insurance. London is the world's largest financial centre with the London Stock Exchange, the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange, and the Lloyd's of London insurance market all based in The City.

The British manufacturing sector, however, has greatly diminished, relative to the economy as a whole, since World War II. It is still a significant part of the economy, but only accounted for one-sixth of national output in 2003. The British motor industry is a significant part of this sector, although it has diminished with the collapse of MG Rover and most of the industry is foreign owned. Civil and defence aircraft production is led by the United Kingdom's largest aerospace firm, BAE Systems, and the continental European firm EADS, the owners of Airbus. Rolls-Royce holds a major share of the global aerospace engines market. The chemical and pharmaceutical industry is also strong in the UK, with the world's second and sixth largest pharmaceutical firms (GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, respectively) being based in the UK.