Education statistics

Education statistics

They say that school days are the best days of your life, with school trips and lunchtimes spent with your mates. As well as the good times, being a student comes with not so enjoyable exams and for some people it means living month to month. Nevertheless, the UK education system is considered one of the best in the world, so we did some research about the schools in the UK and exam results.

Quick stats

  • In 2017/18 there were 32,120 schools in the UK, which was 630 fewer than in 2010/11.
  • The amount spent on schools using public sector money was £89.4 billion in 2019.
  • This is a 108% increase on the expenditure in 2000.
  • In 2019, 97.9% passed their GSCEs.
  • Over a quarter (26.5%) of A level students received Bs, making it the most common A level grade.
  • In 2016/17, the 10,260,000 pupils made up a sixth of the UK population (16%) at the time.

Number of schools in the UK

There are currently a total of 32,120 schools in the UK (2018/19), having decreased by 630 schools from 2010/11. There are significantly more primary schools than any other type of school, with there being 20,840 primary schools in the UK. In fact, there are nearly 5 times more primary schools than secondary schools (4,190) and almost 7 times more primary schools than nurseries (3,040).

Type of school Number of schools in 2017/18
Nurseries 3,040
Primary 20,840
Secondary 4,190
Other 4,050

Expenditure on schools in the UK

Over the past 19 years (2000/01–2018/19) the amount of public sector spending on education has almost doubled (1.9x). In 2000/01, £45.9 billion was spent compared to the £89.4 billion that was spent this year (2018/19). Public sector spending on education reached its peak in 2010/11 when £91.5 billion was spent. In 2017/18 secondary schools received £43.9 billion, which is the largest amount of funding any area received and 1.41 times more than pre-primary and primary schools.

Type Public sector expenditure on education in the UK in 2018/19 (in millions)
Secondary education £43,913
Pre-primary and primary education £31,095
Tertiary education £4,621
Subsidiary services to education £3,557
Education n.e.c.* £2,584
R&D education £2,259
Education not definable by level £789
Post-secondary non-tertiary education £607

Exam results in the UK

With millions of students sitting GCSEs and A levels in the UK each year we’re always hearing about their importance and pass rates, but how many people are passing these exams? We’ve put together a breakdown of the results students in the UK are receiving for their GCSE and A level exams.


  • In 2019 over 4.6 million 16-year-olds took their GCSE exams.
  • Of these students, 97.9% received a pass grade (9-4).
  • And 59.1% passed in English or maths.
  • Almost half (47%) of GCSE students take a modern language.

Read more in our dedicated GCSEs page.

A levels

At A level passes are less common, with 22.2% receiving non-pass grades. From the graphic below, you can see that the most common grade is a B (26.5%) while only 8.2% of grades handed out are A*s, the highest grade available at A level.

Read more in our dedicated A levels page.
Grade Percentage of students receiving a grade
A* 8.2%
A 18.4%
B 26.5%
C 24%
D 14.6%
E 6.1%
Other 2.2%


Apprenticeships offer an alternative to full-time education at university or college. Instead of learning the material, apprenticeships allow you to work on the job, so you’re getting paid while you learn about the industry.

The most popular apprenticeship to start in 2017/18 was Business, Administration and Law, which makes up exactly two thirds of all apprenticeships in that year.

19- to 24-year-olds

made up 34% of apprentices in 2017/18.
Sector subject Number of apprenticeships
Business, Administration and Law 111,000
Health, Public Services and Care 88,000
Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies 59,000
Retail and Commercial Enterprise 54,000
Construction, Planning and Built Environment 23,000
Information and Communication Technology 18,000
Leisure, Travel and Tourism 9,000
Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Care 7,000
Education and Training 6,000
Arts, Media and Publishing 1,000


  • House of Commons Library
  • British Education Suppliers Association
  • UK Department for Education

Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Matt Mckenna
UK communications manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806

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