Types of Schools in the UK

Types of school in the UK

All children in the UK between the ages of 5 and 16.are entitled to a free place at a state school. There are many types of state school; they are characterised by their management, their ownership and how they are funded.

State Schools

The following state schools are all required to follow the national curriculum:

Community schools
Primary SchoolCommunity schools are controlled and owned by their local authority and not influenced by business or religious groups. They strive to develop strong links with the local community, e.g. by offering use of their facilities, providing childcare services and adult learning classes.

Foundation schools
Foundation schools are run by an elected governing body which also owns the school buildings and land.
Foundation schools are funded by their local education authority.

Trust schools
Trust schools are a type of foundation school which have developed a partnership (known as a charitable trust) between the elected governing body and an outside organisation. The trust is often either an educational charity or a business. The trust owns the school; the elected governing body runs the school.

Voluntary schools
Voluntary schools are also known as religious or faith schools. A charity, usually a religious organisation, owns the school buildings and land. There are two types of voluntary schools: Voluntary-controlled schools are managed and funded by their local authority;Voluntary-aided schools appoint a governing body to run the school. The funding of these schools is provided by the local authority, the governing body and the charity.

The following state schools do not have to follow the national curriculum:

Free schools
Free schools are funded by the government but aren’t run by the local council. They have more control over how they do things, e.g. set their own pay and conditions for staff and change the length of school terms and the school day.

Free schools are run on a ‘not-for-profit’ basis and can be set up by groups like charities, universities, independent schools and businesses.

AcademyAcademies are publicly funded independent schools. Although they don’t have to follow the national curriculum and can set their own term times, they have to follow the same rules on admissions, special educational needs and exclusions as other state schools.

Academies are funded directly by central government. They are run by an academy trust which employs the staff. Some academies have sponsors such as businesses, universities, other schools, faith groups or voluntary groups. Sponsors are responsible for improving the performance of their schools.

Grammar schools
Grammar schools are the only state secondary schools that are allowed by law to select all their pupils on the grounds of high academic ability. They only exist in Northern Ireland and parts of England. Most grammar schools use the11-plus examination to determine admission.

Grammar schools may be run by the council, a foundation body or a trust. They may also be an academy. The creation of new grammar schools was banned in 1998, however the current government have stated they have plans to re-introduce them. Not all selective grammar schools have ‘grammar’ in their name, e.g. Bournemouth School.

Many schools with ‘grammar’ in their title are not state schools and charge ‘grammar school fees’, e.g. Kingston Grammar School, London. These schools are actually fee-paying independent schools. Many of these schools have charitable status and will offer assistance for the paying of grammar school fees with means-tested bursaries.

Private schools

Private schools are also known as ‘independent schools’. They charge students fees to attend.

They have complete control of all aspects of the way the school is run, but they must be registered with the government and are inspected regularly. Many private schools have charitable status and therefore offer scholarships and means-tested bursaries.

Senior private schools tend to be selective.

Public Schools

eton. © Copyright Julian Osley and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Eton © Copyright Julian Osley
All Public Schools were founded centuries ago. They gained the name ‘public’ because they provided education ‘to the public’ when they were first established. Essentially they are privately funded schools, with a lot of history.

Public schools are inclined to be less affordable than other private schools and are regarded as very prestigious. It is often very difficult to gain admission to these schools due to strong competition.

Preparatory Schools
Preparatory schools were originally created in England and Wales in the early 19th century as boarding schools to prepare boys for leading public schools, such as Eton and Winchester.

They are now found in all parts of the United Kingdom and are not exclusively boarding schools. They are fee-paying independent primary school catering primarily for children up to the age of 13. Today, prep schools prepare students for the Common Entrance Examination in order to obtain admission into independent senior schools.