Types of Schools in UK
All children in England between the ages of 5 and 16 are entitled to a free place at a state school.
Most state schools have to follow the national curriculum. The most common ones are:
- community schools, controlled by the local council and not influenced by business or religious groups
- foundation schools and voluntary schools, which have more freedom to change the way they do things than community schools
- academies, run by a governing body, independent from the local council – they can follow a different curriculum
- grammar schools, run by the council, a foundation body or a trust – they select all or most of their pupils based on academic ability and there is often an exam to get in
Special schools with pupils aged 11 and older can specialise in 1 of the 4 areas of special educational needs:
- communication and interaction
- cognition and learning
- social, emotional and mental health
- sensory and physical needs
Schools can further specialise within these categories to reflect the special needs they help with, for example Autistic spectrum disorders, visual impairment, or speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).
Faith schools have to follow the national curriculum, but they can choose what they teach in religious studies.
Faith academies don’t have to teach the national curriculum and have their own admissions processes.
Free schools are funded by the government but aren’t run by the local council. They have more control over how they do things.
They’re ‘all-ability’ schools, so can’t use academic selection processes like a grammar school.
Free schools can:
- set their own pay and conditions for staff
- change the length of school terms and the school day
They don’t have to follow the national curriculum.
Academies are publicly funded independent schools.
Academies don’t have to follow the national curriculum and can set their own term times. They still have to follow the same rules on admissions, special educational needs and exclusions as other state schools.
Academies get money direct from the government, not the local council. They’re 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.
City technology colleges and ‘ the city college for the technology of the arts’ are independent schools in urban areas that are free to go to. They’re funded by central government – companies can also contribute.
City technology colleges emphasise teaching science and technology.
The city college for the technology of the arts teaches technology in its application of performing and creative arts, for example by offering interactive digital design courses.
State boarding schools provide free education but charge fees for boarding. Most state boarding schools are academies, some are free schools and some are run by local councils.
State boarding schools give priority to children who have a particular need to board and will assess children’s suitability for boarding.
Private schools (also known as ‘independent schools’) charge fees to attend instead of being funded by the government. Pupils don’t have to follow the national curriculum.
All private schools must be registered with the government and are inspected regularly.
Reports on private schools
All school reports are published online by the organisation responsible for inspecting them. Find out from the school which organisation inspects them.
Half of all independent schools are inspected by Ofsted.
The Independent Schools Inspectorate inspects schools that are members of the associations that form the Independent Schools Council.
Some other schools are inspected by the School Inspection Service.
Special educational needs
There are also private schools which specialise in teaching children with special educational needs.