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Types of school

Community schools

Community schools are those ran by the local council. They are not influenced by business or religious groups.

Academies

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.

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.

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.

Who can set up free schools?

Free schools are run on a not-for-profit basis and can be set up by groups like:

  • charities
  • universities
  • independent schools
  • community and faith groups

University technical colleges

University technical colleges are a type of free school, They specialise in subjects like engineering and construction - and teach these subjects along with business skills and using IT.

Pupils study academic subjects as well as practical subjects leading to technical qualifications. The curriculum is designed by the university and employers, who also provide work experience for students.

University technical colleges are sponsored by:

  • universities
  • employers
  • further education colleges

Studio schools

Studio schools are small schools - usually with around 300 pupils - delivering mainstream qualifications through project-based learning. This means working in realistic situations as well as learning academic subjects.

Students work with local employers and a personal coach, and follow a curriculum designed to give them the skills and qualifications they need in work, or to take up further education.

Private schools

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 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.

Special Schools

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, e.g. autistic spectrum disorders, visual impairment or speech, language and communication needs.

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