Types of School

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Types of School

There are several different types of mainstream schools.  These schools are regularly inspected by the Office for Standards in Education ( Ofsted).   The following types of school are described in the next three pages:  Community schools; Voluntary-aided schools; Foundation schools; Academies; Technology Colleges; Maintained schools; Comprehensive schools; Voluntary-controlled schools; Partially selective schools; Beacon schools; Specialist schools; Religious schools; Grammar schools; and Independent schools.

Community Schools:  The Council is responsible for the arrangements for admitting students.  Community schools are those schools run by the LA.  Representatives of the LA will have a majority on the governing body, and the LA is the admissions authority, responsible for admissions to all community schools within its boundaries.  Community schools usually accept a comprehensive intake and are unlikely to be affiliated with a church or religious group as such schools usually have voluntary aided status.

Voluntary-aided Schools:  These are typically church, or faith, schools at which school governors are responsible for admitting students.  They have their own admissions criteria which usually give priority to church members.  All of these schools require a supplementary application form.  The majority of church schools are voluntary aided, which means they are funded by the LA but not controlled by it.  The foundation which runs the school (for example the Church of England, or the local Roman Catholic diocese) maintains a majority on the governing body which, in turn, is the admissions authority for the school.  See also ‘Religious, or faith, Schools’.

Foundation Schools:  The school governors are responsible for admitting students.  These schools are managed by the governing body which has its own admissions criteria.  Foundation schools are, with very few exceptions, schools which opted out of local authority control and became grant-maintained under the policy of the Conservative government pre-1997.

Academies:  A new type of school drawing on the expertise of their sponsors, in partnership with the Department for Education and Skills, and the local authority, to help develop their own distinctive ethos and mission.

Technology Colleges:  A technology college is geared towards science, technology, and the world of work, and offers a wide range of vocational qualifications as well as A levels.

Maintained schools:  These are state schools that are funded by the government out of public funds, as opposed to independent schools, referred-to variously as private or fee-paying, where parents have to foot the bill.

Comprehensive schools:  These are open to children of all abilities.  Their admissions criteria must not give preferential treatment to children who are more able academically.  However, applying to a comprehensive does not mean that your child will not have to sit an entrance test.  In many areas all children are asked to sit tests and the results are used to divide applicants into ‘bands’ of ability.  Schools argue that this ‘banding’ allows them to ensure that their intake has an even spread of children of all abilities.  What it means for parents is that a school may decide that a particular ability band is oversubscribed even if there are places left in the school but earmarked for children with a different level of ability.

Mixed or single-sex schools?  
Single-sex schools remain a popular option for many parents who feel that segregated schooling for boys and girls is inherently better.

Free School?  
The government funds these but the local council does not run them.  They have more control over how they do things.  Free schools are ‘all-ability’ schools so do not have selection processes like grammar schools, and do not have to follow the national curriculum.  They are run on a not-for-profit basis and can be set up by a group such as a charity, university, community or faith group, teachers, parents or businesses.  There are two types of free school – university technical colleges and studio schools. These focus on key work skills and/or qualifications so that pupils are well prepared to enter the world of work or go on to further study.