Types of state school

What are the different types of state school and what are their obligations?

'Maintained' or 'state' schools are terms which describe state funded schools. There are different types of maintained/state schools:


  1. Community schools are controlled by the local council and not influenced by business or religious groups. The local council employs the school's staff, owns the school's premises and land, and has primary responsibility for admissions. These schools must follow the Department of Education's School Admissions Code. They must also follow clear rules which apply to all state schools about support for children with special needs and how school exclusions are managed. Teachers must have qualified teacher status.

  2. Foundation schools are funded by the local council but are run by a governing body. The governing body employs the staff, owns the premises and land (unless this is owned by a charitable foundation) and has primary responsibility for admissions. The Foundation appoints a minority of governors. Teachers must have qualified teacher status. These schools must follow the Department for Education's School Admissions Code. They must also follow clear rules which apply to all state schools about support for children with special needs and how school exclusions are managed.

  3. Voluntary Controlled schools are often church schools, with the lands and buildings normally owned by a charitable foundation, which appoints a quarter of the places on the governing body. However, the local authority employs the school's staff and has primary responsibility for admissions. Teachers must have qualified teacher status. These schools must follow the Department for Education's School Admissions Code. They must also follow clear rules which apply to all state schools about support for children with special needs and how school exclusions are managed.

  4. Voluntary Aided schools may be linked to a variety of organisations. They can be faith schools or non-denominational schools, such as those linked to London Livery Companies. The charitable foundation contributes towards the capital costs of the school, mostly owns the school buildings, and appoints a majority of the school governors. They have more authority to run the school than voluntary controlled schools, which are entirely funded by the state. The governing body employs the staff but teachers must have qualified teacher status. The governing body also has primary responsibility for admissions. However, these schools must follow the Department for Education's School Admissions Code. They must also follow clear rules which apply to all state schools about support for children with special needs and how school exclusions are managed.

  5. Academies get funding directly from the government, not the local authority. Where the academy is a new school (a start-up academy), their start-up costs are usually funded by private means, such as entrepreneurs, faith groups or non-governmental organisations (NGOs), with running costs met by Central Government. Many existing schools have changed status to become academies(i) (i.e. they are 'converter academies') in the last few years, since the law changed to allow all existing state schools to become academies . Converter academies are more likely to rely on government funding than on private financial support.
 Academies are free from direct local authority control and are run by a governing body which employs the staff. They don't have to follow the national curriculum and can set their own term times and school hours. They are not required to employ teachers with qualified teacher status. They must follow the Department for Education's School Admissions Code. They must also follow clear rules which apply to all state schools about support for children with special needs and how school exclusions are managed.

  6. Free schools are a new category of school in England authorised by the Academies Act 2010. They may be set up by parents, teachers, charities or businesses, where there is a perceived local need for more schools. They can set their own pay and conditions for staff and change the length of school terms and the school day. However, they are funded by government, to whom they are ultimately accountable.
 Free schools don't have to follow the national curriculum and are not required to employ teachers with qualified teacher status. 
Free schools must follow the Department for Education's School Admissions Code. They must also follow clear rules which apply to all state schools about support for children with special needs and how school exclusions are managed.

  7. Grammar schools are selective state-funded schools in England which may operate as community, foundation, voluntary aided or voluntary controlled schools. They are funded and run by the council, a foundation body or a trust. No new grammar school can be established unless it is to replace a previous grammar school.
 Grammar schools only have to follow part of the Department for Education's School Admissions Code. They are allowed to select pupils based on academic achievement.
They must follow clear rules which apply to all state schools about support for children with special needs and how school exclusions are managed.

  8. Faith schools can be different kinds of schools, eg voluntary aided schools, free schools, academies etc, and are governed and funded accordingly, but they are associated with a particular religion. 
Faith schools are mostly run like other state schools. They have to follow the national curriculum except for religious studies, where they are free to only teach about their own religion.
Faith schools only have to follow part of the Department for Education's School Admissions Code because they ARE allowed to take account of religion in their admissions policy, although anyone can apply for a place. They must, however, follow clear rules which apply to all state schools about support for children with special needs and how school exclusions are managed.

  9. City Technology Colleges (CTCs) are state-funded secondary schools that are independent of local authority control. They are overseen directly by the Department for Education. One fifth of the capital costs are met by private business sponsors, who also own or lease the buildings. The rest of the capital costs, and all running costs, are met by central government.
CTCs teach the National Curriculum, but specialise in mainly technology-based subjects such as technology, science and mathematics. They forge close links with businesses and industry (mainly through their sponsors), and often their governors are directors of local or national businesses that are supporting or have supported the colleges.
CTCs must follow the Department for Education's School Admissions Code. They must also follow clear rules which apply to all state schools about support for children with special needs and how school exclusions are managed.

    CTCs must follow the Department for Education's School Admissions Code (see above). They must also follow clear rules which apply to all state schools about support for children with special needs and how school exclusions are managed.

  10. University Technical Colleges (UTCs) are academies for 14- to 19-year-olds. They focus on providing technical education and work-related learning, combined with academic studies. All UTCs are sponsored by a local university and employers and may work in partnership with Further Education colleges and other educational institutions like established academy trusts.
They do not follow the National Curriculum. Instead they specialise in 2 curriculum areas (eg engineering and science) and teach core GCSEs alongside technical qualifications. They focus on disciplines that require highly-specialised equipment, for example, engineering, manufacturing and construction, and teach these disciplines alongside developing young people's business, ICT and design skills.
UTCs must follow the Department for Education's School Admissions Code (see above). They must also follow clear rules which apply to all state schools about support for children with special needs and how school exclusions are managed.

  11. Special Schools provide education for some children who have Special Educational Needs (SEN) or Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) – see Part 5 for an explanation of these terms. Special schools can be maintained schools, academies, free schools or independent schools.
There is less special school provision than previously, as many children with SEN or SEND are now being educated in mainstream schools. Special schools provide education which will meet the needs of children with SEN or SEND whose learning needs cannot be met in a regular classroom, and whose needs have been specified in an Education Health Care Plan. 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; behaviour, emotional and social development; and sensory and physical needs.
If you think that your child should go to a particular special school, you can name the school when you are consulted during the Education Health Care needs assessment. You can ask the local authority to consider sending the child to a non-maintained school, but the local authority might not agree and suggest a local maintained school instead.

  12. Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) (also known as Pupil Re-integration Units in some local authorities) are centres for children who are not able to attend mainstream or special schools. The local education authority funds them and employs their staff, but they have delegated responsibility for managing their own budget. They normally have a management committee, with significant local authority representation, rather than a governing body. Some are switching to academy status.
Very often their pupils are described as displaying Emotional and/or Behavioural Difficulties (EBD), but other causes can include the consequences of situations in the home; inclination to commit crimes; or exclusion from mainstream education.
 Although PRUs do not have to provide a full National Curriculum, they should offer a basic curriculum which includes English, mathematics, the sciences, Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) and Information and Computer Technology (ICT). They have been legally referred to as "Short Stay Schools" since September 2010, indicating that pupils are not expected to remain permanently.
Pupil Referral Units must follow clear rules which apply to all state schools aboutt support for children with special needs and how school exclusions are managed.

Further information

Types of school (government)
Types of school (Coram CLC)


(i) Academies Act 2010

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