Education Special: Secondary Schools

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The next step on the education journey covers the ages 11 – 16.

There are a few options available at this stage of your childs development, which makes this one of the most important decision you can make for your child – your child is unique, and so is every school.

Your job, as a parent, is to find the school that suits your child. Schools across England are funded and managed in different ways and will vary depending on the age of your child – none more so than at secondary school level.

State secondary schools

There are four main types of state schools funded by local authorities.They all follow the National Curriculum and are inspected by Ofsted (the government’s Offi ce for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills).

Community schools

Community schools are run by the local authority, which employs school staff, owns the land and buildings, and sets the entrance criteria (such as catchment area) that decide which children are eligible for a place).

Foundation & Trust schools

Foundation schools are run by a governing body which employs the staff and sets the entrance criteria. Land and buildings are owned either by the governing body or by a charitable foundation.

Trust schools are similar, but are run together with an outside body – usually a business or charity – which has formed an educational trust.

Voluntary-aided schools

Voluntary-aided schools are religious or faith schools. Just like foundation schools, the governing body employs the staff and sets the entrance criteria. School buildings and land are usually owned by a charity, often a church.

Voluntary-controlled schools

Voluntary-controlled schools are a cross between community and voluntary-aided schools. The local authority employs the staff and sets the entrance criteria, like a community school, but the school land and buildings are owned by a charity, often a church, which also appoints some members of the governing body.


Academies are independently managed schools set up by sponsors from business, faith or voluntary groups in partnership with the local authority and the government Department for Children, Schools and Families.

City Technology Colleges

City Technology Colleges are urban-based, independently managed secondary schools geared towards science, technology and the world of work. They offer a range of vocational qualifi cations as well as GCSEs and A levels.

Special schools

Pupils at a special school have usually been assessed and given a statement of special educational needs (SEN). These may include learning disabilities or physical disabilities. Some special schools are funded by the local education authority.

These could be community, voluntaryaided or controlled, or foundation special schools. Some special schools are independent.

Free schools

Free Schools are normally brand-new schools set up by teachers, charities, community or faith groups, universities and groups of parents where there is parental demand. They will be set up as Academies and will be funded in the same way, directly from central government. They also share with Academies a greater control over their finances, the curriculum, and teachers’ pay and conditions.

Grammar schools

Grammar schools are state funded schools which select their pupils based on academic ability. Under the grammar school system pupils take an entrants exam in order to become eligible.

Independent schools

Approximately 7% of the total number of school children in England attend an Independent schools.


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