Politics is often a confusing and noisy place, filled with random terms you’ve probably never even heard of. In this edition of ‘Mastering Politics’, we’re explaining the English education system and the types of schools within it. Don’t worry, we’re friendly here, so you’ll leave more informed than confused – promise!

State comprehensive school

The best-known type of state schools are comprehensives. They are funded by local councils and do not select pupils based on how academic they are deemed to be and are entirely non-selective.

State faith school

A state faith school is a school which is intended for students of a particular faith. For example, 1.2 million students are educated in over 8,000 Church schools in the UK. They are taught the same curriculum as a state comprehensive school, but with the incorporation of religious teachings.

State faith schools are funded by local councils and are selective of students based on religion.

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Academy schools

There has been a recent rise in the number of academy schools in England over the past few years. Academies are funded by the Department for Education (so, the government) but are run by academy trusts or organisations. They do not have to follow the same curriculum as state comprehensive schools.

Academies do not select students based on academic ability.

Free schools

Free schools are schools set up by organisations or group of individuals, such as parents, teachers, charities and businesses. They are funded by the government but are not controlled by the local council. The companies brought in to run the school are not allowed to make a profit and act solely as “education providers”.

Grammar schools

There are around 163 grammar schools in England which are able to select students based on their academic ability assessed in the “11 plus” test sat by students in Year Six. Grammar schools are state-funded and do not require students to pay a fee to attend.

Private/public schools

Private/public schools require termly fees to be paid in return for the education of children. They receive no funding from local councils or the government and can select students based on their academic ability. Private schools can create their own exam or assessment to give to students who wish to join the school.