All children in England between the ages of five and 16 are entitled to a free place at a state school. Children normally start primary school at the age of 4 or 5, but many schools now have a Reception Year for 4 year olds. Children normally leave at the age of 11, moving on to secondary school. Most state schools admit both boys and girls, though some are single-sex.
Within the state school system, there are a number of schools with particular characteristics. As with other state schools, admissions are coordinated by the Local Authority. However, some may have different admission criteria or funding arrangements.
A selective state secondary school, grammar schools select all or most of their pupils based on academic ability. Entry to grammar schools is through an 11 testing process taken in the final year of primary education. The format of the 11 test varies significantly between Local Authorities. Some schools with ‘grammar’ in the title are fee-charging independent schools.
Faith schools are mostly run in the same way as other state schools. However, their faith status may be reflected in their religious education curriculum, admissions criteria and staffing policies.
Academies are independently managed, all-ability schools set up by sponsors from business, faith or voluntary groups in partnership with the Department for Education and Skills and the Local Authority. Together they fund the land and buildings, with the government covering the running costs.
City Technology Colleges
These are independently managed, non-fee-paying schools in urban areas for pupils of all abilities aged 11 to 18. They are geared towards science, technology and the world of work, offering a range of vocational qualifications as well as GCSEs and A levels.
Community and foundation special schools
Special schools cater for children with specific special educational needs. These may include physical disabilities or learning difficulties.
Maintained boarding schools
Maintained boarding schools offer free tuition, but charge fees for board and lodging.