Different types of state schools in the UK

It is hard to keep track of all the different types of state schools, as each passing Government seems to introduce a new type of school to the country. This can lead to confusion as people mix-up Academies with Specialist Schools and muddle Free Schools with Voluntary Schools. This is why we have decided to write a brief overview of the numerous types of state schools in the country.

Community Schools

  • Community schools are run by local authorities.
  • Local authorities employ the staff and own the school premises.
  • The local authority decides the admission criteria, which is usually a catchment area.
  • Community schools have been around in England and Wales since 1902, albeit previously called County schools
  • In 2008 61% of schools in England and Wales were community schools.

Free Schools

  • Free schools are run by non-profit or charitable trusts.
  • Can be set up by: parents, teachers, charities, or not for profit businesses in response to local demand for schools.
  • Teachers at Free schools do not have to be qualified.
  • Can be located in any building, such as office blocks or village halls.
  • Free schools are a controversial new school system set up by the Conservative/Liberal coalition in 2010.
  • There are over 400 free schools with plans to build more.

Voluntary Aided/controlled Schools

  • The vast majority of these schools are faith schools.
  • Anyone can apply for a place at these schools regardless of faith.
  • The Governing body employs the staff and sets the admissions criteria.
  • The Governing body is comprised of teachers, parents, members of the local authority and faith representatives.
  • Have more autonomy than community schools but still teach the national curriculum. They do not have to teach about other faiths in R.E.
  • Funded by the state but the governing body running the school helps to finance the school and often owns the school premises.
  • Around a third of state funded schools in the UK are faith schools.


  • Academies are independent from local authority control. They are controlled by charitable or not-for-profit trusts.
  • Academies receive their state funding directly from central government.
  • Independently decide how much to pay staff rather than conforming to national standards.
  • Do not have to teach the national curriculum.
  • Have the ability to change the length of the school day and term times.
  • The current government are encouraging more academies:  There are currently 4676 academies in England as of June 2015.

We hope you found this blog informative, we certainly did when we were doing the research into the different types of schools.

Tagged in: Education