Jargon Buster

Our glossary defines the different school types and all the terms associated with our education system.

Academy schools
Publicly funded schools run by an academy trust which employs the staff. They don’t have to follow the national curriculum but do have to follow the same rules on admissions, Special Educational Needs (SEN) and exclusions as other state schools.

Boarding schools
Schools where pupils study and live during the school year. They can be single sex or coeducational and the majority are fee paying.

Common Entrance
The name for the exams taken in English, maths and science in year 6 (plus humanities, languages and classical subjects in year 8) to gain entrance to senior independent or private schools at 11+ and 13+ respectively. The exams are marked by the senior school for which the candidate has applied. Common Entrance is usually the preferred entrance approach for more traditional boarding schools, often called public schools.

Community schools
State-funded schools or colleges where the local council is responsible for the admissions policy.

Day schools
Schools where children are educated during the day, after which they return home.

Faith schools
Schools associated with a particular religion. They follow the national curriculum and priority is given to those children attending a place of religion or worship.

Free schools
Schools funded by the government but not run by the local council. They can be set up on a not-for-profit basis by teachers, parents, charities or community and faith groups and have more control over how they are run, so don’t have to follow the national curriculum, for example. Free schools include university technical colleges and studio schools.

Foundation schools 
State-funded schools in which the governing body has greater freedom in the running of the school than a community school. They own their own assets, employ their own staff and are their own admission authorities.

Grammar schools
Academically oriented secondary schools in the state system operating selective intake by means of entry tests. Of the 164 left in England, 19 are in Greater London.

International Baccalaureate (IB)
An international educational foundation headquartered in Switzerland. Originally designed for the children of globetrotting diplomats, IB offers four programmes, the most popular in the UK being an alternative to A levels in the shape of a broaderbased two-year diploma.

International schools 
These promote an international education (often the IB, see above) and cater for students who are not nationals of the host country. The Council of International Schools (CIS) lists 13 member schools in London. Ofsted The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. Ofsted inspection reports can be viewed online at www.reports. ofsted.gov.uk and are often used as the basis of school selection criteria.

A collective term referring to the 800-year-old universities of Oxford and Cambridge and sometimes modified to Loxbridge to include London universities.

Schools for children aged three to seven. The majority are coeducational and independent.

Prep schools
Schools for children aged seven to 11 or 13 depending on the departure age to senior school. The majority are coeducational and independent and either stand-alone or attached to a senior school. There are day preps and boarding prep schools.

Primary schools
Schools for children aged four to 11, usually in the state sector.

Private schools
Also known as independent schools, they charge fees to attend. Pupils don’t have to follow the national curriculum and the schools are inspected regularly, either by Ofsted, the Independent Schools Inspectorate or The Bridge Schools Inspectorate.

Public schools
These schools are not in fact open to the public and are fee paying. They were originally established to educate the children of civil servants and soldiers working in far-flung corners of the British Empire and as such tend to mirror establishment values.

Russell Group
A term referring to the self-selected association of 24 leading UK universities with arguably the best research and teaching.

SEN schools 
Specialist and mainstream schools which provide units or bases for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN).

Secondary schools 
Schools for children aged 11-16 or 18, usually within the state sector.

Voluntary aided schools
State-funded faith schools or colleges where the governors are responsible for the admissions policy.

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