School Strcutures

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Are you confused about the types of schools available in England?

I’ve been working in schools for over 20 years and I’ve come across countless parents and members of the public, even fellow teachers who are also confused about the structure of schools in England!

You wouldn’t be alone. I’m confused too!

There will be a focus on standards, not structures. (David Blunkett MP. Secretary of State for Education, 1997)

This is a blog I’ve been wanting to write for many months, kindled by a chapter in John Dunford‘s new book: The School Leadership Journey. In ‘navigating a route for the school’, Dunford highlights in chapter 2 the ’emphasis on structures’ throughout the last two decades in the English education system.

“[Blunkett] could not resist the temptation for all education secretaries of state to tinker with the structure of the school system. Primary schools have largely been immune from the maelstrom of structural legislation … although a growing percentage of primary schools are now becoming academies, with the encouragemnet to work together within multi-academy trusts.”

Types of Schools:

  • Comprehensive schools
  • Secondary modern schools
  • Grammar schools
  • Faith schools (voluntary aided)
  • Community schools
  • Specialists schools (with a choice of ten specialisms)
  • City technical colleges (CTCs)
  • Grant-maintained schools
  • Beacon schools
  • Studio schools
  • Univeristy technical colleges
  • Academies (sponsored or converted)
  • Trust schools
  • Free schools
  • Teaching schools
  • National support schools
  • State boarding schools
  • Special schools
  • PRUs (Pupil Referral Units)
  • … we even have MATs (Multi-Academy Trusts.

Are you aware of all the types of schools above? I knew them all, but I certainly would not be able to list them all from memory if asked! Even more, what makes each of these schools different and how they work is even more complicated for the parent (and maybe even the employee). How well do teachers know our school structure and their functions? What sets them apart?

shutterstock_156933 jelly babies Image ID:156933 Copyright: Dawn Hudson
Image: Shutterstock

Which type of school did you attend as a child? If you have a child, which type do they attend and why? You may have had a choice in the matter, or none at all? Perhaps you’re a teacher reading this and have worked in a variety of schools listed above? If so, leave a comment below and elaborate on some of the key differences, if any.


7 thoughts on “School Strcutures

  1. My child’s school currently propsing to convert from a community to a foundation school but no mention of foundation schools on your list! Any information on the advantages of foundation schools gratefully received!

    1. The status of Grant Maintained School (which is listed) was actually removed when New Labour took over from Conservatives in 1997, with the 1998 ‘Standards not Structures’ (sic) Education Act. They had choice of becoming Foundation Schools, which many did. I think … 🙂

  2. I’ve made the leap into a Studio School and wow what a difference that has made to my belief in English education. I was about to become another statistic after 5 years in a comprehensive school that then changed into an academy.
    My risky move into a Studio school has renewed my belief in both myself as a successful practitioner but also in the very idea of education in England. Having seen students pushed in ways they didn’t want to ensure the schools tried to meet fooor targets, I’m now lucky enough to work somewhere where students are at the centre of everything and decisions are made based on those students rather than ‘what Ofsted might want’. I do believe, however, that this really comes down to my head teacher, as opposed to it being a Studio School, although she does feel that she has the freedom to do things differently and the size of the school makes exciting decisions a lot easier. Some of these decisions include:
    -students being in work placement every six weeks from year 10
    -sixth form students being on paid placements two days per week, which have all lead to university, apprenticeships and even degree-paid apprenticeships when leaving y13
    -massive emphasis on project based learning- especially across the curriculum
    -ease in organising drop down days to respond to need
    -no hidden children through daily 30minute staff meetings
    To name but a few.

    Feel free to email me for more information or a visit to Studio West in Newcastle to see us in action:

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