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State-funded Schools

These schools are paid for by national taxes, and provide free* education to children between the ages of 3 and 18.

(*You may be asked for a voluntary contribution for extracurricular activities such as swimming lessons and field trips.)

The types of schools include:

  • Academy schools - independent of local authority and national government control and deal with their own admissions;
  • Community schools - controlled by the local council and with no influence from either business or religious groups;
  • Foundation schools - the governing body has greater freedom in the running of the school than in community schools;
  • Free Schools - independent schools set up by communities in response to local requirements;
  • Voluntary Aided schools - a foundation or trust (usually a religious organisation), contributes to building costs and has a substantial influence in the running of the school;
  • Voluntary Controlled schools - a foundation or trust (usually a Christian denomination) has some formal influence in the running of the school; and
  • a small number are state boarding schools.

Most state schools are required to follow the National Curriculum, which is a set of subjects and standards used by primary and secondary schools to standardise children's learning. It covers what subjects are taught and the levels children should reach in each subject.

For more information on state schooling please go to the Department for Education.

Independent Schools

Independent schools are privately owned and not maintained by the Local Authority. They are registered with the Department for Education but make their own arrangements concerning staffing numbers, qualifications and curriculum. Independent schools obtain most of their finances from fees paid by parents and some of the larger independent schools are known as public schools. Most boarding schools are independent.

There are a number of independent schools in the Cambridgeshire area for all age groups up to Sixth Form Colleges for 17 and 18 year olds. These schools deal with their own enrolment and can ask children to sit entrance exams before they are considered for a place. You will need to contact the individual school to find out more.

To search for independent schools in the area, see the Independent Schools Council or the Independent Schools Directory. Schools that are members of the Independent Schools Council are inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate.

The Department for Education publishes school and college performance tables, including exam results for independent schools.

Alternative Education

You may decide that an alternative to the traditional education path is best for your child/ren.

Home schooling is an option (referred to as Elective Home Education). For more information visit the Cambridgeshire County Council website.

There are also schools which take a different approach eg Steiner and Montessori.