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Types of setting

Types of Education Settings - 

Academy Schools 

These are state-funded schools in England which are directly funded by the Department for Education.  They are independent of local authority control and do not have to follow the national curriculum. Academies are self-governing non-profit charitable trusts and may receive additional support from personal or corporate sponsors.


Alternative Provision (AP)

AP settings are places that provide education for children who can't  attend a mainstream or special school due to being excluded from school, or due to illness.  Each local education authority has a duty to make arrangements for the provision of education in or out of school for all children of compulsory school age. If children may not receive suitable education for any period for reasons such as illness or exclusion from school, these arrangements can be made through AP settings - which are a mixture of public units and privately managed companies.  Although AP settings do not have to provide a full National Curriculum, they should offer a basic curriculum which includes English, mathematics, the sciences, PSHE and ICT. An AP settings is legally a type of school which can be inspected by Ofsted.


Children’s Centres

Provide a range of services and activities for children aged 0-5 and their families, including childcare and early learning.


Church of England School (CE School)

A school founded by or associated with the Church of England. They are usually state funded.  Church Schools can give priority to applicants who are Christian, however, state-funded Church schools must admit other applicants if they cannot fill all of their places and must ensure that their admission arrangements comply with the School Admissions Code.


Community Schools

Run by the local authority, which employs school staff, owns the land and buildings, and sets the entrance criteria (such as catchment area) that decide which children are eligible for a place.


Community Special Schools

The special school equivalent of mainstream community schools, which cater mainly for children with special educational needs.


Early Years Settings

These settings provide early education, for example, nurseries, pre-schools, childminders and Portage services to young children aged 0-5 years of age.


Foundation Schools

In England and Wales, these are state-funded schools in which the governing body has greater freedom in the running of the school than in community schools.

Foundation schools are a kind of "maintained school", meaning that they are funded by central government via the local education authority, and do not charge fees to students. As with voluntary controlled schools, all capital and running costs are met by the government. As with voluntary aided schools, the governing body employs the staff and has responsibility for admissions to the school, subject to rules imposed by central government. Pupils follow the National Curriculum

Some foundation schools, also called trust schools, have a foundation or trust that owns the land and buildings. Otherwise the land and buildings are owned by the governing body.


Foundation Special School 

A special school equivalent of the mainstream foundation school catering wholly or mainly for children with statutory statements of special educational needs/EHC Plans.

Home Education  

Where a child has a Statement or an Education Health Care Plan and is educated otherwise than at school, EITHER the parent makes the special educational provision OR it is arranged and funded by the local authority. It is extremely rare for local authorities to provide therapies or support (including SALT or OT) once a child is home educated, as parents are deemed to have opted out. 


Independent Schools

These are mostly controlled by charities and mostly funded by fees paid by parents and, sometimes, charitable trust funds. In an independent school,  the headteacher with the backing of the governing body employs the staff and may buy in and administer support services. The pupils do not have to follow the national curriculum, and the admissions policy is determined and administered by the headteacher and the governing body.


Independent Special School 

Equivalent to an Independent School catering wholly or mainly for children with statutory Statements of special educational needs/EHC Plans. Some schools may specialise in specific special educational needs


Maintained Schools 

Schools that are maintained by the Local Authority.


Non-Maintained Special Schools

Independent special schools approved by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills. They are run on a not-for-profit basis by charitable trusts and normally cater for children with severe and/or low incidence special educational needs.

There are various sorts of schools that are not maintained by the local education authority, which include:-

  • independent schools

  • city technology colleges

  • city academies

  • special schools not maintained by the local education authority (Education and Library Board in Northern Ireland)

  • early learning organisations.



Education settings for children under 5 and usually over 2 years. They may be maintained by the LA or be Independent. Some private nurseries take children from 3 months onwards.


Primary Education

Full time education for young children below the age of 11. (some schools may have separate infants ages 5-7 and junior 7-11).


Residential Special Schools 

For children with varying needs or specific needs. Support is available 24 hours a day, and the curriculum is therefore a 24 hour one, also referred to as a 'waking day'.  

A ‘waking day’ means that a child needs to be educated across all of their ‘waking hours’ and a residential placement is necessary for educational reasons.  This might be because a child has therapeutic needs which are considered to be educational, which must be provided outside of normal school hours. A ‘waking day’ curriculum may be necessary if the child has severe or multiple needs that cannot be met in daytime provision and/or which require a consistent programme during and after school hours. 

It may also be appropriate if the child is 'looked after' by the local authority and has complex social and learning needs. In this case,  the placement is joint funded with the LA social services.  It also may be appropriate if the child has complex medical needs as well as learning needs that cannot be managed in local day provision and the placement is joint-funded with the local health authority.

Resource Base/Special Unit

Specialist provision within a mainstream school to support children with specific needs.


Roman Catholic Schools (RC School)

State-maintained schools open to pupils of all faiths or none, although priority is usually given to Roman Catholic children. The schools follow the national curriculum although Religious Education is compulsory until Year 12 and prominence is given to Roman Catholic teachings. There are also independent RC schools.


Secondary School

Full time school for young people age 11-18 years or from year 7 to year 14.

Special Schools

These cater to students who have special educational needs due to severe learning difficulties or physical disabilities. Special schools may be specifically designed, staffed and resourced to provide the appropriate special education for children with additional needs.

Voluntary Schools

There are two types of voluntary schools:- (a) Controlled or (b) Aided  

Voluntary Aided School (VA) are usually called religious schools or faith schools. In a voluntary aided school the land and buildings are normally owned by a charity, often a religious organisation such as a church, but the governing body is responsible for running the school. The school is funded partly by the local education authority, partly by the governing body and partly by the charity. The governing body employs the staff but the local education authority provides support services.  Pupils have to follow the national curriculum.The admissions policy is determined and administered by the governors in consultation with the local education authority and other relevant schools in the area.

Voluntary Controlled schools (often called faith or religious schools) are state-funded schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in which a foundation or trust (usually a Christian denomination) has some formal influence in the running of the school. This usually means that the land and buildings are owned by a charity, often a religious organisation such as a church, and the charity appoints some of the members of the governing body, but the local education authority is responsible for running the school.  The LA funds the school, employs the staff and is responsible for the admissions policy.


City Technology Colleges (CTCs)

State funded secondary schools which are independent of local authority control and are directly overseen by the Department for Education. They teach the national curriculum with an emphasis on technology based subjects such as science, maths and technology.  Most of the 15 CTCs which were established have now converted to Academies.

Find below some useful links with more information about Education Settings. Click on them for access to the websites:​ (use search bar on homepage for “Types of Schools” downloadable PDF guide)