Types of schools


Community schools

In Community schools, the LA employs the school’s staff, own the school's land and buildings and have primary responsibility for deciding the arrangements for admitting pupils.

Foundation schools

At Foundation schools, the Governing Body employ the school's staff and have primary responsibility for admission arrangements. The school's land and buildings are owned by the Governing Body or by a charitable foundation. Many of these schools were formerly grant maintained schools. Foundation Schools can be split into three categories: 

  • those without a foundation
  • those with a foundation but which are not qualifying foundation schools (this means that 45% or less of Governors can be Foundation Governors)
  • those with a foundation and which are qualifying foundation schools (the majority of Governors appointed by the foundation)

Voluntary Aided

In Voluntary Aided schools (many of which are church schools) the Governing Body employs the staff, and decides admission arrangements. The school's land and buildings are normally owned by a charitable foundation. The Governing Body contributes towards the capital costs of running the school.

Most aided schools are linked to either the Church of England or the Catholic Church, but there are schools linked to other faith groups and a few non-denominational schools.

Voluntary Controlled

Voluntary Controlled schools are almost always church schools, and the land and buildings are often owned by a charitable foundation. However, the LA employ the schools' staff and has primary responsibility for admission arrangements.

Trust schools

A Trust school is a state funded foundation school supported by a charitable trust. It is made up of partners working together for the benefit of the school.

The Trust enables Trust Schools to: 

  • raise standards through strengthening new and existing long-term partnerships between schools and external partners
  • broaden opportunities and increase aspirations for pupils, support children's all-round development, and tackle issues of deprivation and social exclusion
  • strengthen overall leadership and governance
  • give business foundations and other organisations the opportunity to be more involved in their local community
  • engage with parents – schools will need to consult parents before entering a trust
  • bring a renewed energy and enthusiasm to the way they work by learning from other schools and external partners
  • create a distinctive, individual or shared ethos


These are state funded independent schools, established as charities and companies limited by guarantee.  They are free from Local Authority control, able to set their own pay and conditions for staff, are not subject to the National Curriculum, and can determine the length of school terms and days.  There are two types of Academy; converter Academies, and sponsor Academies set up to replace underperforming schools.  For more information on Academies, see the:

Free schools

A type of Academy, either a new school set up in response to parental demand, or a fee-paying school joining the state education system. 

Both Academies and Free Schools are charitable organisations and therefore have charitable trustees and a board of Directors.  Governors may also be a Director and a Trustee.

Independent schools

An independent school is one that is usually funded by fee-paying students and is not maintained by the LA or central government.

Pupil Referral Units (PRUs)

Pupil Referral Units are a type of school established and maintained by LAs to provide education for children of compulsory school age who may otherwise not receive suitable education. The focus of the units should be on getting pupils back into a mainstream school, and pupils may include teenage mothers, pupils excluded from school, school phobics and pupils in the assessment phase of a Statement.

Pupil Referral Units should have a Management Committee, for which LAs have overall responsibility. Management Committees are made up of a range of people, for example Headteachers from mainstream schools, social care, Probation Service, School Governors or the Youth Service. 

Pupil Referral Units are not the same as other schools in all respects, and statutory proposals are not needed to open, close or change them.

Contact the Governors' Support Service, via:

Last updated: 09 July 2018 08:54:27