All children in England between the ages of 5 and 16 are entitled to a free place at a state school.

Most state schools have to follow the national curriculum. The most common ones are:

  • community schools, controlled by the local council and not influenced by business or religious groups
  • foundation schools and voluntary schools, which have more freedom to change the way they do things than community schools
  • academies, run by a governing body, independent from the local council - they can follow a different curriculum
  • grammar schools, run by the council, a foundation body or a trust - they select all or most of their pupils based on academic ability and there is often an exam to get in

Special schools

Special schools with pupils aged 11 and older can specialise in 1 of the 4 areas of special educational needs:

  • communication and interaction
  • cognition and learning
  • social, emotional and mental health
  • sensory and physical needs

Schools can further specialise within these categories to reflect the special needs they help with, for example Autistic spectrum disorders, visual impairment, or speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).