Boys and girls sitting around a table in secondary school
Back to school, Parenting

Secondary schools in the UK

Your child is approaching the end of their time in primary school, meaning you need to think about their next move. It’s almost time to start applying for secondary schools, but where should you send them? In the UK, there are many different options available, and this short guide will help you understand them all! Please note that this is a collaborative post. For more information about what this means, please click here

State Schools

State schools are the most common in the UK, referring to any secondary school that’s free for everyone. Your kids don’t have to pay a penny to learn as these schools are government-funded. A lot of schools actually fall into this category:

  • Community schools
  • Foundation schools
  • Faith schools
  • City tech colleges
  • Academies

Basically, any school that offers free education and is funded by the government will be classified as a state school. 

Grammar Schools

Technically, grammar schools are state schools as they are free to attend. The main difference between them, is that grammar schools have selective criteria when choosing who will attend them. Most of them will stipulate that a special exam is taken to decide which students are the most academically gifted. This exam is called the 11+, and your child will usually have to take it in Year 5 or 6. It tests their English, Maths, verbal reasoning, and non-verbal reasoning skills. 

Most of these schools will only accept the brightest children with the best marks in the exam. As such, they tend to have higher levels of teaching than regular state schools. The subject range can be more diverse, and kids are typically better prepared for higher education as well. 

Boys Singing at secondary school

Private Schools

Sometimes called independent schools, private schools are not free to attend. They aren’t funded by the government and exist as their own entity, setting fees for each year. They can follow their own curriculum, so a lot of the subjects and teachings are vastly different from those in state schools. 

Like grammar schools, some private schools may demand that children take the 11+ exam before accepting them. Others will accept any applications, as long as the parents can afford the term payments. 

Public Schools

Rather ironically named, public schools aren’t open to the general public. Instead, these are the most exclusive schools in Britain – Eton, for example is a public school. They can often be single-sex schools, and they have extortionate yearly fees for students. 

Home School

Of course, you can always choose to school your child from home. If they have already been homeschooled during primary school, you may wish to continue their education at home. 

However, some parents that homeschool their kids will opt to send them to secondary school, mainly because the curriculum becomes too hard for a parent to teach alone. They might benefit from being in a school and having lots of teachers and classes every day. 

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding which type of school to send your child to. Ultimately, it depends on what you think is best for your child, based on their abilities and your finances. 

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