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Understanding the different types of school

In the schools' directory you will find information on each school including the type of school – these are explained below.

Community schools

Community schools are 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.

Trust schools

Trust schools are like community schools but are run together with an outside body – usually a business or charity which has formed an educational trust.

Voluntary-aided schools

Voluntary-aided schools are religious or faith schools. The governing body of these schools employs the staff and sets the entrance criteria. School buildings and land are usually owned by a charity, often a church.

Voluntary-controlled schools

Voluntary-controlled schools are a cross between community and voluntary-aided schools. The local authority employs the staff and sets the entrance criteria, like a community school, but the school land and buildings are owned by a charity, often a church, which also appoints some members of the governing body.


Academies are independently managed schools set up by sponsors from business, faith or voluntary groups in partnership with the local authority and the Department of Education.

Free schools

Free schools are funded by the government but aren’t run by the local council. They have more control over how to do things. Free schools can be set up by groups like charities or community faith groups.