Jargon Buster

Our glossary defines the different school types and all the terms associated with our education system

7+, 11+ and 13+
These are the names of the entrance exams used by state and independent schools, denoted by the age that they are taken. The 13+ exams are also known as Common Entrance exams.

Academy schools
Publicly-funded schools run by an academy trust which employs the staff. They don’t have to follow the national curriculum but do have to follow the same rules on admissions, SEN and exclusions as other state schools.

Boarding schools
Schools where pupils study and live during the school year. They can be single sex or co-ed and the majority are fee-paying.

Common Entrance
The exams taken in English, Maths and Science in Year 6 (plus humanities, language and classical subjects in Year 8), to gain entrance to senior independent schools at 11+ and 13+ respectively. Exams are marked by the senior school for which the candidate has applied. Common Entrance is usually the preferred entrance approach for more traditional boarding schools.

Community schools
State-funded schools or colleges where the local council is responsible for the admissions policy.

Day schools
Schools where children are educated during the day, after which they return home.

Faith schools
Schools associated with a particular religion. They follow the national curriculum and priority is given to those children attending a place of religion or worship.

Free schools
Schools funded by the government but not run by the local council. They can be set up on a not-for-profit basis by teachers, parents, charities or community/faith groups and have more control over how they are run, so don’t have to follow the national curriculum, for example.

Foundation schools
State-funded schools in which the governing body has greater freedom in the running of the school than a community school. They own their own assets, employ their own staff and are their own admission authorities.

Grammar schools
Academically-oriented secondary schools in the state system operating selective intake by means of entry tests. 164 left in England.

Independent Schools Examination Board (ISEB)
Provides rigorous, high quality examinations and assessments for pupils seeking entry to independent senior schools at 11+ and 13+. The examinations, backed by the leading independent school associations, include the Common Pre-Tests, Common Entrance and Common Academic Scholarship examinations.

Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI)
The Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) is the body responsible for the inspection of schools in membership of the Associations that make up the Independent Schools Council.

International Baccalaureate (IB)
An international educational foundation headquartered in Switzerland. Originally designed for the children of globetrotting diplomats, IB offers four programmes, the most popular in the UK being an alternative to A levels in the shape of a broader-based two-year diploma.

International schools
These promote an international education (often the IB, see above), and cater for students who are not nationals of the host country. The Council of International Schools (CIS) lists 13 schools in London.

Ofsted
The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills for state schools Ofsted inspection reports can be viewed online at www.reports.ofsted.gov.uk and are often used as the basis of school selection criteria.

Oxbridge
A collective term referring to the 800-year-old universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

Pre-preps
Schools for children aged three to seven. The majority are co-educational and independent.

Prep schools
Schools for children aged seven to 11, or 13 depending on the departure age to senior school. The majority are co-educational and independent and either stand-alone or attached to a senior school.

Pre-test
The ISEB (Independent Schools Examination Board) Common Pre-Tests are taken when a pupil is in Year 6 or Year 7 and are a standardised measure of ability and attainment. They are commissioned from GL Assessment and are online and adaptive. The tests include Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, English and Mathematics in a multiple-choice format and take about two-and-a-half hours to complete; the tests can be taken together or at separate times, either in the candidate’s own school or at the senior school for which he or she is entered. Among the senior schools using pre-tests to assess candidates for entry are Bradfield, Brighton College, Charterhouse, Wellington and Westminster.

For a full list see www.iseb.co.uk/ getmedia/74a04c0d-0651- 4639-996e-3901db330542/ Documentation-CPT-Senior- Schools.pdf.aspx

Primary schools
Schools for children aged four to 11, usually in the state sector.

Private schools
Also known as independent schools, they charge fees to attend. Pupils don’t have to follow the national curriculum and the schools are inspected regularly, either by Ofsted, the Independent Schools Inspectorate or The Bridge Schools Inspectorate.

Public schools
These schools are not in fact open to the public and are fee paying. They were originally established to educate the children of civil servants and soldiers working in far-flung corners of the British Empire, and as such tend to mirror establishment values.

Russell Group
A term referring to the self-selected association of 24 leading UK universities with arguably the best research and teaching.

SEN schools
Specialist and mainstream schools which provide specialist units or bases for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN).

Secondary schools
Schools for children aged 11-16 or 18, usually within the state sector.

Voluntary aided schools
State-funded faith schools or colleges where the governors are responsible for the admissions policy.


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