State, Private, or Grammar?:Where do I start to know about the UK education system?


With all the different routes into the UK education system, what are the differences between state, private, or grammar schools? We need to get to the basics.


Sources of funding is one major difference between private and state schools

Community Schools--- supervised by the local council and refrained from business and religious group influence

Voluntary Schools, or “Faith schools”--- funded by the local authority but bear the autonomy to change operations and other policies; sometimes supported by a church or a religious group

Academies and free schools--- run by private not-for-profit trusts or organisation and can follow a different curriculum aided by the national curriculum


Grammar Schools--- run by any of the above but their students are selected based mainly on academic ability assessed via an entrance exam focusing on English, Math, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning

As compared to all the above, the other type of school is known as Private Schools--- privately-funded independent schools are uniformly supported by private trusts and organisations. They can be faith or non-faith denominated, highly academically challenging, or focusing on any other ethos or extra-curricular achievements. They can also follow other curriculum rather than the UK national one.


Different priorities towards teaching and learning

A teacher, formerly trained at Teach First-- highly selective postgraduate teacher program to help transform underprivileged and underperforming state schools, has pointed out a few differences between the two in terms of teaching and learning.

While state schools focus on generating outstanding lessons and good grades to work towards an Ofsted-inspection rating as an “outstanding” school, the paradigm of learning is to work closely with the families to enhance home learning where school teaching is not exclusive to a child’s development. The school is a collective identity of a learning community.


While state schools focus on generating outstanding lessons and good grades to work towards an Ofsted-inspection rating as an “outstanding” school, the paradigm of learning is to work closely with the families to enhance home learning where school teaching is not exclusive to a child’s development. The school is a collective identity of a learning community.


While state schools focus on generating outstanding lessons and good grades to work towards an Ofsted-inspection rating as an “outstanding” school, the paradigm of learning is to work closely with the families to enhance home learning where school teaching is not exclusive to a child’s development. The school is a collective identity of a learning community.


While private schools may prioritise academic achievements, none of which will sacrifice the pastoral arrangement as a whole-person education. Every student always belongs to a house where tutors and masters oversee and give detailed attention to a child especially in out-of school hours and non-academic accomplishments. Priorities are equally provided for each aspect of a child, and no one aspect should overtake another but most often follow the child’s leading potentials.


Self-directed Learning VS. Teacher-centred Approach

While state schools, with higher teacher-children ratio, train children to more independent learning, group work and often uphold the idea of inclusion and equality. Private schools promote internationalism (not only “inclusion”), catering the needs to personalise individual learning at all times. Some highly competitive private schools expect their teachers to be the powerhouse of assimilating examination-oriented techniques, whereas a non-Grammar state-school student is leading towards more self-directed learning than a teacher-centred approach.

Parents’ expectations on how a child should be led and nurtured

Some research illustrates that over 65% of successful Oxbridge candidates are privately educated in fee-paying schools that have better facilities and smaller-class size with a more well-socialised culture. While you could find more international students in a private school, most of them do come from similar affluent socio-economic backgrounds and nationalities.

Some state-school parents express that they have more autonomy and are more involved in their children’s out of school hours. Some said that, without the pressure of a price tag in education, they can spend more on educational trips or overseas trips together as a family. Diversity in state-schools makes children mature and understand society, politics, and other aspects of life. One parent concluded: there is a huge difference studying diversity in sociology and living everyday life with those who come from different backgrounds.

Grammar Schools: A clearer educational goal between state and private education

While other state and private schools have various expectations in academic and pastoral care for one student, grammar schools do offer a very clear objective goal: academic aspiration. Grammar schools, with their investment in academic-driven students at heart without any fees, are highly selective in 11+ and 13+ entry examinations. Those who will be growing up with you in your secondary school life won’t be those who are expected to be high achievers for all-As results. The learning environment is highly pressurised that may or may not be suitable for a child.


In order to prepare for the 11+ school entrance examination for grammar and private schools in the UK, we recommend using Atom Learning, which is an online learning platform to master English, mathematics, verbal, and non-verbal reasoning. You can enjoy a 5-day trial with the link below and enjoy a further 10% for the subscription afterwards (please use this discount code: KaoJ3ElO). https://atomlearning.co.uk/partners/KaoJ3ElO


We also have a team of specialist tutors, who are Oxbridge and Russell Group graduates, who could assist further in entrance examinations tutoring. If you want to learn more about which route is more suitable for you or your child, please do not hesitate to contact our team at +44 7874 670 429 or karen@jamesleeconsultancy.com



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