About independent schools

Independent schools are those not subject to local and central government control or funding. They are largely financed by the fees that parents pay and in some cases by endowments. Some are registered charities so their income may be exempt from tax if they can demonstrate public benefit. Whether or not they are charities, they are all businesses and, just like private sector businesses in other service industries, can flourish or go bust.

But there are difficulties about this definition. The government calls state-funded academies ‘independent’, by which they mean independent of the LEA, not the state. And state boarding schools charge fees for boarding costs but not for tuition.

Individually, independent schools are strikingly different − they determine their own ethos, set their own priorities and, critically, control their own admissions, curriculum and discipline.

Children quite commonly transfer between the state and independent systems. It is usually easiest at natural entry points – into secondary schools at age 11 (12 in Scotland), or at 16 after GCSE into the sixth form.