Schools: For Children and young people

Types of school Ofsted inspects

Schools fall into two different groups:

  • Maintained schools and academies – these could be nursery, primary (infant and junior), secondary, community special, independent (non-maintained) special, boarding, residential special schools, pupil referral units and service children’s education.
  • Independent schools – can cover different age ranges from 3 to 18; including boarding schools and residential special schools. 

How frequently a school is inspected depends on how well it did at its last inspection. We inspect weaker schools more frequently and only inspect outstanding schools where concerns emerge.

Types of school

If you or your parent or carer want to look for a school in your area, then you can search by these types of school: 

  • Independent school
    Independent schools provide full-time education to five or more pupils of aged 5 and older, or one or more pupils with a statement of special educational need, or is in public care. There are around 2,400 independent schools in England who are all registered with the Department for Education. Ofsted does not inspect all of these; some are inspected by other inspectorates. See Further information below for their details.
  • Local authority
    We inspect a local authority’s school improvement arrangements to see how well it carries out its legal duty to promote high educational standards and fulfilment of potential of all children and young people in the local area. We publish the report on this website on the local authority’s page. 
  • Nursery
    Maintained nursery education is for children from the age of three; and may be for some or all of the day. Some nursery schools also educate children under three. 
  • Primary
    Dependent on where you live, primary schools are for children aged from three, four or five, until the age of 11 but some schools also have privately funded provision on site to look after babies and children under three. Some primary schools are just infant schools, some are junior schools and some are for both. Some might even have boarding pupils. 
  • Pupil referral unit
    A pupil referral unit is a place where a child or young person is educated when they are not able to go to their normal school. This could be because they are very ill, have been excluded from their school or because they are pregnant or are a school-age mother. Usually attending a pupil referral unit is only for a short time. 
  • Secondary
    Secondary schools are for children aged 11, until the age of 16 but often also include sixth form centres or colleges which have pupils until the age of 18. Some secondary schools offer childcare and/or nursery education and may have boarding pupils. 
  • Service children's education
    Service children's education is responsible for providing schooling for the children of the armed services – that means the army, navy and air force- and Ministry of Defence personnel who work outside the UK. There are 43 schools, including six secondary schools. 
  • Sixth form schools
    These are sixth form centres and sixth form colleges which have pupils aged 17 to 18. 
  • Special schools
    Community special schools educate children or young people almost always with statements of special educational need. These pupils often have a range of learning and/or behavioural problems. Some might have specific disabilities like being deaf or having sight problems. Independent special schools are registered by the Department for Education and provide full-time education for one or more pupils aged 5 and upwards. They are also usually for children with statements of special educational need, some of whom might board at the school too. 
  • Other schools 
    For example, community schools, foundation schools, non-maintained special schools, sixth form centres, community hospital schools and foundation hospital schools.

Further information

Annual Report 2012/13