Types of schools
There is no single definition of what is a maintained school but broadly it is one of the following categories of schools which is wholly or substantially financially maintained by a local authority. Maintained schools are to be distinguished from independent schools.
There are the following categories of maintained school in Wales:
- Community schools – these are owned and run by the local authority, and it is the local authority which sets the entrance criteria (such as catchment area) and decides which children are eligible for a place.
- Community special schools – these are community schools which deliver special education (i.e. to pupils with special educational needs).
- Voluntary controlled schools – these are run by a voluntary organisation (in Wales this is typically the Roman Catholic Church or the Church in Wales) and yet closely controlled by the local authority. The local authority employs the staff and sets the entrance criteria, but the school land and buildings are owned by a charity (often the church) which appoints some members of the governing body.
- Voluntary aided schools – these are run by a voluntary organisation and enjoy greater policy and financial independence than voluntary controlled schools. They tend to be religious or faith schools, in Wales typically the Roman Catholic Church or Church in Wales. The governing body employs the staff and sets the entrance criteria and the school buildings and land are usually owned by a charity (often the church).
- Foundation schools – these are owned either by the governing body or by a charitable foundation. The governing body sets the entrance criteria and there is limited local authority control.
- Foundation special schools – these are foundation schools which deliver special education (i.e. to pupils with special educational needs). There are currently no schools of this type in Wales.
- Maintained nursery schools – are local authority controlled schools for children who have not yet reached compulsory school age.
Provisions in relation to such schools are found in Chapter 4 of Part 1 of the School Standards & Framework Act 1998.
In Wales it is no longer possible to establish a new foundation school or bring forward school organisation proposals to change from another category of school to become a foundation school. Similarly it is no longer possible to establish a foundation special school or bring forward school organisation proposals to change from another category of school to become a foundation special school.
It should be noted that academies and free schools exist only in England and it is not possible to establish a new academy or free school in Wales or to change the category of an existing school to become one.