Private school

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Private schools, or independent schools, are schools not administered by local or national government, which retain the right to select their student body and are funded in whole or in part by charging their students tuition rather than with public (state) funds. In the United Kingdom and some other Commonwealth countries the use of the term is generally restricted to primary and secondary educational levels: it is almost never used of universities or other tertiary institutions.


Types of private school in North America

Private education covers the whole gamut of educational activity. Private schools range from pre-school to tertiary level institutions.

The secondary level includes schools offering grades 7 through 12 and post-graduate or grade 13. This category includes preparatory schools or "prep schools", boarding schools and day schools. Tuition at private secondary schools varies from school to school and depends on many factors, including the location of the school, the willingness of parents to pay, peer tuitions, and the endowment. High tuition, schools claim, is used to pay higher salaries for the best teachers, and also used to provide enriched learning environments including a low student to teacher ratio, small class sizes and services such as libraries, science laboratories, and computers. Many private schools are boarding schools. Some military schools are privately owned or operated as well.

Trade or vocational schools are also usually private schools where students can learn skills in a trade which they intend to make their future occupation. Trade schools exist in a variety of occupations from cosmetology schools to schools for the performing arts.

Religiously affiliated schools (also called parochial schools, though this term is often used to denote Catholic-affiliated schools from Protestant-affiliated ones) form a distinct category of private school. Such schools teach religious lessons, often alongside a secular education, to instill religious knowledge and a strong religious identity in the students who attend.

Many alternative schools, such as independent schools, are also privately financed. Private schools can often avoid some state regulations which might make alternative methods of schooling more difficult, and they are often easier for a small group of committed parents or teachers to create and maintain than state-funded schools.

Finally, special assistance schools aim to improve the lives of their students by providing services tailored to very specific needs of individual students. Such schools include tutoring schools and schools to assist the learning of handicapped children.

Types of private school in England and Wales

Generally called independent schools because of their freedom to operate outside of government regulation, private schools are favoured by a significant minority of parents because of their frequent achievement of academic standards higher than those of the state sector. Independent primary schools are called preparatory schools, preparing pupils not for admission to a university as in the United States, but to an independent secondary school. Such independent secondary schools are often - somewhat confusingly - called public schools, though this term is primarily used of the older and more prestigious schools, like Eton and Harrow. Many of these schools are boarding schools.

Due to their ancient foundation, many public schools have a religious character, although this does not generally aim at pupils' religious indoctrination and does not preclude pupils of other faiths attending if they wish. Religion is not as important an aspect in the majority of parents' decision to send their child to an independent school as it is in the United States, due to the requirement of state schools to timetable periods of Christian worship.

Although the majority of independent schools in England and Wales aim at high academic standards, a small number provide support for those experiencing difficulties in mainstream education.

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