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This article is about schools that are publicly funded. For the privately funded schools known as public schools in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries, see Public school .

In most of the world, excluding Englandmarker and Walesmarker and some Commonwealth countries, a public school is an educational institution that is funded with tax revenue and most commonly administered by a local government or government agency. In Englandmarker and Walesmarker, the equivalent term would be state school.

North and South America

United States

Public-school education is the most common form of education in the United States and is provided mainly by local governments, with control and funding coming from three levels: federal, state, and local. Curricula, funding, teaching, and other policies are set through locally elected school boards by jurisdiction over school districts. The school districts are special-purpose districts authorized by provisions of state law. Generally, state governments can and do set minimum standards relating to almost all activities of primary and secondary schools, as well as funding and authorization to enact local school taxes to support the schools—primarily through real property taxes. The federal government funds aid to states and school districts that meet minimum federal standards. School accreditation decisions are made by voluntary regional associations. The first free public school in America was the Syms-Eaton Academy (1634) in Hampton, Virginiamarker, while the first tax-supported public school in America was in Dedham, Massachusettsmarker. In the United States, 88% of students attend public schools, compared with 9% who attend parochial schools, 1% who attend private independent schools, and 2% who are home-schooled.

Public school is normally split up into three stages: elementary (also called "primary") school (kindergarten to 5th or 6th grade), middle (also called "intermediate" or "junior high") school (6th or 7th grade to 8th or 9th grade), and high school ((9th to 12th, also called "secondary school").

The middle school format is increasing common, in which the elementary school contains kindergarten through 5th grade and the Middle School contains 6th through 8th grade. In addition, some elementary schools are splitting into two levels, sometimes in separate buildings: primary school (usually K-2) and intermediate (3-5).

The K-8th format is also an emerging popular concept, in which students may attend only two schools for all of their K-12 education. Many charter schools feature the K-8 format in which all primary grades are housed in one section of the school while the traditional junior high school aged students are housed in another section of the school. Some very small school districts, primarily in rural areas, still maintain a K-12 system in which all students are housed in a single school.

In the United Statesmarker, institutions of higher education that are operated and subsidized by U.S. states are also referred to as "public." However, unlike public secondary schools, public universities charge tuition, though these fees are usually much lower than those charged by private universities, particularly for "in-state" students. Community colleges, state collegesmarker, and state universities are examples of public institutions of higher education. In particular, many state universities are regarded as among the best institutions of higher education in the U.S., though usually they are surpassed in ranking by certain private universities and colleges, such as those of the Ivy League, which are often very expensive and extremely selective in the students they accept. In several states, the administrations of public universities are elected via the general electoral ballot.


Per the Canadian constitution, public-school education in Canada is a provincial responsibility and, as such, there are many variations between the provinces. Junior Kindergarten (or equivalent) exists as an official program in only Ontario and Quebec while kindergarten (or equivalent) is available in every province, but provincial funding and the level of hours provided varies widely. Starting at grade one, at about age five there is universal Crown-funded access up to grade twelve (or equivalent). Schools are generally divided into elementary or primary schools (Kindergarten to Grade 8), and secondary, or high school (Grades 9 to 12); in some schools, particularly in rural areas, the elementary and middle levels can be combined into one school. Commencing in 2003, Grade 13, or OAC, was eliminated in Ontario; it had previously been required only for students who intended to go on to university. Children are required to attend school until the age of sixteen in most provinces, while students in Ontario and New Brunswick must attend schools until the age of eighteen.

Some Canadian provinces offer segregated-by-religious-choice, but nonetheless Crown-funded and Crown-regulated, religiously-based education. In Ontariomarker, for example, Roman Catholic schools are known as "Catholic school", not "public school", although these are, by definition, no less "public" than their secular counterparts.

Central and South America

In some countries, such as Brazilmarker and Mexicomarker, the term "public schools" (escuelas públicas in Spanish, escolas públicas in Portuguese) is used for educational institutions owned by the federal, state, or city governments which do not charge tuition. Such schools exist in all levels of education, from the very beginning through post-secondary studies. Mexico has nine years of free and compulsory primary and secondary education. The later years of schooling are comparable to the state university systems in most US states.



The Danishmarker School system is supported today by tax-based governmental and municipal funding from day care through primary and secondary education to higher education and there are no tuition fees for regular students in public schools and universities.

The Danish public primary schools, covering the entire period of compulsory education, are called folkeskoler (literally 'people's schools' or 'public schools'). The Folkeskole consists of a voluntary pre-school class, the 9-year obligatory course and a voluntary 10th year. It thus caters for pupils aged 6 to 17.

It is also possible for parents to send their children to various kinds of private schools. These schools also receive government funding, although they are not public. In addition to this funding, these schools may charge a fee from the parents.


In Irelandmarker, a public school ( ) is a non fee-paying school which is funded by the State, while a private school ( ) is a fee-paying school which is not funded by the State.


One of the schools in France
One of the schools in France
The French educational system is highly centralized, organized, and ramified. It is divided into three stages:
  • primary education (enseignement primaire);
  • secondary education (enseignement secondaire);
  • tertiary or college education (enseignement supérieur)

PrimarySchooling in Francemarker is mandatory as of age 6, the first year of primary school. Many parents start sending their children earlier though, around age 3 as kindergarten classes (maternelle) are usually affiliated to a borough's (commune) primary school. Some even start earlier at age 2 in pré-maternelle or garderie class, which is essentially a daycare facility.

French secondary education is divided into two schools:
  • the collège for the first four years directly following primary school;
  • the lycée for the next three years.

The completion of secondary studies leads to the baccalauréat.


The baccalauréat (also known as bac) is the end-of-lycée diploma students sit for in order to enter university, a Classe Préparatoire aux Grandes Écoles, or professional life. The term baccalauréat refers to the diploma and the examinations themselves. It is comparable to Britishmarker A-Levels, Americanmarker SATs, the Irishmarker Leaving Certificate and Germanmarker Abitur.

Most students sit for the baccalauréat général which is divided into 3 streams of study, called séries. The série scientifique (S) is concerned with mathematics and natural sciences, the série économique et sociale (ES) with economics and social sciences, and the série littéraire (L) focuses on French and foreign languages and philosophy.

One of the schools in France
Tertiary education
  • Peculiarities
A striking trait of higher education in France, compared to other countries such as the United Statesmarker, is the small size and multiplicity of establishments, each specialized in a more or less broad spectrum of disciplines. A middle-sized French city, such as Grenoblemarker or Nancymarker, may have 2 or 3 universities (for instance: science / humanities), and also a number of engineering and other specialized higher education establishments. For instance, in Parismarker and suburbs, there are 13 universities, most of which are specialized on one area or the other, and a large number of smaller institutions.
  • Grandes écoles & classes préparatoires (CPGE : Classes Préparatoires aux Grandes Ecoles)
The Grandes écoles of Francemarker are higher education establishments outside the mainstream framework of the public universities. They are generally focused on a single subject area, such as engineering, have a moderate size, and are often quite (sometimes extremely) selective in their admission of students. They are widely regarded as prestigious, and traditionally have produced most of France's scientists and executives.


One of the schools in Germany
Education in Germanymarker is provided to a large extent by the government, with control coming from state level, (Länder) and funding coming from two levels: federal and state. Curricula, funding, teaching, and other policies are set through the respective states ministry of education. Decisions about the acknowledgment of private schools (the German equivalent to accreditation in the US) are also made by these ministries. However, public schools are automatically recognised, since these schools are supervised directly by the ministry of education bureaucracy.

Kindergartens are not part of the German public school system. (Although the first kindergarten in the world was opened in 1840 by Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel in the German town of Bad Blankenburgmarker, and the term Kindergarten is even a loanword from the German language). Article 7 Paragraph 6 of the German constitution (the Grundgesetz) abolished pre-school as part of the German school system. However, kindergartens exist all over Germany, where many of these institutions actually are public, but these kindergartens are controlled by local authorities, charging tuition fees and are likewise not considered to be part of the public school system.

School named after Goethe
A German public school does not charge tuition fees. The first stage of the German public school system is the Grundschule. (Primary School - 1st to 4th grade or, in Berlinmarker and Brandenburgmarker, 1st to 6th grade) After Grundschule (at 10 or 12 years of age), there are four secondary schooling options:
  • Hauptschule (the least academic, much like a modernized Volksschule) until 9th or, in Berlin and North Rhine-Westphaliamarker until 10th Grade.
  • Realschule (formerly Mittelschule) until 10th grade.
  • Gymnasium (high school) until 12th grade or 13th grade (with Abitur as exit exam, qualifying for admission to university).
  • Gesamtschule (comprehensive school) with all the options of the three "tracks" above.

A Gesamtschule largely corresponds to an American high school. However, it offers the same school leaving certificates as the other three types of German secondary schools - the Hauptschulabschluss (school leaving certificate of a Hauptschule after 9th Grade or in Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia after 10th Grade), the Realschulabschluss, also called Mittlere Reife, (school leaving certificate of a Realschule after 10th Grade) and Abitur, also called Hochschulreife, after 13th or seldom after 12th Grade. Students who graduate from Hauptschule or Realschule continue their schooling at a vocational school until they have full job qualifications.This type of German school, the Berufsschule, is generally an upper-secondary public vocational school, controlled by the German federal government. It is part of Germany's dual education system. Students who graduate from a vocational school and students who graduate with good GPA from a Realschule can continue their schooling at another type of German public secondary school, the Fachoberschule, a vocational high school. The school leaving exam of this type of school, the Fachhochschulreife, enables the graduate to start studying at a Fachhochschule (polytechnic), and in Hessemarker also at a university within the state. The Abitur from a Gesamtschule or Gymnasium enables the graduate to start studying at a polytechnic or at a university in all states of Germany.

More modern school in Germany
In Germany, most institutions of higher education are subsidized by German states and are therefore also referred to as staatliche Hochschulen. (public universities) In some German states, admission to public universities is still cheap, about two hundred Euro per semester, but most of the states introduced additional fees of 500 Euro per semester to achieve a better teaching-quality. Additional fees for guest or graduate students are also charged by many universities.


In Scotland, the term public school, in official use since 1872, traditionally means "a state-controlled school run by the local burgh or county education authority, genenerlly non-fee-paying and supported by contributions from local and national taxation". Largely due to the earlier introduction of state-administered universal education in Scotland and opposed to the rest of the United Kingdom, the term became associated with state schools. The designation was incorporated into the name of many of these older publicly run institutions. Influence from the rest of the UK has lead to some ambiguity in meaning. In order to avoid confusion, the term 'state school' is also commonly used in Scotland.

However at the same time, a number of well-known independent schools are also commonly referred to as public schools, in line with the prevalent practice in the rest of the UK. A number of these schools also offer qualifications more prevalent in the other parts of the UK such as the A-level alongside the more common system offered by the Scottish Qualifications Authority described below.

Children in Scottish state schools (or public schools) typically start primary school, or attend a junior school, aged between four and a half and five and a half depending on when the child's birthday falls. Children born between March and August would start school at five years old and those born between September and February start school at age four-and-a-half. Pupils remain at primary school for seven years completing Primary One to Seven.

Then aged eleven or twelve, they start secondary school for a compulsory four years with the final two years being optional. Pupils sit Standard Grade exams at the age of fifteen/sixteen, sometimes earlier, most often for up to eight subjects including compulsory exams in English, mathematics, a foreign language, a science subject and a social subject; it is now required by the Scottish Parliament to have two hours of physical education a week. Each school may vary these compulsory combinations. The school leaving age is generally sixteen (after completion of standard grade), after which students may choose to remain at school and study for Access, Intermediate or Higher Grade and Advanced Higher exams.


Education in Australia follows a three tier model: primary, secondary and tertiary education. Education is primarily regulated by the individual state governments, not the federal government. Education is compulsory up to an age specified by legislation; this age varies but is generally 15 or 16, that is prior to completing secondary education.

Under the Australian Government’s Schools Assistance (Learning Together – Achievement Through Choice and Opportunity) Act 2004, all education authorities, including non-government schools, have now committed to implement a common school starting age by 1 January 2010 and a common description (nomenclature) for the year before Year 1 and the two years before Year 1.

Post-compulsory education is regulated within the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), a unified system of national qualifications in schools, vocational education and training (TAFEs and private providers) and the higher education sector (mainly universities).

State orTerritory Minimumage Age in the yearbefore Year 1 Compulsory age Nomenclature yearbefore school Nomenclature yearbefore Year 1
NSW 4.5 Turn 5 by 31 July Year in whichchildren turn 6 Pre-school Kindergarten
QLD 4.6 By 2007, turn 5 by30 June Year in whichchildren turn 6.64 Kindergarten /Preschool Preparatory
VIC 4.8 Turn 5 by 30 April Year in whichchildren turn 6 Kindergarten Preparatory
WA 4.6 Turn 5 by 30 June Year in whichchildren turn 6.6 Kindergarten Pre-Primary
SA 4.5 Continuous entry in theterm after 5th birthday Year in whichchildren turn 6 Kindergarten Reception
TAS 4.5 Turn 5 by 1 January Year after turning 5 Kindergarten Preparatory
ACT 5.0 Turn 5 by 30 April Year in whichchildren turn 6 Pre-school Kindergarten
NT 5.0 By 2006, turn 5 by30 June Year in whichchildren turn 6 Pre-school Transition

Primary and Secondary

A primary school in rural Victoria.
Primary and secondary education may be provided by:
  • Government schools (also known as State schools, or public schools)
  • Independent schools (the older of these institutions are sometimes called Public School)
There has been a strong drift of students to independent schools during the past decade.

Government schools educate the majority of students and do not charge large tuition fees (most do charge a fee as a contribution to costs). The major part of their costs is met by the relevant State or Territory government. Independent schools, both religious or secular (the latter often with specialisations), may charge much higher fees.

Whilst independent schools are sometimes considered 'public' schools like their English counterparts (as in the Associated Public Schools of Victoria), in some states of Australia, the term 'public school' is usually synonymous with a government school.

Government schools can be divided into two types: open and selective. The open schools accept all students from their government defined catchment areas, while selective schools have high entrance requirements and cater to a much larger area. Entrance to selective schools is often highly competitive. In Victoriamarker, for example, more than 3000 applicants sit the entrance exam each year competing for the 600 available places at Mac.Robertson Girls' High Schoolmarker and Melbourne High Schoolmarker.


Hong Kong

In Hong Kongmarker the term government schools is used for free schools funded by the government.

There are also subsidized schools (which are the majority in Hong Kong and many of which are run by Religious organizations), "Direct Subsidy Scheme" schools, private schools and international schools in Hong Kong.


South Africa

In South Africa, the South African Schools Act of 1996 recognised two categories of schools: public and independent. Independent schools include all private schools and schools that are privately governed. Independent schools with low tuition fees are state-aided and receive a subsidy on a sliding-scale. Traditional private schools that charge high fees receive no state subsidy.

Public schools are all state-owned schools, including section 21 schools (formerly referred to as Model C or semi-private schools) that have a governing body and a degree of budget autonomy, as these are still fully-owned and accountable to the state.


  1. Scottish National Dictionary

See also

External links

and people love all of our school and that is the good part about it

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