Independent school

An independent school is independent in its finances and governance. Also known as private schools, non-governmental, privately funded, or non-state schools,[1] they are not administered by local, state or national governments. In British English, an independent school usually refers to a school which is endowed, i.e. held by a trust, charity, or foundation, while a private school is one that is privately owned.[2]

Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, one of the oldest independent boarding schools in the United States
Share enrolled in private institutions at the pre-primary education level (2015)
Share enrolled in private institutions at the primary education level (2015)
Share enrolled in private institutions at the tertiary education level (2015)

Independent schools are usually not dependent upon national or local government to finance their financial endowment. They typically have a board of governors who are elected independently of government and have a system of governance that ensures their independent operation.

Children who attend such schools may be there because they (or their parents) are dissatisfied with government-funded schools (in UK state schools) in their area. They may be selected for their academic prowess, prowess in other fields, or sometimes their religious background. Private schools retain the right to select their students and are funded in whole or in part by charging their students for tuition, rather than relying on taxation through public (government) funding; at some private schools students may be eligible for a scholarship, lowering this tuition fee, dependent on a student's talents or abilities (e.g., sports scholarship, art scholarship, academic scholarship), need for financial aid, or tax credit scholarships[3] that might be available. Roughly one in 10 U.S. families have chosen to enroll their children in private school for the past century.[4]

Some private schools are associated with a particular religion, such as Roman Catholicism, Judaism, or Protestantism. Although independent schools may have a religious affiliation, the precise use of the term excludes parochial (and other) schools if there is a financial dependence upon, or governance subordinate to, outside organizations. These definitions generally apply equally to both primary and secondary education.


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