A school is an institution designed to provide learning spaces and
learning environments for the teaching of students (or "pupils") under
the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal
education, which is commonly compulsory. In these
systems, students progress through a series of schools. The names for
these schools vary by country (discussed in the Regional section
below) but generally include primary school for young children and
secondary school for teenagers who have completed primary education.
An institution where higher education is taught, is commonly called a
university college or university.
In addition to these core schools, students in a given country may
also attend schools before and after primary and secondary education.
Kindergarten or pre-school provide some schooling to very young
children (typically ages 3–5). University, vocational school,
college or seminary may be available after secondary school. A school
may be dedicated to one particular field, such as a school of
economics or a school of dance. Alternative schools may provide
nontraditional curriculum and methods.
There are also non-government schools, called private schools. Private
schools may be required when the government does not supply adequate,
or special education. Other private schools can also be religious,
such as Christian schools, madrasa, hawzas (Shi'a schools), yeshivas
(Jewish schools), and others; or schools that have a higher standard
of education or seek to foster other personal achievements. Schools
for adults include institutions of corporate training, military
education and training and business schools.
In home schooling and online schools, teaching and learning take place
outside a traditional school building. Schools are commonly organized
in several different organizational models, including departmental,
small learning communities, academies, integrated, and
2 History and development
3 Regional terms
3.1 United Kingdom and Commonwealth of Nations
3.4 North America and the United States
4 Ownership and operation
4.1 Starting a school
5 Components of most schools
7 Health services
8 Online schools and classes
10 Discipline towards students
11 See also
13 Further reading
The word school derives from Greek σχολή (scholē), originally
meaning "leisure" and also "that in which leisure is employed", but
later "a group to whom lectures were given, school".
History and development
Main article: History of education
Plato's academy, mosaic from Pompeii
The concept of grouping students together in a centralized location
for learning has existed since Classical antiquity. Formal schools
have existed at least since ancient Greece (see Academy), ancient Rome
Education in Ancient Rome) ancient India (see Gurukul), and
ancient China (see
History of education
History of education in China). The Byzantine
Empire had an established schooling system beginning at the primary
level. According to Traditions and Encounters, the founding of the
primary education system began in 425 AD and "... military
personnel usually had at least a primary education ...". The
sometimes efficient and often large government of the Empire meant
that educated citizens were a must. Although Byzantium lost much of
the grandeur of Roman culture and extravagance in the process of
surviving, the Empire emphasized efficiency in its war manuals. The
Byzantine education system continued until the empire's collapse in
In Western Europe a considerable number of cathedral schools were
founded during the
Early Middle Ages
Early Middle Ages in order to teach future clergy
and administrators, with the oldest still existing, and continuously
operated, cathedral schools being The King's School, Canterbury
(established 597 CE),
King's School, Rochester (established 604 CE),
St Peter's School, York
St Peter's School, York (established 627 CE) and Thetford Grammar
School (established 631 CE). Beginning in the 5th century CE monastic
schools were also established throughout Western Europe, teaching both
religious and secular subjects.
Islam was another culture that developed a school system in the modern
sense of the word. Emphasis was put on knowledge, which required a
systematic way of teaching and spreading knowledge, and purpose-built
structures. At first, mosques combined both religious performance and
learning activities, but by the 9th century, the madrassa was
introduced, a school that was built independently from the mosque,
such as al-Qarawiyyin, founded in 859 CE. They were also the first to
Madrassa system a public domain under the control of the
Under the Ottomans, the towns of
Edirne became the main
centers of learning. The Ottoman system of Külliye, a building
complex containing a mosque, a hospital, madrassa, and public kitchen
and dining areas, revolutionized the education system, making learning
accessible to a wider public through its free meals, health care and
sometimes free accommodation.
One-room school in 1935, Alabama
In Europe, universities emerged during the 12th century; here,
scholasticism was an important tool, and the academicians were called
schoolmen. During the
Middle Ages and much of the
Early Modern period,
the main purpose of schools (as opposed to universities) was to teach
Latin language. This led to the term grammar school, which in the
United States informally refers to a primary school, but in the United
Kingdom means a school that selects entrants based on ability or
aptitude. Following this, the school curriculum has gradually
broadened to include literacy in the vernacular language as well as
technical, artistic, scientific and practical subjects.
Mental Calculations. In the school of S.Rachinsky by Nikolay
Bogdanov-Belsky. Russia, 1895.
Obligatory school attendance became common in parts of Europe during
the 18th century. In Denmark-Norway, this was introduced as early as
in 1739-1741, the primary end being to increase the literacy of the
almue, i.e. the "regular people". Many of the earlier public
schools in the United States and elsewhere were one-room schools where
a single teacher taught seven grades of boys and girls in the same
classroom. Beginning in the 1920s, one-room schools were consolidated
into multiple classroom facilities with transportation increasingly
provided by kid hacks and school buses.
A madrasah in the Gambia
Loyola School, Chennai, India — run by the Catholic Diocese of
Madras. Christian missionaries played a pivotal role in establishing
modern schools in India.
The use of the term school varies by country, as do the names of the
various levels of education within the country.
United Kingdom and Commonwealth of Nations
In the United Kingdom, the term school refers primarily to
pre-university institutions, and these can, for the most part, be
divided into pre-schools or nursery schools, primary schools
(sometimes further divided into infant school and junior school), and
secondary schools. Various types of secondary schools in England and
Wales include grammar schools, comprehensives, secondary moderns, and
city academies. In Scotland, while they may have different names, all
Secondary schools are the same, except in that they may be funded by
the state, or independently funded (see next paragraph). It is unclear
if "Academies", which are a hybrid between state and independently
funded/controlled schools and have been introduced to England in
recent years, will ever be introduced to Scotland.
in Scotland is monitored by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education.
Ofsted reports on performance in England and
Estyn reports on
performance in Wales.
In the United Kingdom, most schools are publicly funded and known as
state schools or maintained schools in which tuition is provided free.
There are also private schools or independent schools that charge
fees. Some of the most selective and expensive private schools are
known as public schools, a usage that can be confusing to speakers of
North American English. In North American usage, a public school is
one that is publicly funded or run.
In much of the Commonwealth of Nations, including Australia, New
Zealand, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Kenya,
and Tanzania, the term school refers primarily to pre-university
A school building in Kannur, India
In ancient India, schools were in the form of Gurukuls. Gurukuls were
Hindu residential schools of learning; typically the
teacher's house or a monastery. During the Mughal rule, Madrasahs were
introduced in India to educate the children of Muslim parents. British
records show that indigenous education was widespread in the 18th
century, with a school for every temple, mosque or village in most
regions of the country. The subjects taught included Reading, Writing,
Arithmetic, Theology, Law, Astronomy, Metaphysics, Ethics, Medical
Science and Religion.
Under the British rule in India, Christian missionaries from England,
USA and other countries established missionary and boarding schools
throughout the country. Later as these schools gained in popularity,
more were started and some gained prestige. These schools marked the
beginning of modern schooling in India and the syllabus and calendar
they followed became the benchmark for schools in modern India. Today
most of the schools follow the missionary school model in terms of
tutoring, subject / syllabus, governance etc.with minor changes.
Schools in India range from schools with large campuses with thousands
of students and hefty fees to schools where children are taught under
a tree with a small / no campus and are totally free of cost. There
are various boards of schools in India, namely Central Board for
Education (CBSE), Council for the Indian
Madrasa Boards of various states, Matriculation
Boards of various states, State Boards of various boards, Anglo Indian
Board, and so on. The typical syllabus today includes Language(s),
Mathematics, Science — Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography,
History, General Knowledge, Information Technology / Computer Science
etc.. Extra curricular activities include physical education / sports
and cultural activities like music, choreography, painting, theater /
Chemistry lesson at a German Gymnasium, Bonn, 1988
In much of continental Europe, the term school usually applies to
primary education, with primary schools that last between four and
nine years, depending on the country. It also applies to secondary
education, with secondary schools often divided between Gymnasiums and
vocational schools, which again depending on country and type of
school educate students for between three and six years. In Germany
students graduating from Grundschule are not allowed to directly
progress into a vocational school, but are supposed to proceed to one
of Germany's general education schools such as Gesamtschule,
Realschule or Gymnasium. When they leave that school,
which usually happens at age 15-19 they are allowed to proceed to a
vocational school. The term school is rarely used for tertiary
education, except for some upper or high schools (German: Hochschule),
which describe colleges and universities.
Eastern Europe modern schools (after World War II), of both primary
and secondary educations, often are combined, while secondary
education might be split into accomplished or not. The schools are
classified as middle schools of general education and for the
technical purposes include "degrees" of the education they provide out
of three available: the first — primary, the second —
unaccomplished secondary, and the third — accomplished
secondary. Usually the first two degrees of education (eight years)
are always included, while the last one (two years) gives option for
the students to pursue vocational or specialized educations.
North America and the United States
In North America, the term school can refer to any educational
institution at any level, and covers all of the following: preschool
(for toddlers), kindergarten, elementary school, middle school (also
called intermediate school or junior high school, depending on
specific age groups and geographic region), high school (or in some
cases senior high school), college, university, and graduate school.
In the United States, school performance through high school is
monitored by each state's department of education. Charter schools are
publicly funded elementary or secondary schools that have been freed
from some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other
public schools. The terms grammar school and grade school are
sometimes used to refer to a primary school.
Ownership and operation
Primary school students with their teacher, Colombia, 2014
Many schools are owned or funded by states. Private schools operate
independently from the government. Private schools usually rely on
fees from families whose children attend the school for funding;
however, sometimes such schools also receive government support (for
School vouchers). Many private schools are affiliated
with a particular religion; these are known as parochial schools.
Starting a school
Toronto District School Board
Toronto District School Board is an example of a school board that
allows parents to design and propose new schools.
When designing a school, factors that need to be decided include:
Goals: What is the purpose of education, and what is the school's
Governance: Who will make which decisions?
Parent involvement: In which ways are parents welcome at the school?
Student body: Will it be, for example, a neighbourhood school or a
Student conduct: What behaviour is acceptable, and what happens when
behaviour is inappropriate?
Curriculum: What will be the curriculum model, and who will decide on
Components of most schools
Learning environment and Learning space
A school entrance building in Australia
Schools are organized spaces purposed for teaching and learning. The
classrooms, where teachers teach and students learn, are of central
importance. Classrooms may be specialized for certain subjects, such
as laboratory classrooms for science education and workshops for
industrial arts education.
Typical schools have many other rooms and areas, which may include:
Cafeteria (Commons), dining hall or canteen where students eat lunch
and often breakfast and snacks.
Athletic field, playground, gym, and/or track place where students
participating in sports or physical education practice
School yards, that is, all-purpose playfields typically in elementary
schools, often made of concrete, although some are being transformed
into environmentally friendly teaching gardens by landscape artists
such as Sharon Gamson Danks.
Auditorium or hall where student theatrical and musical productions
can be staged and where all-school events such as assemblies are held
Office where the administrative work of the school is done
Library where students ask librarians reference questions, check out
books and magazines, and often use computers
Computer labs where computer-based work is done and the internet
To curtail violence, some schools have added
cameras. This is especially common in schools with excessive gang
activity or violence.
The safety of staff and students is increasingly becoming an issue for
school communities, an issue most schools are addressing through
improved security. Some have also taken measures such as installing
metal detectors or video surveillance. Others have even taken measures
such as having the children swipe identification cards as they board
the school bus. For some schools, these plans have included the use of
door numbering to aid public safety response.[clarification needed]
Other security concerns faced by schools include bomb threats, gangs,
vandalism, and bullying.
School health services
School health services
School health services are services from medical, teaching and other
professionals applied in or out of school to improve the health and
well-being of children and in some cases whole families. These
services have been developed in different ways around the globe but
the fundamentals are constant: the early detection, correction,
prevention or amelioration of disease, disability and abuse from which
school-aged children can suffer.
Online schools and classes
Main article: Virtual school
Some schools offer remote access to their classes over the Internet.
Online schools also can provide support to traditional schools, as in
the case of the
School Net Namibia. Some online classes also provide
experience in a class, so that when people take them, they have
already been introduced to the subject and know what to expect, and
even more classes provide High School/
College credit allowing people
to take the classes at their own pace. Many online classes cost money
to take but some are offered free.
Internet-based distance learning programs are offered widely through
many universities. Instructors teach through online activities and
assignments. Online classes are taught the same as physically being in
class with the same curriculum. The instructor offers the syllabus
with their fixed requirements like any other class. Students can
virtually turn their assignments in to their instructors according to
deadlines. This being through via email or in the course webpage. This
allowing students to work at their own pace, yet meeting the correct
deadline. Students taking an online class have more flexibility in
their schedules to take their classes at a time that works best for
them. Conflicts with taking an online class may include not being face
to face with the instructor when learning or being in an environment
with other students. Online classes can also make understanding the
content difficult, especially when not able to get in quick contact
with the instructor. Online students do have the advantage of using
other online sources with assignments or exams for that specific
class. Online classes also have the advantage of students not needing
to leave their house for a morning class or worrying about their
attendance for that class. Students can work at their own pace to
learn and achieve within that curriculum.
The convenience of learning at home has been a major attractive point
for enrolling online. Students can attend class anywhere a computer
can go—at home, a library or while traveling internationally. Online
school classes are designed to fit your needs, while allowing you to
continue working and tending to your other obligations. Online
school education is divided into three subcategories: Online
Elementary School, Online Middle School, Online High school.
As a profession, teaching has levels of work-related stress (WRS)
that are among the highest of any profession in some countries, such
as the United Kingdom and the United States. The degree of this
problem is becoming increasingly recognized and support systems are
being put into place.
Teacher education increasingly
recognizes the need to train those new to the profession to be aware
of and overcome mental health challenges they may face.[citation
Stress sometimes affects students more severely than teachers, up to
the point where the students are prescribed stress medication. This
stress is claimed to be related to standardized testing, and the
pressure on students to score above average. See Cram school.
According to a 2008 mental health study by the Associated Press and
mtvU, eight in 10 college students[where?] said they
had sometimes or frequently experienced stress in their daily lives.
This was an increase of 20% from a survey five years previously. 34
percent had felt depressed at some point in the past three months, 13
percent had been diagnosed with a mental health condition such as an
anxiety disorder or depression, and 9 percent had seriously considered
Discipline towards students
Djiboutian primary schoolgirl
Schools and their teachers have always been under pressure —
for instance, pressure to cover the curriculum, to perform well in
comparison to other schools, and to avoid the stigma of being "soft"
or "spoiling" toward students. Forms of discipline, such as control
over when students may speak, and normalized behaviour, such as
raising a hand to speak, are imposed in the name of greater
efficiency. Practitioners of critical pedagogy maintain that such
disciplinary measures have no positive effect on student learning.
Indeed, some argue that disciplinary practices detract from learning,
saying that they undermine students' individual dignity and sense of
self-worth—the latter occupying a more primary role in students'
hierarchy of needs.
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School and university in literature
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^ School, on Oxford Dictionaries
^ σχολή, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English
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^ Bentley, Jerry H. (2006). Traditions & Encounters a Global
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^ 13 October 2010, Amanda Marrazzo, Chicago Tribune, Nature's
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^ 9 March 2011,
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By educational stage
Adult high school
Sixth form college
University technical college
Institute of technology
Upper division college
By funding / eligibility
Free school (England)
UK Independent school
State or public school
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By style of education
Folk high school
Ancient higher-learning institutions
Schools imposed on
in New Zealand
in the United States
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Informal or illegal
in South Tyrol