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Learning and training opportunties for all age groups

Children, young people and adults in Cambridge have access to a wide range of educational establishments. In addition to nursery, primary and special schools, there are 2 universities in Cambridge, 8 sixth-form colleges, and 8 further education colleges. 225 schools are maintained by Cambridgeshire County Council.



Cambridgeshire has a completely comprehensive education system with 12 independent schools and over 240 state schools, not including sixth form colleges. Some of the secondary schools act as Village Colleges- institutions unique to Cambridgeshire.

All school age children in England are entitled to a free place at a state school. The four main types of state school all receive funding from local authorities. They all follow the National Curriculum and are regularly inspected by Ofsted.

Main types of Schools

Foundation and Trust schoolsFoundation schools are run by their own governing body, which employs the staff and sets the admissions criteria. Land and buildings are usually owned by the governing body or a charitable foundation. A Trust school is a type of foundation school which forms a charitable trust with an outside partner – for example, a business or educational charity – aiming to raise standards and explore new ways of working. The decision to become a Trust school is taken by the governing body, with parents having a say.
Voluntary-aided schoolsVoluntary-aided schools are mainly religious or ‘faith’ schools, although anyone can apply for a place. As with foundation schools, the governing body employs the staff and sets the admissions criteria. School buildings and land are normally owned by a charitable foundation, often a religious organisation. The governing body contributes to building and maintenance costs.
Voluntary-controlled schoolsVoluntary-controlled schools are similar to voluntary aided schools, but are run by the local authority. As with community schools, the local authority employs the school’s staff and sets the admissions criteria. School land and buildings are normally owned by a charity, often a religious organisation, which also appoints some of the members of the governing body.
Community schoolsA community school is run by the local authority, which employs the staff, owns the land and buildings and decides which ‘admissions criteria’ to use (these are used to allocate places if the school has more applicants than places). Community schools look to develop strong links with the local community, sometimes offering use of their facilities and providing services like childcare and adult learning classes.

State schools with particular characteristics

Within the state schools system described above, there are a number of schools with particular characteristics. As with other state schools, admissions are coordinated by the local authority. However, some may have different admission criteria or funding arrangements.

AcademiesAcademies are independently managed, all-ability schools. They are set up by sponsors from business, faith or voluntary groups in partnership with the Department for Education (DfE) and the local authority. Together they fund the land and buildings, with the government covering the running costs.
Community and foundation special schoolsSpecial schools cater for children with specific special educational needs. These may include physical disabilities or learning difficulties.
Faith schoolsFaith schools are mostly run in the same way as other state schools. However, their faith status may be reflected in their religious education curriculum, admissions criteria and staffing policies.
Independent schoolsThere are around 21 independent schools for 4 to 16 year olds in Cambridgeshire, and others aimed at sixth form students. These schools set their own curriculum and admissions policies. They are funded by fees paid by parents and income from investments. Every independent school must be registered with the DfE. Standards are regularly monitored by either Ofsted or an inspectorate approved by the Secretary of State, ensuring that the school maintains the standards set out in its registration document.

Secondary education

The village college is an institution specific to Cambridgeshire. It caters for the education of 11 to 16 year olds during the day and provides educational and leisure facilities to adults out of school hours. Village colleges were the brainchild of Henry Morris, the then Chief Education Officer for Cambridgeshire, who had a vision of a school that would serve the whole community, stem migration from the countryside to the towns, and provide a decent education to pupils who had previously only been served by the upper years of Elementary schools.

Under Morris’ influence, many of the colleges have had distinguished architects, notably the one at Impington designed by Walter Gropius and Maxwell Fry. There are village colleges throughout Cambridgeshire, including Bassingbourn, Bottisham, Burwell, Comberton, Cottenham, Gamlingay, Impington, Linton, Melbourn, Sawston, Soham, Swavesey and Witchford. Sawston Village College was the first village college to open, in 1930, followed by Bottisham Village College in 1937. Burwell Village College is in fact a Primary School.

Higher Education


Cambridge is home to two universities: the University of Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and is ranked second in the world; and Anglia Ruskin University – one of the largest in the East of England with a total student population of around 31,500. Its campuses are located in Cambridge, Chelmsford and Peterborough.

Other Institutes of Higher Education

The County is home to a number of institutes of higher education:

Long Road Sixth Form CollegeState funded co-educational sixth form college situated on Long Road from which it draws its name; located next to the Campus The college provides full-time AS and A-level courses in addition to GCSE retake courses and many vocational courses.
Hills Road Sixth Form College State-funded co-educational sixth form college providing full-time AS and A-level courses for approximately 1,900 sixth form students from the surrounding area and a wide variety of courses to around 4,000 part-time students of all ages in the adult education programme, held as daytime and evening classes.
Cambridge Regional CollegeThe college offers courses in a wide range of subjects from hair and beauty to media studies, as well as apprenticeship programmes. It attracts British students from a 40-mile radius across the eastern region and is also popular with overseas students studying English, often alongside other subjects. It is one of the largest providers of full-time further education for 16 to 19 year-olds in the region, with more than 4,000 full-time and 6,000 part-time students.
College of West AngliaCWA is one of the largest and most successful education and training providers in the Eastern Region and amongst the top colleges in the country.
The Open University80 staff and 800 part-time tutors support more than 21,000 students in the East of England by phone, email and through face-to-face and online tutorials at 25 study local centres across the region.


International Schools

Impington Village CollegeImpington Village College has been an IB World School since July 1990. It offers the IB Diploma Programme. The school is state funded.
Parkside Community College Parkside Community College has been an IB World School since October 2010. It offers the IB Diploma Programme. The school is state funded.
The Stephen Perse FoundationThe Stephen Perse Foundation has been an IB World School since November 2007. It offers the IB Diploma Programme. The school is private.

IBSCA is the International Baccalaureate Schools and Colleges Association of the UK and Ireland. Membership is open to all UK and Ireland schools and colleges which are recognised as IB World Schools.

Breakfast and After-school Clubs

An up-to-date list is held on the Cambridgeshire County Council Family Information Directory. The list is easy to search by postcode and the information includes eligibility, timings, cost and whether or not childcare vouchers can be used.

After-school clubs

Breakfast clubs

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