A public school, in common British usage, is a school that is neither administered nor financed by the state (that is, central or local government) or from taxpayer contributions, and is instead funded by a combination of endowments, tuition fees and charitable contributions, usually existing as a non profit-making charitable trust. (For the US usage of the term, see Publicly Funded Schools
.) In British usage, a government-run school (which would be called a 'public school' in other areas, such as the United States
) is known as a 'State School
Whether the term <em>public school</em> can be applied to all of the several thousand independent schools
in the UK is a matter for debate. Whilst some schools describe themselves as public schools (possibly to attract international students), many others are now known as independent schools, to both avoid any confusion with government-run schools, and to differentiate themselves in the UK from the very small number of for-profit private schools which lack charitable status.
The term 'public' was adopted from the Public Schools Act 1868
and refers to the fact that the school is open to the paying public from anywhere in the country, as opposed to, for example, a local school only open for local residents, or a religious school open only to those part of a certain church, or private education at home (usually only practical for the very wealthy, such as the nobility, who could afford tutors).
Prior to the Clarendon...