All parents have a legal obligation to educate their children, although how they do this is left largely up to the parents.
The vast majority of children go to schools provided free of charge, although many parents choose private nursery schools for their children up to the age of five, and 7% of children and teenagers attend private (sometimes called independent or, in some cases “public”) schools which charge fees.
Some schools are single sex, most cater for both sexes. Some schools have a strong connection with a religious faith, most cater for youngsters who come from all faiths.
All state funded schools must teach the National Curriculum although how they teach it is up to the school. Private schools do not have to teach this Curriculum. However all schools (state funded and private) are inspected and can be shut if found to be failing in terms of national guidelines.
Broadly speaking the schools break down into four groups (Figures are for the whole of the UK). All students must continue in some form of education until the age of 18, although after 16 there is a wide variety of choice.
Here are a few numbers that might be helpful - they all relate to the UK in total.
Secondary Schools: 5000
Primary Schools: 22,700
Special Schools: 1,800
Nursery schools: 11,000
FE Colleges: 280
These include the headteacher, deputy head, and heads of teaching departments such as the Head of Maths or Head of Music. In primary schools however there tends to be classroom teachers and then subject co-ordinators. The amount of decision-making power each one has depends entirely on the size of the school.
Although decision- making in terms of buying new product and services is in the hands of heads, deputies, and senior managers such as heads of teaching departments, a significant amount of influence is to be found among classroom teachers in both primary and secondary schools.
Administrators, school business managers and bursars
Of course, if you are promoting a set of GCSE maths books then the person you need to reach is the head of maths. If you can reach the other maths teachers also teaching GCSE in the school, so much the better.
But if you are selling photocopiers, scanners, or other office equipment it is vital to get to the administrator, school business manager, and/or bursar in the school.
Yet many companies ignore this vital sector in schools, and as a result these individuals get only a fraction of the promotional material others get.
For example, there is a growing interest in schools at the possibility of following the NHS in moving across from paper records (requiring as they do multiple filing cabinets that take up a lot of space, and providing a significant risk of being lost through mis-filing or fire) to a digital record system. But some companies have tried to promote this to headteachers, who are not primarily concerned with the need for more space in the school office. It is always important to reach the people who will be affected by an issue, as well as the ultimate decision-maker.