Education in britain is compulsory from the age of 5 up to the age of 16. About 93% of britain's students receive free education from state schools. The others attend independent (or private) schools, which are separate from the state educational system. In the state school system, children generally receive primary education until they are 11, when they go to secondary school. About 87% of secondary school students from 11 to 16 or 18 go to comprehensive schools providing a wide range of secondary education. A minority of students attend grammar schools; these offer a more academic education but students have to sit an entrance examination. Recently blair's government has decided to replace weak and failing schools- mostly in the poorer cuncils- with academies. Academies are state funded and free to students but they have much more independence than most secondary schools. They are established by sponsors from business, faith or voluntary groups working with the community, and they can be more flexible with their curriculum and staffing to meet local needs.
The labour government has set a target of 200 city academies by 2010. About 7% of all schoolchildren in england attend independent schools for which their parents sometimes pay very high fees. in the past independent schools (also called "public schools" because students could come from any part of england) were mainly grammar schools, stressing classical education and sports, but nowdays their course of studies is more similar to state education.