Difference Between School and Academy

School vs Academy

The difference between school and academy is somewhat confusing as the word academy has two meanings. The word school is so common that we all think of a school as soon as formal education is discussed. A school is not just a building or a congregation of kids and teachers; it is much more than that. It is a symbol of the knowledge base that is provided to a child in his formative years that he uses all his life. There are some countries where there are schools as well as academies that are also involved in providing formal education. People remain confused between schools and academies, and cannot decide if they should send their kids to an academy or not, for formal education. This article attempts to highlight the differences between a school and an academy to enable parents to choose either of the two institutions that suit the requirements of their kids in a more meaningful manner.

What is School?

The school is a place where people receive formal education. The system of formal education is mostly compulsory in all parts of the world and follows a set pattern that involves passing through elementary (or primary), middle, and secondary schools. In most countries, there is a board made by the government that conducts examinations at 10 and 10+2 levels, and grants certifications to successful students. The formal education does not end with the school as kids choose to pursue higher studies. Thus, children enroll in colleges and universities, to complete undergraduate and postgraduate level of courses. It is the system of school that forms the backbone of education in any country.

Difference Between School and Academy

What is Academy?

Usually, an academy since the time of Plato is a body of like-minded professionals. For example, in every country, usually, you will see an academy of scientists where scientists have an opportunity to discuss their work and such. Therefore, the name academy is always associated with brilliance.

Though it is common to see academies in all parts of the world, it is in England that they are strikingly similar to schools and provide formal education in much the same way. If anything, academies come under the direct control of the central government as against schools that are under the jurisdiction of local governments. An academy is rather independent in terms of curriculum, and also receives support both financial, as well as material, from various sponsors. It is seen that most academies start admitting students from the secondary level though, there are exceptions to this rule with academies also admitting kids at nursery level.

The history of academies in England is not very old, and they were established in the year 2000 by the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He introduced the schools to improve the performance of the students. The number of academies has been increasing gradually since then and, by 2014, there were 3304 academies in England.

 School vs Academy

The Royal Society of Arts is an academy

As far as the rest of the world is concerned, we see academies that are bodies of engineers, scientists, and other professionals, though some schools choose to name themselves as academies. So there are academies of art and culture, sports, science and space, and so on. However, these schools have only chosen the name academy because the word academy is associated with brilliance.

What is the difference between School and Academy?

• Definition of School and Academy:

• School represents a system of formal education that is compulsory and is followed in all parts of the world.

• Academies are bodies of like-minded professionals in many parts of the world.

• Other Meanings:

• School has no other meaning in the field of education.

• However, in England, academies that were founded by British PM Tony Blair in 2000 have been performing the same functions as those of schools, and today there are 3304 academies.

• Funding:

• Usually, schools are funded by the local government or the central government.

• Academies of professionals are funded by the state or private organizations.

• Academies in England are funded by the central government. They also have other sponsors, while schools are funded by local governments.

• Structure:

• The school structure is usually decided by the government in state schools and by the school board in private schools.

• Structure of the academy (the organization) is decided by the members of the organization.

• In England, the structure of academy schools is decided by the central government.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Elementary school in Japan by ajari (CC BY 2.0)
  2. The Royal Society of Arts building in London, England by  CGP (CC BY 3.0)