Public school (United Kingdom)

In England and Wales, a public school is a type of fee-charging private school[1] originally for older boys. They are "public" in the sense of being open to pupils irrespective of locality, denomination or paternal trade or profession. In Scotland, a public school is synonymous with a state school in England and Wales, and fee-charging schools are typically referred to as private or independent schools.[2]

The playing fields of Rugby School, 1567, reestablished 1828. The rules of rugby football were codified here in 1845.

Although the term "public school" has been in use since at least the 18th century,[3] its usage was formalised by the Public Schools Act 1868,[lower-alpha 1][4] which put into law most recommendations of the 1864 Clarendon Report. Nine prestigious schools were investigated by Clarendon (including two day schools Merchant Taylors' and St Paul's) and seven subsequently reformed by the Act: Eton, Shrewsbury, Harrow, Winchester, Rugby, Westminster, and Charterhouse.[5][6]

Public schools are associated with the ruling class.[7][8][9] Historically, public schools provided many of the military officers and administrators of the British Empire.[10][11] In 2019, two-thirds of cabinet ministers of the United Kingdom had been educated at such fee-charging schools.[12]


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