When a school is used as the cover for an elaborate plot-centric scheme, usually by a BigBad or MadScientist. This is popular in horror or science fiction, where the story will centre on aliens, witchcraft or other supernatural activity secretly taking place at the school. Often involves brainwashing or forced servitude of the students, or illicit scientific testing being conducted on the students. Spoilers follow, as the True Purpose of the schools is often not known until TheReveal.

The benevolent (mostly) version of this is an ExtranormalInstitute. Different from BoardingSchoolOfHorrors, because it's not a question of the facilities being bad or the teachers or other students being mean -- usually everything is outwardly quite nice, because it makes a better contrast with the Terrible Lurking Secret. Do not confuse with a [[AcademyOfEvil school that teaches you how to scheme]], or a school that teaches you [[UsefulNotes/ScriptingLanguage Scheme]].



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Variant: In ''Manga/DeathNote'', Wammy's Orphanage for genius children really exists in order to find a successor to L.
* ''Anime/{{Monster}}'' does the opposite: the Kinderheim 511 orphanage [[spoiler: really exists in order to create a heartless monster to become the next Hitler. They're almost all killed when they find Johan, a kid who is exactly what they want, and he leaves pretty much everyone dead.]]
* ''Anime/YuGiOhGX''. Duel Academia is basically a giant roach motel for [[CosmicHorror Cosmic Horrors]], training kids to fight said horrors in the process.
* Mugen Gakuen (Infinity College) in ''Anime/SailorMoon S'' acts as a front for activities of the Death Busters, aliens from Tau Ceti who possess human bodies and seek to summon Master Pharaoh 90 to end the world.
* ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' reveals us during the later parts of the series that ''every single person'' in Shinji's class is a pilot candidate. It does make sense to collect all of them into one school as said school is located in the same city which the StarfishAliens are attacking and which houses the HumongousMecha to fight said aliens. It even makes more sense when it's revealed that the Marduk Institute that selects pilots is a front for NERV itself who can quickly forge the necessary papers, thereby calling up new pilots on their discretion. Just watch episode 18: Unit 03 is completed and is about to be shipped to Japan. Cue NERV approaching [[spoiler:Touji]], using his [[spoiler:sister being transferred to a better hospital]] as leverage.
* Even the LighterAndSofter ''Manga/AngelicDays'' manga uses this trope, although only six are positively identified ([[spoiler:Shinji, Asuka, Rei, Touji, Kensuke and Kaworu]]) while the rest are said to be incapable of piloting. [[GambitPileup Knowing the franchise however]], that may be a lie to motivate them.
* ''Hatsukanezumi no Jikan'', or ''Hour of the Mice'', takes place in a boarding school where the students are being experimented on.
* ''Manga/AfterschoolCharisma'' features a school for clones of famous historical figures; there's lots of plotting going on around them, including [[spoiler:the clones being implied to be killed if they don't display the talent of their originals. After all, they're disposable; the scientists can always make another one.]]
* Hakoniwa Academy from ''Manga/MedakaBox'', is [[GenreShift eventually]] revealed to be the public staging ground for perfecting superhumans and applying their abilities to all humanity. The chairman reflects on this as the fulfillment of the purpose of all schools: to allow their students to better themselves and advance their abilities. Of course, most schools don't implement it in such Nietzchian terms. And the whole forcing the eventual results on their student population and high death toll, which makes the Academy this trope.
* Fuuka Gakuen in ''Anime/MaiHime'' pretty much exist for the sole purpose of rassembling all the Himes in the same place so to facilitate the advent of the Carnival.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Done in one of the ''Aspen'' comic books. It's an odd cross between Corporate Assassination and Geisha-like training. Seriously.
* The overarching plot of ''Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E'' revolves around Courtney's high school being the cover for the base of the Dragon King, a 40s supervillain. This includes a supervillain art teacher, kidnapped students turned into brainwashed ninjas, and Courtney nearly getting her brain transferred into a giant mosquito due to her cheating on an IQ test.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In Red Witch's ''[[WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfTheGalaxyRangers Galaxy Rangers]]'' fanfic, Miss Abercrombie's "Charm School" turns out to be an elite academy for spies and secret agents from Earth's wealthiest and well-placed families.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Manga/KekkoKamen'': "Satan's School for Girls". Seriously who would send their daughter to a school with Satan in its name?
* The Freiburg Dance Academy in ''Film/{{Suspiria}}'' is a cover for a [[WickedWitch coven of witches]].

* The title character of ''Literature/TheDemonHeadmaster'' hypnotizes his students as part of his scheme to take over the world.
* In the ''Literature/SpyHigh'' books, the characters attend a "school" that's really a training centre for young spies.
* Battle School and Command School in ''Literature/EndersGame''. Although they're a bit more transparent and honest about their motives than usual.
* Humorous example: In ''Regarding the Fountain'', Dry Creek Middle School turns out to have been built [[spoiler:on top of the local natural spring that is the source of the town's famous creek]] as part of a plot by a pair of [[CorruptCorporateExecutive Corrupt Corporate Executives]] to [[spoiler:control the local water supply]]. The nefarious scheme is brought to light when the school drinking fountain needs replacing.
* Hailsham, the British boarding school where the protagonists grow up Kazuo Ishiguro's novel ''Literature/NeverLetMeGo'' is really [[spoiler: an experiment designed to prove that cloned children would grow up to be as intelligent and sensitive as regular people if raised in the right conditions]]. That wouldn't seem so bad, except the children get [[spoiler:cannibalized for organ donations]] anyway.
* Hampden College, the setting of ''Literature/TheSecretHistory'', isn't specifically ''for'' scheming--but there's enough of it going around all the same. Richard calls his classics lessons "Julian's private university," which certainly fits this trope.
* The ''Literature/GemmaDoyle'' trilogy.
* In ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'', the Yeerks, mind-controlling aliens that inhabit their hosts, use a Boys & Girls Club type organization named ''The Sharing'' to recruit. The Vice-Principal of the protagonists' school is infested, and the janitor's closet is an entryway to the aliens' feeding grounds.
* In the ''Literature/AlexRider'' series, Alex attends a corrective school for delinquent rich kids. All is normal until the "changed" students turn out to be genocidal clones of the BigBad about to use their parent's resources for a new apartheid.
* ''[[Literature/HIVESeries H.I.V.E: the Higher Institute for Villainous Education]]'', is a more obvious one: the kids are told from the start that the aim is to produce Villains.
* ''Literature/ThePrimeOfMissJeanBrodie'', where a gang of pupils are secretly coached by Miss Brodie for her own purposes.
* The Gallagher School for Girls in ''[[Literature/TheGallagherGirls I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You]]'' and ''[[Literature/TheGallagherGirls Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy]]'' is a training ground for young female spies and the girls are constantly being thrown into life-threatening situations as "tests".
* Robert C. O'Brien's ''TheSilverCrown'' has a secret school in it, which brain-washes/trains children as assassins, via the [[MacGuffin Heironymous Machine]].
* In Creator/LoisDuncan's ''Literature/DownADarkHall'', the exclusive school Blackwood (it's really ''really'' exclusive, it only has four students counting the main character) is really for the purpose of [[spoiler: collecting kids with ESP so dead writers, artists, composers, scientists, and mathematicians can use them as vehicles to produce all the things they didn't get to when they were alive. This would be all fine and dandy--in fact, Ruth, the most intelligent of the girls, [[WillingChanneler doesn't mind being used to write down mathematical theories]]--except that not only can people like Emily Bronte and Vermeer get through, but so can anyone else. Sandy ends up transcribing a terribly vulgar poem in French, and let's not even get into what Lynda paints. Also, Blackwood is not the first school Madame Duret opened; there was one in France and one in England. Of all the students at those schools, ''four killed themselves and the rest are mental hospitals''. And Madame Duret ''keeps trying anyway''.]]
* In ''The Grounding of Group 6'' by Julian F. Thompson, five kids are sent to an exclusive boarding school...whose administrators use the school as a cover to have select groups of students taken into the woods with a hitman [[OffingTheOffspring hired by the kids' parents]] to kill them all.
* The Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened in ''Literature/TheMysteriousBenedictSociety'', which due to some FunWithAcronyms and SdrawkcabAlias becomes E.V.I.L. The main base of Mr. Curtain (in the first book, anyway) and therefore of all his schemes.
* In ''Literature/HexHall'', the AllGhoulsSchool is a cover for [[spoiler: the Casnoffs' attempts to raise demons.]]
* In ''Literature/AnimasConquest'', Salva Academy seems to be a front for some sort of eugenics campaign - students who graduate at the top are invited to procreate with one another, and an on-campus research facility is manufacturing bizarre drugs that appear to alter the users' DNA (spontaneous hair/eye color change).
* The "Mr Browser" series of children's novels begins with "Mr Browser and the Brain Sharpeners" in which aliens artificially enhance the intelligence of students at a school as part of a plot to TakeOverTheWorld.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* The new series of ''Series/DoctorWho'' has a few episodes with this. In the episode "School Reunion", the school is secretly run by Krillitanes, who use the children to crack the "Skasis Paradigm", which gives total control of time and space. In "The Sontaran Stratagem"/"The Poison Sky", Luke Rattigan runs a school for gifted teens, planning to repopulate a new world with geniuses after a Sontaran takeover of Earth.
* ''Series/TheSarahJaneAdventures'': "Revenge of the Slitheen" has a plethora of schools worldwide being used, via new technology blocks, by the Slitheen in a revenge plot against humankind. They are attempting to use the technology in secret rooms hidden in each of these new buildings to switch off the sun.
* ''Series/AreYouAfraidOfTheDark'' had an episode where two kids discover that their boarding school is run by monsters, who brainwash the students into taking care of alien eggs.
* An episode of ''Series/TheOuterLimits1995'' involved a school where children of wealthy parents are brainwashed and controlled to create political weapons.
* The Academy that River was sent to in ''Series/{{Firefly}}'', supposedly a school for the exceptionally gifted, but in reality a twisted government/corporate facility where she and others like her were subjected to [[MindRape horrific experiments and brainwashing]] in order to [[SuperSoldier turn them into weapons]]. Luckily, [[PromotiontoParent Simon]] [[AFriendinNeed rescued her from it.]]
* In ''Series/KamenRiderFourze'', Amanogawa High was ostensibly set up to encourage creativity in bright students and lead them towards an interest in space exploration. It's really a front for [[spoiler:unleashing the power of the Horoscopes, using the kids for experiments with Switches, and eventually gathering all twelve fully-evolved Switches to open up a black hole that'd destroy Japan and allow the BigBad to meet aliens and transcend humanity in the process.]]
* In ''Series/MIHigh'', secret agency M.I.9 maintains a secret base under St. Hope's and employs three students as its top agents.
* ''Series/{{Goosebumps}}'' has ''The Perfect School'' episode. A school where trouble kids are sent, and they ''always'' return as perfect kids. It's hinted that brainwashing is taking place, [[spoiler:but in fact, the kids are being cloned. The "perfect" clones are sent back home, while the original kids are locked up in the "Nursery".]]
* In ''Series/AmericanHorrorStoryCoven'', Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies is this - originally an exclusive boarding school for girls that was used as a military base during the US Civil War, it was then taken over by the current generation's Supreme (the most powerful witch alive) and the school was used as a cover for the training of young witches.
* An episode of ''Series/MidsomerMurders'' revolved around a boarding school which had an exclusive student organization called the Pudding Club which was in fact [[spoiler: the recruitment drive for a decades-old antiques smuggling group]]. The first murder was because a student discovered what was really going on and chose to leave and was killed in case he went public.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* In Maladomini, one of the layers of [[FireAndBrimstoneHell The Nine Hells of Baator]] in [=3.5e=] ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'', there's a school for devils and other lawful evil beings seeking to become corrupters, complete with a training course doing mock-ups of Material Plane events.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/DeusExInvisibleWar'', the Tarsus Academies where the player character begins are an arguably more benevolent example, but with a twist: training corporate spies and assassins is their ''cover story'', but they are later revealed to be a front for a corporation called [=ApostleCorp=] to develop [[{{Nanomachines}} biomodification technology]] that will allow them to revive their leaders from stasis and bring about their [[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans utopian vision]] of a "Perfect Democracy". You can choose to side with them in one of the MultipleEndings.
* In ''[[VideoGame/FirstEncounterAssaultRecon F.E.A.R. 2 Project Origin]]'', Wade Elementary is actually a cover to test drugs on the children in order to increase their psychic potential.
* ''VideoGame/{{Disgaea 3|AbsenceOfJustice}}'' is pretty much this.
* Leafmore High School in ''VideoGame/{{ObsCure}}'' was founded as a way for [[BigBad Principal Herbert Friedman]] to get test subjects for his medical experiments. After an attempt to discover the secret of immortality [[GoneHorriblyWrong went horribly wrong]] and turned his brother Leonard into a [[PlantPerson plant monster]], Herbert founded Leafmore High as a cover for his experiments and to have a steady stream of test subjects, hoping to find a way to save Leonard.
* The Sith academy in ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic''. The player character can usually use this for their own means. Interestingly, the Light Side path actually requires more dishonesty and subversion than the Dark Side path (as you are forced to rescue people covertly without exposing yourself).

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* The psychic academy in the webcomic ''Webcomic/{{Zap}}''
* While the title Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt is still simply a morally ambiguous ExtranormalInstitute, as more is revealed about [[spoiler:Jeanne and the founders]] it seems to be going in this direction.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Subverted in ''WesternAnimation/CloneHigh'': The military wants to utilize the clones' inherent greatness to lead the Army, while Principal Scudworth wants them to be the main attraction for his theme park (Cloney Island, natch). Neither of these intentions seems to trickle down to the student populace.
* Variation: In ''WesternAnimation/RecessSchoolsOut'', the school is only used for a secret plot during summer vacation when no one is around. A mad scientist uses it to hide a tractor beam with which he plans to move the Moon in order to send North America into a state of perpetual winter. To improve the students' test scores. And thus be elected President. Or something. He was trying to abolish summer break.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDragonJakeLong'' episode "A Befuddled Mind", [[EvilSorcerer Eli Pandarus]] fronted an academy for gifted children in the hopes that one of them could solve a magical puzzle box containing powerful magic.
* The episode of ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' that introduced Brother Blood to the series had Cyborg going undercover at the HIVE Academy (no relation to the one in the Literature section) as a villain-in-training named Stone. It's really not all that different from a regular high school (there's a Sadie Hawkins dance, regular lunchroom, etc). The only thing different is the subject matter. The HIVE and Brother Blood exist in comics, but the Church of Blood and the HIVE are totally separate organizations, and neither spent a great deal of time grooming new supervillains in a full on "[[Franchise/XMen Xavier School]], but evil!" setting. By the way, HIVE stands for [[FunWithAcronyms Hierarchy of International Vengeance and Extermination]].
* WesternAnimation/CoolMcCool attempts to track down his six major nemeses (The Owl, the Rattler, Jack In The Box, Professor Madcap and Greta "Green Lips" Ghoul, and Hurricane Harry) who have gathered to form a "College Of Crooks." Their initial assignment is to get rid of [=McCool=].