About School Guide
How can School Guide help me find the best school for my child?
- Search for any school in the UK by name, location or postcode
- See official school statistics in a parent-friendly and clear visual format
- Use colour coded design to filter primary, secondary and independent schools
- Compare schools from all sectors in our School Guide leagues
- Get a School Guide star rating to see how a school ranks locally
How many schools do you include?
We feature information on over 34,000 schools in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland including 2,500 independent schools.
What is the School Guide star rating?
This is our own unique rating for each school, ranging from one to five stars. The rating gives a clear and easily understood summary of how well each school has performed in the previous year based on key statistics. The School Guide rating is entirely based on official data and is 100% objective. Data points used to calculate the School Guide star rating include key performance data and inspection ratings.
School Guide never alters this rating based on anything we are told by schools or parents. We welcome comments on each school’s unique Parent Review page but this is not used to influence the rating in any way.
A separate School Guide star rating algorithim is created for each country and is unique to its dataset.
Why does a school say Not Rated?
Not Rated means we haven't rated this school; it is not the same as a low or zero star rating. We only give a school a star rating when it has enough data to rate it fairly.
Here is a list of reasons why we may not rate a school:
- It is a secondary school with no A level results
- It is a sixth form college with no GSCE results
- It is a 're-take' school (age 14-19) and its GCSE re-take results are not recognised in official performance data
- It is an infant school with no Key Stage 2 results
- It is a special school
- It is a Scottish primary school. These schools are not required to publish pupil level performance data
- It is a Nothern Ireland primary school. From the academic year 2015/16, the Department of Education no longer publish school level performance data for Key Stage 1 and 2
- It is an International School and the curriculum and examination system follows the International Baccalaureate programme
- It is none of the above but does not have enough data fields provided by our official source. Data was not supplied by the school or was suppressed by the official source. Data can be suppressed due to small class sizes in which case we display Small Data Set in the relevant field
If you are a school with an official source of data that appears to be missing from your School Guide page, you can also submit a report by clicking on the link at the bottom of each school page: 'Spotted something wrong with this data?'
I can see a school with a missing data field but it is still rated. Is this fair?
Yes. Each type of school has a minimum number of core data fields that is required to activate our unique Star Rating algorithim. A school may be missing one field but still satisfy the minimum requirment to be rated.
I can see a school that has converted to an academy with no data but you still give it a star rating. Why?
When a school converts to an academy, the Department for Education gives it a new unique reference number (URN) and we have to wait until the next official release of performance data (December for primary schools; January for secondary schools) to get its new data. In the meantime, we link to the previous school and show the previous results as this gives parent a good indication of the historical performance of the school. We also show the previous star rating until the time when we have sufficinet data to re-rate the school.
Where does the school description text come from?
The description text on our school pages is taken from the ‘Information about this school’ section of the school’s most recent Ofsted inspection, where available, or the Independent Schools Council for the majority of independent schools in England. We update directly from Ofsted on a daily basis so this description will update just as soon as a new report is published.
How have you plotted your School Guide heat maps?
Please see our Pupil heat maps and catchment FAQs.
How do you rank schools in your local league tables?
Click on the 'Compare to nearby schools' schools button on a school page and you will be taken to a local league table. The list of 20, 40 or 60 schools will show schools ranked by their School Guide Star Rating first. If no Star Rating is available, the school will be listed as Not Rated and will appear in geographical order based on the school's proximity to the centre of the search location or postcode. School Guide local leagues show the 20 nearest schools to the search location or postcode by default. Select 40 or 60 to see more schools. Not Rated means we haven't rated this school; it is not the same as a low or zero star rating. We only give a school a star rating when it has enough data to rate it fairly.
Are these the latest exam results?
Yes. We display the most recent publicly available exam results and performance data for each country.
Secondary school data
We use 2016 exam results and performance data for English secondary schools released by the Department for Education in January 2017. Next official update: January 2018.
Primary school data
We use 2016 exam results and performance data for English primary schools released by the Department for Education in December 2016. Next official update: December 2017.
We use 2015 exam results and performance data for Welsh primary and secondary schools released by the Welsh Government My Local School in January 2016. Next official update: February 2017.
The 2016 results include some key changes including: reporting school performance at GSCE based on pupils in Year 11 at the time of the January census rather than pupils aged 15; a limit to the contribution value of non-GCSE qualifications to performance measures; and the inclusion of additional EOTAS (pupils education in a setting other than at school).
A guide for parents on the National School Categorisation System can be found here. Each school is judged on three categories. Firstly, its Standards Group (numbered from 1-4), which identifies how well the school is performing against a set of agreed government measures. Standards group 1 is the group that performs most strongly against the agreed measures. Secondly, Improvement Capacity (expressed as a letter from A-D) is a judgement based on the school’s capacity to self-improve. Schools (expressed a letter from A-D) where A shows the greatest capacity to self-improve. Thirdly, School Guide displays the Support Category (green, yellow, amber or red) which indicates the level of support a school requires. Schools in the green category need the least support and those in the red category need the most intensive support. Read FAQs on the 3-tier system here.
We use 2015 exam results and performance data for Scottish secondary schools released by Parentzone Scotland in April 2016. The data comes from the Scottish Government's online tool, Insight, which presents attainment data from the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). In 2014, new National Qualifications were introduced and you can view a summary of the SCQF framework and new level descriptors here. Next official update: April 2017.
At primary level, pupils do not sit formal tests in Scotland and there is no performance data available. For Scottish primary schools we show headline figures from The Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy (SSLN) and the relevant statistical reports. We currently show data from the last available SSLN for Literacy (published April 2015) and Numeracy (published May 2016). These reports are published bi-annually on rotation. There will be a new Literacy report in spring 2017 and Numeracy in 2018.
We use 2015 exam results and performance data for secondary schools in Northern Ireland released by the Department of Education Northern Ireland (DENI). New 2016 school level performance data will be published in early 2017 (date to be confirmed).
Following consultation with the schools and head teachers, the government is no longer publishing school level data for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 and no official performance information has been published for the 2015/16 academic year. DENI advise parents can go to the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment for more general information on assessement and progress.
As a result, we do not give primary schools a School Guide star rating. We invite NI primary schools to publish their results on their School Noticeboard. It is free to do so and schools can sign up here.
How do I know your information is reliable?
We only publish information on our data pages from official sources including the Department for Education, Ofsted and the Independent Schools Council for English schools, Parentzone Scotland including HM Inspectors for Scottish schools, the Welsh Government and Estyn (Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales) for Welsh schools, and Department of Education and the Education Training Inspectorate in Northern Ireland.
What is the source of your national averages?
For schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, we take the national average from the Department for Education, the Welsh Government and the Department of Education Northern Ireland respectively for performance data.
For Scottish schools, School Guide calculates its own national averages based on the official data provided. This is done by type of institution per country (i.e. secondary schools in Wales). However, Parentzone Scotland recommend that parents search for indvidual schools and use the virtual comparator, a unique tool that allows like-for-like comparisons based on a school's unique characteristics. For each school leaver, the virtual comparator takes ten matching school leavers randomly selected based on gender, additional support needs, stage of leaving school (S4, S5 or S6) and the social context in which they live. Click here to find a school in Scotland and make a detailed comparison.
What are the official sources of School Guide data?
We only use data from official sources including:
- The Department for Education Performance Tables. We display performance data for three key stages: Key Stage 2 (Age 11), Key Stage 4 (Age 16) and Key Stage 5 (Age 18).
- The Office for Standards in Education, Children's services and Skills (Ofsted). We publish an overall school rating for each school which ranges from 1 (Outstanding) to 4 (Inadequate) and a link to the full school inspection report.
- The Independent Schools Council (ISC) and The Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI).
- Parentzone Scotland for performance data and Scottish inspection reports by HM Inspectors.
- Welsh Government (My Local School) for school performance data and Estyn for inspection reports.
- Department of Education Northern Ireland (DENI) for school performance data. Education Training Inspectorate for inspection reports.
How often do you update inspection reports?
We update reports from Ofsted daily for English schools. Ofsted provides an overall rating for each school from 1 = Outstanding to 4 = Inadequate.
For Wales, we also update reports from Estyn daily. Estyn inspect the majority of state and independent schools in Wales.
We update reports from Education Scotland, who inspect both state and independent schools in Scotland, every six weeks in line with their official publication schedule.
Education Training Inspectorate, who inspect the majority of schools in Northern Ireland, publish new reports every six weeks and we update our pages in line with this schedule.
Independent schools in England and some English speaking schools in Wales are inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI). The ISI does not provide an overall rating for independent schools.
How often does Ofsted inspect schools?
The following statement is taken from Ofsted: “How frequently a school is inspected depends on how well it did at its last inspection. We inspect weaker schools more frequently and only inspect outstanding schools where concerns emerge.”
Since September 2009, a school judged to be good or outstanding will only be inspected at five-year intervals unless the inspectors identify any concerns. Ofsted says: "To help decide whether we could wait longer than three years before undertaking a full inspection of a good or outstanding school, Her Majesty’s Inspectors consider various sources of information about the school’s performance. This is called an interim assessment and when no inspection takes place as a result, a letter is sent to parents to tell them the school is still considered good or outstanding.” You can view interim assessment letters at the Ofsted website.
Why does a school show 0% on its GSCE data dial or have lower than expected results?
Changes to the way the government reported school results were introduced in 2014 and these changes have impacted on official figures in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Schools may be affected by one or a combination of the new reforms.
It is important to note that iGCSEs are excluded from the official performance data.
iGSCEs are set by Cambridge International Examinations and over 200,000 pupils sit iGCSEs in English each summer. Many leading independent schools only offer iGCSEs and their results are excluded from reporting, hence their results showing as 0%.
In addition to the discounting of iGCSEs, there are two main government reforms that have impacted on the official school performance tables in 2016:
1. The Wolf rule (including discounting of qualifications)
One rule made up of a group of changes based on recommendations taken from Professor Alison Wolf’s Review of Vocational Education. It’s led to around 3,000 unique qualifications being removed from the performance measures including unregulated iGCSEs.
There is also a discounting of qualifications. Where a pupil has taken two or more qualifications with an overlap in curriculum, discounting means that the performance tables only give credit once for teaching a single course of study.
2. The Early Entry policy
Previously performance measures were calculated using the best result a pupil achieved – even if they sat the GCSE multiple times – but, from 2014, the government only counted the first result for many subjects and this has been rolled out to all subjects in 2016.
How do I use School Guide to help me choose a school?
We recommend that parents use all the official data published on School Guide as a starting point for more detailed research. We provide an overview of each school's academic performance and also publish data related to pupil/teacher ratios, free schools meals and attendance. It is important to contact schools for more information and arrange a visit if you are considering applying for a place for your child
Spotted a mistake or seen out of date information?
You can also submit a report by clicking on the link at the bottom of each school page. ('Spotted something wrong with this data? Let us know.')
Choosing a Prep or Pre-Prep School
Prep schools prepare children for senior school and typically take children from the age of 7 up to either 11 or 13 depending on the school. Pre-Prep schools take children as young as 2 up to 7. So Prep and Pre-Prep together are the equivalent of nursery, primary and junior school in the state sector.
There is no individual school performance data for these schools as the majority do not sit National Curriculum tests. Pupils are often prepared for the Common Entrance Exam, the usual entry requirement for an independent senior school.
All independent schools belong to one of the member associations of the Independent Schools Council Association including the Independent Association of Prep Schools. The Independent Schools Inspectorate visits schools in England and Wales and their reports provide a good starting point for parents to understand the type and character of a school. Education Scotland inspects schools in Scotland.
Without official standardized data, it can be difficult to compare schools like for like and assess which schools perform better. The following checklist can help parents select the right school for their child:
- Think about location, facilities, value for money and feedback from other parents to assist in making a shortlist
- Ask the school about what tests the pupils sit and their track record of results. Year on year results will show whether a school's performance is steady, improving or declining
- Read the Head’s introduction on the school’s website or arrange a meeting. The Head will have a strong influence on the ethos of the school
- Ask about the style of education: high or low pressure; academically or more widely focused
- The common leaver destination is a useful indictor. Will this school enable your child to gain entrance to your preferred secondary school? Do they prepare pupils for the Common Entrance Exam or Eleven Plus?
How do I use my free School Noticeboard?
You need to be a school administrator to register for the School Noticeboard and have an official school email address. All details will be verified by calling the school on its main telephone number. Register your school by clicking the School Noticeboard tab and completing the quick and easy registration form. This will generate a unique school log in that will be emailed to the registered address. Registered school users can then return to the site and add images and text to their School Noticeboard template at any time.
This is free and there is no limit on the amount of times you can update information throughout the academic year.
Click here to resigter to register for a School Noticeboard.
I represent a school and we have recently changed our website address, email or telephone number. Can we update our school page?
Yes. You can edit your basic school details (non data) by registering your school for a School Noticeboard free of charge. You do this by clicking the Register button next to the School Noticeboard section and following the instructions or clicking this link. Alternatively, you can email information to [email protected] and enclose a telephone number so we can verify your details.
How can I get in touch with School Guide?
We welcome all comments and feedback. Please go to the Contact Us page for more information.