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How can School Guide help me find the best school for my child?
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.
How does the paid subscription work?
If you choose to register and pay for a monthly subscription to School Guide to access premium features such as our helpful Star Ratings, Catchment Heat Maps and full data (where available), you will be charged the advertised cost per month (currently £9.95/month) every month until you cancel your subscription. You can cancel your subscription at any time after the first payment has been made, and you will still gain access to the premium features on the site until the end of the first paid month. Once your first payment has been successfully made, you will receive an email receipt stating the dates of your first month's subscription (the minimum access period) e.g. FEB 27, 2019 – MAR 27, 2019, and your next payment will be taken on the last day of that period e.g. MAR 27, 2019. There is no maximum subscription period. You can contact us by email [email protected] with questions about your subscription. Card payments are processed by Stripe, an online payment processing portal, and you can read Stripe's UK Services Agreement here. Kindly note: we cannot cancel your subscription by telephone; you must email [email protected] and state your registered email address to cancel.
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 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.
We welcome comments on each school’s unique Parent Review page but this is not used to influence the rating in any way.
Please note: a separate School Guide star rating algorithm is created for each country and is unique to its dataset.
For secondary schools in Wales, schools are rated on their GSCE data only in combination with performance indicators. This means the Star Rating is for performance up to GSCE (age 16) and parents should look at the A level results separately. As many parents look at Sixth Form provision as a separate entity based on the specific subjects available at the school, we developed this system to help us rate the largest number of secondary schools in Wales.
For primary schools in Wales, school level results from 2018 at Foundation Phase (age 7) and Key Stage 2 (age 11) were not published by the government. We therefore give a summary star rating based on the last available data as a helpful indicator to parents. This includes key performance indicators from 2017 (the last available set of results) and updated inspection report and support category data from 2018. This is to be used as a guide only. Parents can view national level results for primary schools including the percentage of pupils across Wales achieving the expected levels for the Foundation Phase (age 7) and at Key Stage 2 (age 11) here.
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:
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 algorithm. A school may be missing one field but still satisfy the minimum requirment to be rated.
Where does the school description text come from?
The description text on our school pages is taken from the its most recent inspection report, where available. Schools may also provide text for their page. If you are school and would like to update this text, please Contact Us.
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.
How does the paid monthly subscription work?
Are these the latest exam results?
Yes. We display the most recent publicly available exam results and performance data for each country. GCSE and A level results are published in August. However, the official government dataset, including all verfied results, is not released until December for primary schools and January for secondary schools.
Primary school data
We use 2018 exam results and performance data for English primary schools released by the Department for Education on 14 December 2018.
Next official update: December 2019.
Secondary school data
We use 2018 exam results and performance data for English secondary schools released by the Department for Education in January 2019.
Next official update: January 2020.
We use 2018 exam results and performance data for Welsh primary (where available) and secondary schools released by the Welsh Government My Local School in December 2018. Next official update: December 2019.
The results include some key changes. Results are from the so-called 'made in Wales' GSCEs for the first time including 2 maths qualifications and the emphasis on 9 core academic subjects. They also include additional EOTAS (pupils educated in a setting other than school).
New inspection reports from Estyn no longer include an overall judgement. Where available, we show the judgement for the 'Standards' category for reports published after September 2017. There are 5 new areas of inspection summarised as: standards, wellbeing, teaching, care, and leadership. Each area is judged using a 4-point grade scale: 1= Excellent; 2 = Good; 3 = Adequate and needs improvement; and 4 = Unsatisfactory and needs urgent improvement.
Click here to watch a short video explaining Esytn's inspection changes.
School Guide shows the Support Category for each school from the National School Categorisation System. A guide for parents on this system can be can found here. Each school is judged on three categories and 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 system here.
We use 2018 exam results and performance data for Scottish secondary schools released by the Scottish Government in April 2019. The data comes from the Scottish Government's online School Information Dashboard, which presents attainment data from the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). You can view a summary of the SCQF framework and level descriptors here. Next official update: April 2020.
For Scottish primary schools, we show headline figures from the Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) levels, detailing pupils’ achievement (based on teachers assessment) in two core areas of learning at a national level. This information is published as part of the National Improvement Framework for Education.
School level information was published for 2017/18 but these results are still considered experimental by Education Scotland and should be viewed with caution. Click here to search for a primary school and view its experimental dataset.
We do not display inspection reports for Scottish schools if they are more than five years old as Education Scotland only retains inspection reports for five years. If you are parent wanting to view an older inspection report, you can request a copy by email: [email protected]
We use 2018 exam results and performance data for secondary schools in Northern Ireland released by the Department of Education Northern Ireland (DENI). Next official update: February 2020.
Primary school performance data is currently not available but we do regularly update school contact information and inspection reports. Following consultation with the schools and head teachers, the government no longer publishes school level data for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 and official primary performance information has not been published for the 2017/18 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, the Scottish Government 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 in England, Education Wales 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, except for Unauthorised Absence averages which come from School Education in Scotland. The Scottish government recommends 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:
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 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. We do not display inspection reports for Scottish schools if they are more than five years old. Inspection reports are only retained by Education Scotland for five years. If you are parent wanting to view an older inspection report, you can request a copy by email: [email protected]
Education Training Inspectorate, who inspect the majority of schools in Northern Ireland, publish links to new reports annually at the end of the academic year.
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. We update independent inspection reports every six weeks.
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 from 2014 to 2018. 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 are:
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 now been rolled out to all subjects.
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:
How do I use the 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.
What are features of upgraded (paid) pages?
Schools can pay to upgrade their pages and add additional content, images, views and hyperlinks to drive parents directly through to their own admissions pages. This rich editorial is loved by Google and will help your School Guide information page rank highly when parents search for the best schools in your area.
We combine unique content with proven banner advertising. Advertising schools can see footfall to Open Days events increase by 30% and a high number of new admissions enquiries.
We have upgraded packages available for all sizes of schools and budgets.
You can view a full list of upgraded features here.
Email [email protected] to request a Media Pack.
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.