School league tables
Secondary school league tables help you to decide how good a school is but first you need to find them and understand them. Once you’ve done that you need to put them in the context of everything else you can find out about each school you are interested in. If you want help finding and understanding league tables so you can choose a secondary school for your child,we can help with our guide, ‘Choosing a secondary school and getting in.’
So, first things first. Where are they? School league tables are also sometimes called school performance tables. The new Department for Education website allows you to browse or choose schools by clicking ‘school performance tables’ in the research and statistics part of their website.
Another way to find the information you want is to put ‘school league tables 2011’ into a search engine and choose from one of the summaries or easy to use tools provided by the BBC or quality newspapers. And don’t forget you can look at the league tables schools publish themselves on their websites. Of course, you may want to see how a school is doing over time. Just include the year in your search, ‘GCSE league tables 2010’ for example and a list of options will come up.
But the very fact that these summaries exist highlights a second important point about school league tables; they are not always easy to understand. They include many comparisons that the experienced data analyst will find useful. The rest of us will shudder in horror. This is another reason to use one of the sites that has already done some of the hard and horrid work for you. If all else fails, put ‘best schools in London’ (or whichever area you want to search) into a search engine and the list you get back will show some analysis of a school’s results.
Thirdly, although school league tables 2010 are an important indicator of the exam success of a school, you will need to look beyond them if you are to make a fully informed choice of school for your child.
Try to consider a whole range of things when you are researching and visiting secondary schools; the quality of relationships you see, any specialisms the school may have that could benefit your child, the extra curricular offer, the most recent OFSTED report and so on and then consider the school league tables in this context.
Remember, exam success is only part of the story and while school league tables allow you to compare schools and even subjects across schools, it’s a good idea to remember the other types of information you can get from and about a school; brochures and websites, OFSTED information, press cuttings about achievements and extra curricular activities, curriculum information and most importantly of all, the views and opinions of the students who currently study there.
Unlike the independent sector there isn’t a good schools guide for state schools but our advice will help you to navigate the process and avoid the common mistakes families make when they make complete their application.
Secondary school league tables
Are you a family that wants help finding and understanding secondary school league tables? Look no further than our guide, ‘choosing a secondary school and getting in.’
Secondary school league tables can be a useful source of comparison for schools and are often the first place families look when they are considering a secondary school for their child.
But remember, it’s not just a matter of searching on the internet for say ‘the best schools in London’ if that’s where you live, you have to look out for certain important things in school league tables and you must see them in the broadest context too.
The Department of Education is a key place to look, (be aware that they call secondary school league tables, school performance tables). And although it is in the process of overhauling the site, it has the information that all other sources, the BBC, the quality newspapers, will use.
From there you can see how schools compare and how different groups of students fair in each school, as well as the strengths of different subjects and how much progress students make from their arrival to departure.
If you know you are interested in particular schools, look on their own sites for information about exam results or OFSTED reports but remember that these league tables schools produce themselves may have a particular slant or point of view.
Don’t forget to track how a school is doing over time. You want to take a view on the direction of travel as your child wont be sitting exams for a few years after arrival. A simple search like ‘school league tables 2010’ or ‘school league tables 2011’ will allow you to look at schools year on year. In the coming months the government will review its own secondary school league tables to make some of this information easier to see on its own site.
And then, remember to see the secondary school league tables in the context of the other information you can collect and interrogate on schools including websites and brochures, OFSTED reports, and other inspection visits.
Of course if you do your research on exam results before you visit the schools in September, you will be armed with questions to ask and you will be able to see if the impression the secondary school league tables give you matches with your experience of the school first hand.
There is no good schools guide for the state sector so alas there is no way around doing your own research. Secondary school league tables are a good place to start but by no means the whole of the story. With out guide at your side you can look in the right places, ask the right questions and make the best decisions for your child.