How does the Schools Guide work?
Classes with a diverse mixture of students can lead to better learning outcomes for everyone
Photograph: Getty Images
The Schools Guide draws on 10 indicators that we believe capture the main attributes of a school that parents and their children are interested in and for which robust datasets exist. So what are they?
How easy is it to secure a place? Schools that are not full, or ones that offer a large number of places relative to the number of applicants, rank highly. Our data comes from the Department for Education (DfE).
How well do pupils perform in exams such as those for GCSEs and (where applicable) A-levels? This is based on DfE data, and does not take into account pupils’ academic performance before they arrived at the school.
How much do pupils improve academically? The highest-ranking schools in the DfE data are those that admit low-attaining pupils and help them get top grades.
How reliably do pupils attend school? We use DfE data to determine the general absence rate and the proportion of pupils who are persistently absent.
What happens to pupils after they leave school? DfE data tells us how many progress to further or higher education and into employment.
How does the school support pupils from poorer families to achieve their potential? This includes DfE academic progress and post-school destinations data.
How healthy and safe is the neighbourhood immediately around the school? This draws on ONS environmental data on pollution, traffic and crime levels.
Is the school financially stable? Does DfE data show budgets that have been in balance or surplus in recent years?
This indicates how closely the socio-economic and ethnic balance of the school matches that of the local pupil population. Schools with high rankings are not necessarily diverse: they could simply be located in non-diverse locations. This indicator uses pupil data from the DfE in conjunction with geographical data from the ONS, building on previous work conducted by the iCoCo Foundation, The Challenge and SchoolDash.
How good is the sixth form (where one exists), including A-level attainment, progress between GCSE and A-level, and post-school destinations. Academic and destinations data both come from the DfE.