Interpreting Sunday Times league tables

You are probably wondering how easy is it to find THE LATEST school league tables.

Then, how then do I interpret Sunday Times’ school league tables?


How to analyse school league tables


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Step-by-step guide to using THE LATEST school league tables

  1. Search online for the latest Guardian, Times and Telegraph websites.
  2. It’s worth paying for at least one month’s subscription so you can filter published league tables for your local schools shortlist.
  3. You can pull out those schools for which you are in the catchment area.
  4. Then compare your chosen school group on those criteria which are most important to you.

You need to conduct your own analysis to determine which school best suits your child’s specific needs.

What are school league tables?

These school league table rankings, including Guardian   and Telegraph   are based on the latest exam results. Often with the publisher’s own school awards added. Non-exam based criteria are also used to determine the rankings. In summary, a combination of national education standards, SAT results, GCSE grades and A-Level results.

Who are we?

We speak as expert test developers ourselves. Infact you can contact our Founder, Rob Williams, at

Rob Williams

An Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, Rob Williams is a Chartered Psychologist with over 25 years of experience working and designing tests.
He is also the author of five psychometric test design books and has worked for the  school entrance test publishers ISEB, Hodder and GL Assessment.

What do school league tables mean? How are school league tables compiled?

  • These are typically based on national key standards. In the case of primary school league tables then the national education standards being used are the SATs.
  • Although each publisher will apply their own, more subjective criteria.
  • We would advise parents to always remember that school league tables can only provide indications of your local schools’ performance levels. In fact, if you’re lucky you may well be within the school catchment areas of several high performing schools.
  • Rather than adding to the national obsession with school league tables, we would advise parents not to overanalyse over their local school league tables.
  • Always keep in mind that a holistic education is ultimately the most important factor. Ask yourself and your child what are the most important factors (pastoral support, extra-curricula opportunists, sporting facilities). Factors in additional to exam success.


  • Primary school league tables – Best primary schools in UK – top primary schools in uk


Check Ofsted Reports

Always check the latest Ofsted reports for each of those schools on your local schools shortlist.

What are Ofsted reports?

  • Well firstly these are something that you must check for each indepdnet school of interest.
  • Each Ofsted report is an analysis of that school’s teachers’ professional competence
  • Plus, how well performance standards have been met across the independent school. There are three possible outcomes: under-achieving; achieving; or outstanding.


Tips when applying for top school places

For example, with sixth from applications there is no limit to how many sixth form colleges you can apply to. Whereas, primary school applications:

  1. Depending on your local authority you can submit between three and six school preferences.
  2. Primay school places are then allocated by the school’s governing body, an academy trust or the local authority.
  3. Each primary school will have its own admissions criteria. This must be within the national framework for primary school entry. Hence, on school offer day parents will be offered only one primary school place for their child.
  4. Then shortlist all those schools you and your child like. Consider all those schools falling within your catchment area. You now have a shortlist of schools which can review at your leisure.
  5. Provided this is a relatively short list, then visit each school for yourself and your child.
  6. Check the latest Ofsted reports for each school. Prepare questions on any school topic that is unclear. Do you have any reservations? Why can’t you see your child at this school.
  7. Such introspective self questioning will help you to prepare questions for school open day visits.
  8. When attending a school open day, ask yourself whether the school atmosphere and ethos are a good fit for your child.
  9. We certainly recommend shortlisting schools based on national standard statistics. More specifically, the percentage of students meeting the expected standards. For example if the national standard is 60%, then you need to check whether each of your selected schools exceeded that in their latest Ofsted inspections.


Use refined school searches

Obviously you can only do this over time. The key point is to determine you and your child’s key factors from the outset. You can then refine your school selection criteria whilst keeping your baseline school factors the same. These need to be involute.  Otherwise you will quickly become overwhelmed by the plethora of information on each local school’s website. Then later by each school’s marketing literature and open days’ sales messaging. Don’t be swayed by expensive marketing videos!