Moving home: 5 ways to find good local schools
Your child’s education is likely to be a top priority when thinking about moving home. That’s why it’s important to do your research and find out about local schools in the area you wish to move. Read on for our top tips to help you discover the best schools close to your new home.
1. Look at Ofsted reports
There are different school regulators in England, Scotland and Wales. Each commissions reports on achievements, absence levels and quality of teaching. This information can be used to compare schools in the local area or across the country.
- Ofsted rates every school in England according to how well they are performing, with ‘outstanding’ being the highest rating. There are four grades that a school can be awarded – inadequate, satisfactory, good, outstanding. Ofsted will also provide written comments on a number of areas.
- In Wales, Estyn is the regulator and they use colour codes to rank schools. The top ranking is green, which means the school is ‘highly effective’, followed by yellow, amber and then red. Red schools are in need of greatest improvement.
- In Scotland, reports are carried out by Education Scotland. They provide quality indicators across performance, children’s experiences and whether learning needs are being met.
2. Research league tables
Another way to determine if there are good schools in a particular area is by searching for school league tables and rankings. League tables report on a variety of metrics such as student satisfaction, exam results and Ofsted reports.
A useful tool to use is the school performance search tool on the gov.uk website. Or pick up a local newspaper as they often have their own league tables listed area by area.
3. Research parent reviews
While school league tables and Ofsted reports give you a general overview of school performance, social media sites such as Facebook are an excellent source of real world examples about particular schools. Parents will often post on groups or forums if they are particularly pleased or displeased with a schools performance.
In addition, look out for sporting activities, theatrical performances and other special events that show how proactive the local schools really are.
4. Rethink your idea of ‘good’
What does a ‘good’ school really mean to you and your family? Are you looking for particular teaching methodologies, specialisms in a certain subject, or support for children with specific needs? Think about your child’s interests, and consider the quality of wraparound care such as before and after school clubs, that will support your family’s routine and lifestyle.
‘Good’ might also mean other things to you, such as convenience. It’s important that you consider how your children will get to school, whether that’s walking or if you are able to give them a lift. If neither are possible, is there a school bus? This is worth considering before you move as it will greatly affect your lifestyle once you do.
5. Speak to local parents and teachers
One of the best ways to get an idea of schooling in a particular area is by talking to the local people. Ask parents where their children go to school, and how happy they are with their education, but bear in mind that there may be some bias.
If you know any teachers, or visit a school open day, try and find out what the working environment is like in particular primary and secondary schools. The more supportive a school is of its teachers and pupils, the better it will be for your child.
If you want your children to go to a good school within a certain area, you need to consider the catchment area. You can find information about school catchment areas on the government schools admission website. You can also find out which primary schools “feed” certain secondary schools, so that you know if your child’s next school will be as good as the one they currently go to.