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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

School performance: test results and Ofsted reports

When choosing a primary or secondary school for your child, get as much information as possible from the local authority, school prospectuses and school visits. School performance (or achievement and attainment) tables and Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills) reports are other good sources of information.

How to get information about schools

Most schools print their own prospectuses for parents with details of what they offer. You may also be able to get this information online from a school’s website.

The 'Find schools and Sure Start Children’s Centres' search tool is useful for getting information about schools. You can type in your postcode to get contact details for schools near your home, including links to their websites if they have one.

You can also use the tool to read:

  • school performance tables
  • Ofsted reports
  • School Profiles (a limited number are available online - more will be added in the future)

School performance tables

Every year the Department for Education (DfE) publishes information on the performance of pupils in all schools.

These tables are a guide to how well a school is doing. They list National Curriculum test results for primary schools and examination results for all secondary schools in England.

You can use this information to see how each school near you compares with the average for:

  • your local authority area
  • across the country

The following tables are published each year:

  • Key Stage 2 tables (with Key Stage 2 test results for all state primary schools)
  • Key Stage 4 tables (with results for GCSEs and equivalent qualifications for all state and independent secondary schools)
  • post-16 tables (with results for AS and A level examinations and equivalent level 3 qualifications for all schools and colleges)

Pupils are no longer required to take the Key Stage 3 tests. Therefore, Key Stage 3 tables are only available for the years up until 2007.

As well as using the ‘Find schools, childcare services and Sure Start Children’s Centres’ tool, you can order copies of the tables by post.

Contextual valued added (CVA) scores

These scores show the progress a school has helped its students make from the end of one key stage to another.

CVA scores complement test and examination results that are published to give a fair guide to the performance of a school.

Test and examination results and CVA scores will not give you a complete picture of a school. However, they may help give you a better picture of a school you are considering.

The DCSF publishes CVA scores for schools alongside the performance tables.

Read the school's Ofsted report

Ofsted inspects all state schools in England at least every three years. After the inspection is done, Ofsted publishes a report which is available to the public.

When assessing a school, Ofsted inspectors consider:

  • the school’s self-evaluation (the school’s assessment of its own performance)
  • performance data
  • pupils’ work
  • lesson observations
  • input from parents
  • discussions with pupils and staff

The inspection report includes an overall assessment of the school’s performance, along with specific judgements on:

  • achievement and standards
  • pupils’ personal development and well-being
  • the quality of teaching and learning
  • how the curriculum is taught
  • the care, guidance and support provided by the school
  • the leadership and management of the school

The judgements are made on a four point scale:

  • one - outstanding
  • two - good
  • three - satisfactory
  • four - inadequate

The report also suggests what the school should do to improve. The school is expected to use Ofsted’s recommendations as a basis for making improvements as quickly as possible.

School Profile

Many schools report their progress in the areas identified by Ofsted in an annual School Profile. Since Ofsted inspections usually take place once every three years, you can check whether the annual School Profile has more up to date information.

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