The situation is this, i've got to put DD's name down for some schools since she'll be coming up to 4 yrs when we get back to the UK.
However i'm so out of touch with how the UK education system works. Everyone says i should read the Ofsted reports but there are a few dozen schools in our area. it'll take me ages. My sister also mentioned that schools are also given a points system???
Can any tell me where i can find a good overview???
I've been through several Ofstead inspections (in a college, so it's slightly different). They look at things like how well the place is governed and led, the retention and achievement figures, social inclusion, support for students, effectiveness of the school and quality of the teaching.
There is a huge debate in education circles about the effectiveness and reliability of SATs. Remember when Ofstead come to visit, the teachers wheel out their all singing, all dancing lessons to impress them. Any disruptive children may have quietly been bribed or corralled for the duration. I would take the assessment of teaching and achievement with a very large pinch of salt.
Retention can sometimes be an indicator of potential problems, though it can also just be the result of a highly mobile population. The parent's views will have been canvassed for the leadership and governance. This is usually worth a look, as is the overall effectiveness as that may take into account the area the school is in with any attendant problems (immigrant populations, social deprivation, bilingual students etc).
Generally though, I would suggest you skim them for a feel of the school then go and visit the possibles. You can tell more about a school from the condition of the toilets than from an Ofstead report IMHO.
Ofsted reports do your head in after about 20 mins IME! I would recommend reading the first page summarising the report of your selection of schools, but only read further in one or two when you're narrowing down your choices. And remember that if an inspection hasn't happened for 4 or 5 years, and the Head has changed, it may not reflect much of the current situation at the school.