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Did you check league tables when choosing a school for your DC?

(60 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 09-Jan-15 09:06:07

Hello all

There's an interesting education story in the news today - a survey by the NASUWT has found that fewer than a third of parents check league tables when choosing a school for their children.

We wondered what you thought - does this chime with your experience, and if you didn't consult 'em, how did you go about making the big decision?

harryhausen Fri 09-Jan-15 09:15:19

I did briefly when looking about 6 years for dd's primary. The school was very in the middle and I didn't really understand all the figures and percentages at the time.

I checked ofsted. Visited, and asked around.
The school is still very in the middle of the leagues tables I believe, but has been a great school.

I'm currently looking into secondary school and an finding sites like The Good Schools guide more useful.

SunnySomer Fri 09-Jan-15 09:18:32

No, we didn't check.
Our first priority was walking distance, second the feel of the school, third local reputation. We knew that all the local schools had reasonable outcomes (by word of mouth, not by studying league tables, though now I know more I realise it was true).
For secondary school I probably will consider results, but even so, I'm not sure of the point, as our school places are allocated based on catchment area.

footallsock Fri 09-Jan-15 09:31:49

I did out of interest but I hated one of the schools that we could have got in which had marginally higher results (lots of tutoring). I also think in our area which affluent parents and mainly highly educated, there is no excuse for all schools to perform well. They should not be compared simply with schools with greater challenges

ChocPretzels Fri 09-Jan-15 09:35:16

No for either primary or secondary. For primary we chose the nearest one to us (even though another one 10 mins away had a "better" reputation at the time). For secondary, no actual choice due to catchment, over-subscription or 11+ selection.

wonkylegs Fri 09-Jan-15 09:46:36

Hahahahaha at the notion we had a choice.
Funnily enough DSs school doesn't do well in the league tables but I couldn't rate it higher.
It doesn't fair so well as it serves a highly disadvantaged population and also has high levels of SEN but the levels of improvement from what they take in to what they produce is astounding and they still manage to work with & challenge able children like DS. League tables don't show any of this, however it is evident even on a brief visit to the school or through their Ofstead report.

Bonsoir Fri 09-Jan-15 09:47:48

I'm not in the UK but am currently in the French market for a Y6 place for my DD and, yes, I check league tables. But I look at every possible data point, go to open days, information sessions, analyse timetables and curricula, talk to other parents... French league tables are subject to the same sorts of distortions that any league table is and need to be examined with a critical eye to establish whether they are meaningful for my DC.

violetwellies Fri 09-Jan-15 09:55:54

I've only applied for our nearest on the basis of Ofsted and personal knowledge of the other schools in our catchment area.
Local secondaries are mostly dire, and have been for years. Unless there's a miracle we might end up home schooling.

harryhausen Fri 09-Jan-15 10:08:52

I agree that the idea of a wide choice is laughable. Catchment is the biggest factor for most parents I think, so it's a very small pool of schools you need to look at.

Pensionerpeep Fri 09-Jan-15 10:22:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

steppeinginto2015 Fri 09-Jan-15 10:24:02

Yes, but it wasn't the final factor. It was more important for us at secondary, and that is mainly because ds is very academically able, so we were looking for a school to suit his needs.

Other factors:
primary - ofsted, location, intake (we chose the school with a mixed intake rather than the one with 90% from one estate) facilities, size of school, how well they dealt with different needs in class.

But honestly? It is very very close to our house and when we visited it had a really happy enthusiastic buzz. That is really how they are now we are there.

secondary - mainly results in combination with school ethos and atmosphere. I love the head, he was so positive about the boys in his school, I wanted my son to be under his care. BUT if he ran a school with crap results, he wouldn't have gone.
Honestly - in this school it is cool to be clever, that was our gut reaction. Has been totally confirmed since ds started.

Just to contrast with what is said above, we moved mid year for primary and could have chosen from 6 primaries (within 2 miles) who would have been able to take us.
Secondary, we could have applied for (and others in ds class got into) 8 schools.

Elllimam Fri 09-Jan-15 10:29:47

smile our oldest doesn't even start nursery until next year and we have checked the league tables for secondaries. We want him to go to a nursery attached to a primary and our primaries feed into specific secondaries. Therefore we have picked nurseries based on league tables for secondary schools. Written down it looks a bit crazy though.

Purpleflamingos Fri 09-Jan-15 10:32:55

I didn't check. I visited to school, spoke to the head, spoke to the class teacher about emotional well being and caring for the children, then applied late for reception year as we were not happy with the catchment area school.

Pensionerpeep Fri 09-Jan-15 10:35:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

steppeinginto2015 Fri 09-Jan-15 10:55:56

It is interesting, as I said up thread we chose secondary partly because we really liked the head.
But the school that was going to be our no.2 choice had a head that we really liked, he said all the right things, really nice guy. Then 3 weeks before applications had to go in we found out he had been replaced and new head was 'addressing the issues at the school' I found a friend of a friend with son in year 9 and asked her about it. Turns out she was desperate to change her ds to another school, the 'lovely' head was great at PR, good with parents but really not a good head and had left behind a whole set of problems.

bryte Fri 09-Jan-15 11:03:03

I did look at league table positions, more out of curiosity, but I sent my DD to the nearest primary school when we applied for a Reception place. It was the only school within walking distance and the only school I looked around. I was happy with what I saw.

We moved to a new town hundreds of miles away a year later and I viewed the league tables to get a feel for the schools which had a mid-year application place, but again, I made my final decision based on my feeling after visiting the school.

Beinghere Fri 09-Jan-15 11:43:22

I looked at the league tables, OFSTED reports, visited the schools, twice, spoke to parents that had children at the school and came to the conclusion that it was debatable if it was the schools teaching that made it top of the league tables or the fact every child appeared to be tutored outside of school. Also the fact that the schools that OFSTED deemed outstanding were the ones that had what looked like the most bored students.

We chose to send ds to one in special measures that we are more than happy with. The pupils are a happy lively bunch and he loves it. Most of my friends who know the school tried to warn me off it but 2 years later they are now hearing amazing things about the school and it's reputation is being rebuilt.

TheBitterBoy Fri 09-Jan-15 11:47:01

Only in as much as we decided the area of town we were going to live in based on the local primary and secondary when DS was a baby. Obviously things can change, but I was astounded how many of my friends with children the same age never even considered their local schools situation until they came to apply and realised they were in catchment for a not particularly good school.

Messygirl Fri 09-Jan-15 11:50:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Itsgoingtoreindeer Fri 09-Jan-15 12:44:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

forago Fri 09-Jan-15 12:57:04

State schools arent "a decision" where I live (outskirts of London) - its all about how close you can get to the school.

Despite this, I have always and would always look at league table positions and all published reports I could find for all and any schools in my area that my children could be allocated or that I was considering for my children.

I don't know anyone who hasn't looked at league tables for local schools if they have school age children - except perhaps those that have never considered any state schools and knew they were definitely going private.

happyyonisleepyyoni Fri 09-Jan-15 13:07:41

Yes but only because we were also relocating and therefore had to decide where to live, choice of school influenced our decision. That was 10 years ago and in the meantime lots of new people have moved into our area from London because of the schools and house prices.

whereismagic Fri 09-Jan-15 13:33:46

I checked all the schools in our borough as I was not educated in this country and didn't know what to expect from primary education. 2 years before applying I visited all outstanding and good with outstanding features schools just to get a feel what (supposedly) good education should feel like. Talked to parents and generally OFSTED rating fits in with parents' opinion. Got a good idea why our nearest school is the worst in the borough. 1 year before DS started reception visited all the rest of the schools where we had a fighting chance of getting into. Ended up in independent sector as all the schools are bursting at the seams and there were too many bulge classes at good schools in previous years. It's stage 2 now as I will be researching state schools for year 3, hoping it will be easier to get in a good school later on.

SandStorm Fri 09-Jan-15 13:41:01

Not for primary but I did look when it came to choosing a secondary school. Ultimately though it played no part in our decision.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Fri 09-Jan-15 13:51:16

For plenty of people there would be little point because there is no choice. In some places there are tens of children who never get offered a place before reception starts despite it being a legal obligation to provide one.

We didn't look at league tables for reception but did look at OFSTED and talked to people just to check our closest school was ok. As it happens it's outstanding so we are very, very lucky.

Now we are looking to move and I'm looking at league tables, OFSTED for primary and secondary and visiting primary schools.

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