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What does a School League Table show?

The Department for Education (DfE) publishes league tables every year to reflect the exam results of children in primary and secondary schools. The aim is to motivate teachers to improve academic performance.

If you'd prefer a PDF version of this page, simply click School League Table PDF.

Comparisons are made on a national, regional, and local scale, with the latter being the most crucial rankings when selecting a school. The primary school league tables, critical for Key Stage 2 pupils, are released in December, indicating their performance in reading, writing, and mathematics against national standards.

Schools are deemed to have maintained the required academic performance if at least 65 per cent of their students achieve the expected standard. For secondary schools, the key indicator is the new Progress 8 score, evaluating the progress of pupils from primary to secondary school in eight key subjects. Learn more about the Progress 8 score in our insightful What Is A Progress 8 Score? article.


League tables also rank schools based on their GCSE and A-level exam results. Explore this interactive map to discover the best performing schools in England across 46 counties.

Locating School League Tables

Visit Search for schools and colleges to compare online to assess school performance in your local area. This page provides access to recent Ofsted reports, professional competence assessments, and more, alongside exam and test results.

For detailed information on Ofsted, refer to our Ofsted Explained page.

The DfE page prompts you to name a school of interest and enter the area or region for comparison, generating a list of local schools and their relative standings. Refine your search by school type and characteristics.

Key Statistics in School League Tables for Parents

For primary schools, the best indicator of academic performance is the percentage of pupils meeting expected standards. Any score above 65 per cent signifies the school outperforms the national standard.

Schools are judged to have kept up with required academic performance if at least 65 per cent of their students achieved the expected standard.

Reading, writing, and maths scores reveal whether pupils are average, below average, above average, well above average (top 10 per cent), or well below average (bottom nine per cent). In secondary schools, Progress 8 assesses academic development across eight subjects, replacing the former method of ranking based on GCSE passes.


Advantages of School Ranking

Several benefits make school league tables valuable:

  • Parents gain a clear indication of teaching standards.
  • All schools are assessed using the same statistical data, enabling fair comparisons.
  • Parents identify potential areas for improvement in schools.
  • Outstanding teachers receive recognition as their schools rank higher.

Drawbacks of School Ranking

Unhappy secondary schoolgirl crying on a flight of stairs

School league tables have limitations. They do not account for certain aspects:

  • They do not gauge children's happiness at school (refer to the school's latest Ofsted report for this information).
  • Smaller schools with fewer pupils may have rankings disproportionately influenced by exceptional or poor academic results of a few students.
  • Improvements made by a school after the latest tables might not be reflected in its ranking.
  • Other crucial factors like after-school activities and meal quality are not considered.

While school league tables provide a rough comparison, visiting potential schools provides a more in-depth understanding.

Understanding the Data

A zero score indicates pupils performed similarly to those in other schools. Above or below zero suggests more or less progress, respectively, than schools with similar primary results.

Utilize league tables for a basic comparison, but visit schools for a more detailed picture before making a decision.

Exploring Further

For a more comprehensive view, explore our Knowledge Bank page. It's a collection of articles covering various educational aspects to inform parents. The page offers advice and tips for raising happy and secure children.


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