How we ranked the schools

The different ranking structures for primary,secondary, state and independent schools explained.

Welcome to the 2016-17 edition of The Sunday Times Schools Guide, a fully searchable database of Britain’s leading schools. It allows you to quickly search and compare the leading 2,000 state and independent schools in England all ranked by their most recent examination results. With examination results and rankings going back to 2010 in many cases, this is the most comprehensive resource covering elite school performance in the UK.
Searching by Parent Power tables

The Parent Power tables are divided into independent and state schools. The full menu of tables – three this week, rising to 18 next – currently published on this website is shown on the home page. To view our selection of the best schools from each of these categories simply click on the relevant section. The database will compile the table and display the results in rank order.

From this point, you have two options:
1. Access a school’s details by clicking on its title in the table
2. Refine the table you have called up in a number of ways.
Reordering tables
You can re-rank all of our tables by clicking on any of the columns or by using the small arrows in each column header. For example, by clicking on “town” at the head of the relevant column you can sort the schools alphabetically by location. This will help you identify the schools closest to the area you are interested in although using the website’s search engine will perform the same task more efficiently.

The schools can also be sorted alphabetically by clicking on “name”. Where several sets of examination results are combined to produce an overall ranking for a school (at Key Stage 2, Level 5, for example, we use English reading, English writing, English grammar and maths outcomes), rankings for each of the examinations individually can be produced by clicking at the head of the relevant column. So clicking on the English writing column will produce a table of schools ranked solely on performance in the English writing element of the SATs. This will display in ascending order (from the bottom of the table up) in the first instance, but clicking on the column header a second time will rank the schools in descending order (from the best down).

Searching using the search function

Searching is also possible using the Search function button in the main navigation bar. This is the best way of refining your searches efficiently. This will take you to a Search box giving you four options to search for schools by:
School name
Postcode
Town
Local authority
School name:
enter the name of the school you are interested in finding out details about. If it is one of the top-performing state or independent schools that are contained in our database, the school’s name will be displayed. By clicking on it, you can access the school’s details.
Postcode: having selected the Postcode tab, enter your postcode or that of the address you are interested in. The search engine will return results listed according to their proximity to the postcode entered (nearest first). This unique function will allow you to identify the top-performing schools nearest to where you live. Click on the schools’ names to access further details
Town: enter the name of the town where you live or the nearest town to where you live. All schools that feature in our tables within that town will be displayed in rank order. So, the best-performing schools within their tables will be listed first.
Local authority: Select your local authority or the local authority area in which you are interested from the dropdown menu. Schools that have addresses within that local authority area – whether or not they are local authority-controlled – will be listed, again in rank order. This means state academies and independent prep schools will appear in any sort of schools derived from this search function alongside those that are local authority-administered.


Students are proud to go to Dame Alice Owen School and it is the first non-grammar school to clinch the State School of the Year award

Tables

The top 400 independent, top 500 state secondary, top selective state schools, and top comprehensive (and partially selective) schools

Schools are ranked by performance at A-level and GCSE in summer 2016. The number of A*, A and B grades gained is expressed as a percentage of the total number of A-level entries overall. This is double-weighted. The number of A* and A grades gained at GCSE is expressed as a percentage of the total number of GCSE entries overall. This is single weighted. School rankings are based on their combined performance in these examinations. Rankings based on performance at A-level or GCSE alone can be found by clicking on the relevant columns displayed in the league table.International Baccalaureate outcomes (although listed in a separate tables also, to be published on December 4) have been converted to equivalent A-level grades where schools have asked us to do so. IB Higher level outcomes grades 7, 6 and 5 are equivalent to A-level grades A*, A and B respectively. The same principle applies to Pre-U outcomes, although they are also included in a separate section, see below. D1 and D2 was taken as equivalent to A* at A-level; D3 and M1 was taken as equivalent to an A-grade and M2 to a B grade at A-level.

The top 75 sixth form colleges

Sixth form colleges are ranked on their performance in public examinations in summer 2015. The proportion of students achieving AAB at A-level in two or more “facilitating subjects” is used to rank the colleges. Facilitating subjects are those required by many leading universities and include, English, maths, further maths, physics, chemistry, biology, history, geography, and languages. Where the proportion of students achieving AAB is the same, the average overall level 3 points attained by students in 2015 is used as a separator. Rankings based on 2015 level 3 points attained alone can be produced by clicking on the relevant columns displayed in the league table.

The top 20 independent schools for Pre-U

Introduced by Cambridge University, the Pre-U is designed to be more academically stretching than A-levels with attainment at the top end (Distinction 1 (D1) well ahead of the highest A* A-level grade. Performance is measured at three levels, each divided into three sections Distinction (D1, D2 and D3), Merit (M1, M2 and M3) and Pass (P1, P2 and P3). We have ranked schools on the proportion of Pre-U entries in summer 2016 achieving one of the three Distinction grades. At present, only a few schools have adopted the Pre-U en masse, most notably Westminster School, Winchester College, Eton College, Oundle School, Charterhouse, Rugby School, Marlborough College, Hampton School and Downe House School. Their results are shown in bold in the league table.

The top fee-paying schools with small or no sixth form (50 schools)

Independent schools catering for 11-16-year-olds or those with small sixth forms (with 10 or fewer A-level candidates in 2016) are ranked by performance at GCSE examinations alone in summer 2016. The number of A* and A grades gained at GCSE is expressed as a percentage of the total number of GCSE entries overall. A-level results achieved in those schools with a small sixth form have been disregarded. All rankings in this category ignore GCSE performance of the schools in the main independent secondary league table. They are rankings solely among independent schools with small or no sixth forms.
The top state secondary schools with no or new sixth forms (50 schools)

Schools with no sixth form catering for 11- to 16-year-olds only (or those with new sixth forms), are ranked by performance at GCSE in 2016. The number of A* and A grades gained at GCSE is expressed as a percentage of the total number of GCSE entries overall. All rankings in this category ignore GCSE performance of those schools in the main state secondary school league table. Three schools have been included in this section where sixth forms have only recently been added and no A-level examinations have been sat yet.

The top independent secondary schools in Scotland (Highers/Advanced Highers/National 5) (28 schools)

Independent schools in Scotland following the Scottish examination system are ranked on performance in Higher and Advanced Higher by the end of S6 and on National 5 examinations taken by the end of S4 in summer 2016. The number of A and B grades gained is expressed as a percentage of the total number of Higher and Advanced Higher entries overall. This is double-weighted. The combined number of National 5 grade As is expressed as a percentage of the combined total number of National 5 entries overall. This is single weighted. School rankings are based on their combined performance in these examinations. Rankings based on performance at Advanced Highers/Highers or National 5 alone can be found by clicking on the relevant columns displayed in the league table.
The top independent secondary schools in Scotland (A-level/IB/GCSE) (7 schools)

Schools are ranked by performance at A-level and GCSE in summer 2016. The number of A*, A and B grades gained is expressed as a percentage of the total number of A-level entries overall. This is double-weighted. The number of A* and A grades gained at GCSE is expressed as a percentage of the total number of GCSE entries overall. This is single weighted. School rankings are based on their combined performance in these examinations and the eight schools are included in the main UK independent secondary school table. St Leonard’s School and Fettes College offer the IB Diploma in their sixth forms and the outcomes of these examinations are converted to an A-level equivalence, with IB Higher level outcomes grades 7, 6 and 5 equivalent to A-level grades A*, A and B respectively. Rankings based on performance at A-level or GCSE alone can be found by clicking on the relevant columns displayed in the league table.
The top 50 state secondary schools in Scotland

Scottish state secondary schools are ranked on outcomes for students who left school in the summer of 2015. The examination information is released by the Scottish Government. We rank schools on the proportion of students gaining five or more Higher examinations (grades A-C). This is doubled weighted and added to the proportion of students gaining five or more National 5 passes and the proportion gaining two or more Advanced Highers (grades A-C). The latter two outcomes are single weighted. The rankings are based on schools’ combined performance in these examinations. Rankings based on performance at Highers, Advanced Highers or National 5 alone can be found by clicking on the relevant columns displayed in the league table. The raw examination data used in this table is filed under individual school names at www.educationscotland.gov.uk/parentzone/myschool/findaschool/index.asp


Destination of state school and independent school leavers 2013

These tables are ranked on the proportion of 2013 leavers entering higher education in either 2013 or 2014 added to the proportion of children going to a university that features in the top 40 universities in this year’s Sunday Times Good University Guide. This methodology effectively double weights those leavers who win a place at a highly selective university. By allowing two years of university entry for the 2013 leaver cohort, we avoid the distortion of data that appears in some other tables of this type arising from having high numbers of gap year students. We also include leavers who enrol at universities overseas.

Other data shown in the tables – one each for the state and independent sector – includes the proportion of children winning places at Oxford or Cambridge; the proportion attending one of the 24 Russell Group of research-intensive universities (all of which feature in the Sunday Times top 40 above); and the proportion going overseas to study.

The table can be re-ranked on any of the five destination measures to show the best schools for overall participation in higher education, Oxbridge entry etc.

The data is reproduced on the individual school e-pages together with a rank-ordered list of the top 10 university destinations for each participating school.

The universities included in The Sunday Times top 40 are: Aston, Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Durham, East Anglia, Edinburgh, Essex, Exeter, Glasgow, Imperial College London, Keele, Kent, Lancaster, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London: King’s College, London School of Economics, Queen Mary, Royal Holloway, Soas, University College London, Loughborough, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford, Queen’s Belfast, Reading, St Andrews, Sheffield, Southampton, Strathclyde, Surrey, Sussex, Warwick, York.

Approximately 220 state secondary schools and 100 independent secondary schools have taken part in the survey so far. It is our intention to add to this database of university destinations in the coming months to make it a more complete dataset of destinations for Britain’s leading state and independent schools.

The top 500 state primary schools in England

Primary schools are ranked on their performance in Standard Assessment Tests (Sats) taken in 2015, 2014 and 2013. The proportions of pupils achieving Level 5 or higher at Key Stage 2 (taken by 11-year- olds) in all of English Reading, English Writing and Maths are shown in the tables. Level 5 attainment is that expected of a 13-year- old, in other words two years above the age of the children sitting these tests. The Level 5 scores for all three years are then aggregated to produce an overall score out of 300. Rankings for each of the three years can be obtained by clicking on the head of the respective columns in the league table. Where the aggregate score is tied the number of pupils achieving the score is taken into account with larger schools getting more children to the particular level of attainment ranking higher than smaller ones. Only those schools where 20 or more pupils on average have taken these examinations are included in this ranking of 500 schools. Performance at Level 5 for each of English Reading, English Writing, English Grammar and Maths individually across all three years can be found on the individual school profile pages, accessed by clicking on the school name in the table. Further historic Sats data from 2012 and before at Level 4 (the expected level of attainment for children aged 11) can also be found on the individual school profile pages.
Top 50 small state primary schools in England

Small primary schools are ranked on their performance in Standard Assessment Tests (Sats) taken in 2015, 2014 and 2013. The proportions of pupils achieving Level 5 or higher at Key Stage 2 (taken by 11-year- olds) in all of English Reading, English Writing and Maths are shown in the tables. Level 5 attainment is that expected of a 13-year- old, in other words two years above the age of the children sitting these tests. The Level 5 scores for all three years are then aggregated to produce an overall score out of 300. Rankings for each of the three years can be obtained by clicking on the head of the respective columns in the league table. Where the aggregate score is tied the number of pupils achieving the score is taken into account with larger schools getting more children to the particular level of attainment ranking higher than smaller ones. Only those schools where 20 or more pupils on average have taken these examinations are included in this ranking of 500 schools. Performance at Level 5 for each of English Reading, English Writing, English Grammar and Maths individually across all three years can be found on the individual school profile pages, accessed by clicking on the school name in the table. Further historic Sats data from 2012 and before at Level 4 (the expected level of attainment for children aged 11) can also be found on the individual school profile pages. Schools where more than 10 but fewer than 20 pupils on average have taken these examinations are included in this table

The top 100 independent preparatory schools

Prep schools whose pupils take Standard Assessment Tests (Sats) are ranked on their performance in Standard Assessment Tests (Sats) taken in 2015. The proportions of pupils achieving Level 5 or higher at Key Stage 2 (taken by 11-year- olds) in both English (reading, writing and grammar) and maths are shown in the tables. The three English scores are then averaged and added to the maths score to produce an overall score for English and maths upon which the school is ranked. Rankings in each of the four components of the Sats can be obtained by clicking on the head of the respective columns in the league table. Where scores are tied the number of pupils achieving the score is taken into account with larger schools getting more children to the particular level of attainment ranking higher than smaller ones. Only those schools where 10 or more pupils on average have taken these examinations are included. The results are obtained from the Department for Education using the Freedom of Information Act and sent to prep schools for verification or amendment. Some schools, known to The Sunday Times submit their Sat results to us direct. There is no legal requirement for independent schools to enter their children for Sats. About one-third of independent preparatory schools sit Sats.

Gender classification

The gender by which schools are classified on this website is the predominant gender of the main intake. Only schools that are fully mixed throughout are classified mixed. So a senior girls school with a mixed prep department will be shown in tables as a girls school, although its Parent Power listing page will contain the additional information to show there is a mixed prep department. Where it is indicated there is a mixed nursery, this means there is a mixed intake to the age of 4, a mixed pre prep school has a mixed intake to the age of 7, while a school with a mixed prep department has a mixed intake up to the age of 11 or 13. So, a girls school that takes boys into its nursery (2-4), pre prep school (4-7) and prep department (7-11/13) would be classified as girls, mixed prep under gender of entry on its listing page, but show as a girls’ school in any tables. An M displayed after either a blue blob (for a boys’ school) or a pink blob (girls’) indicates that the school has a mixed sixth form.

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