Choosing a Primary School is undoubtedly one of the most important decisions you will make in your child’s early years. The first school a child attends will impact on their education well beyond the age of 11. It will have a bearing on the friends they make and ultimately their own decisions in the future.
So, with that weight to bear – which school should you select? Those choosing independent schools will already know that their schools are not bound to the National Curriculum and so there is possibly more variety regarding facilities, subjects taught and even ethos.
However, whether selecting state or private education, you will want to refer to Ofsted reports and KS2 results to help in making a decision. In addition to these, it is important to visit a shortlist of schools to allow you to meet the headteacher and children to see the school on a normal day (although this may be an organised open-day, it still gives a far better insight than you can find on the internet). Those all important KS2 SATs data are listed by LEA on the government website. Below you will find links to Primary School league tables by LEA. Schools’ performance can vary widely within a borough and there are many reasons for this. Each school’s data will also vary from year to year and it is important to check trends and bear in mind that although a school may appear not to have many high achievers, it doesn’t necessarily mean your child won’t do well either academically or otherwise.
Please be aware that interpretation of data published on this page has been made by the author and is open to error and subject to change each year (this article was originally written in 2014), so please check the tables yourself (they are very interesting – you’ll be glad you did!).
Bracknell Forest has two schools where 100% of pupils achieved Level 4 or above in English and Maths in 2012: Winkfield St Mary’s CofE and Crowthorne CofE. The LEA as a whole has 79% of pupils reaching this level.
Reading has one school where 100% of pupils achieved Level 4 or above in English and Maths in 2012: Churchend Primary School. The LEA as a whole has 77% of pupils reaching this level.
Slough The best performing school is Claycots, where 95% gained level 4 or above in English and Maths. The LEA as a whole has 77% of pupils reaching this level.
West Berkshire where 100% of pupils achieving Level 4 or above in English and Maths in 2012 was achieved by Brimpton CofE, Compton CofE, Englefield CofE, St Finian’s Catholic, Welford and Wickham CofE and Yattendon CofE Primary School.
Windsor and Maidenhead has three schools where 100% of pupils achieved Level 4 or above in English and Maths in 2012: Bisham CofE, Lowbrook Academy and Oldfield Primary School. The LEA as a whole has 84% of pupils reaching this level in comparison to a national average of 79%.
Wokingham has two schools where 100% of pupils achieved Level 4 or above in English and Maths in 2012: Aldryngton and Finchampstead CofE. The LEA as a whole has 82% of pupils reaching this level.
Most denominational schools (generally listed as CofE, Catholic or Islamic) will have an additional form you (and a representative from your place of worship) need to complete when applying. This is likely to include questions regarding whether you and/or your children have been baptised, how long you have been attending a relevant church and how long you have been registered on a church’s electoral role. In many cases places are allocated bases on these criteria.
Ofsted inspection reports use a whole range of criteria to assess a school. When considering a school, you will no doubt want to check the latest inspection report. This will give you an insight into the teaching and facilities at the school and will allow you to further narrow your choice. A list of outstanding providers can be downloaded from the Ofsted website. Apparently, there are 5 primary schools in Berkshire which Ofsted has given an Outstanding rating (if you interpret this differently please let me know). These are Finchampstead CofE and Aldryngton in Wokingham (Remember these two in the SATs results above?); Birch Copse Primary and Hampstead Norrey CofE Primary in West Berkshire and Khalsa Primary School in Slough.
In addition to analysing the above data you may consider registering with The Good Schools Guide. They offer invaluable information such as a catchment map which may give you an idea of prospects of being offered a place based on your location; pupil to teacher ratio; persistent absence rates and which secondary schools the pupils go on to.