Ask Susan: Is ranking important when choosing a UK boarding school?

When searching for a good boarding school in the UK, it might be the intention of most people to judge a school by its school ranking on League Tables. But which factors are school rankings based on? And how important are they when choosing a UK boarding school?

Which factors are school rankings in the UK based on?

Most secondary school rankings are based on A-level or GCSE results and/or the number of students that get into a highly ranked university afterwards.

What are the advantages of school rankings?

Rankings seem like a good starting point if you do not know a lot about UK schools. It’s a quantifiable and objective way of comparing schools and gives a good indication of which schools are academically focussed.

What are the downsides of school rankings?

As stated above, the majority of rankings available only measure one thing: the output of examination grades. If good schools were purely judged by the success of their students producing exemplary exam grades, League Tables would be more than fair as a definitive benchmark. In reality, we know this isn’t the case. Often the best schools are those that help a failing student to graduate with a healthy pass, those that identify the potential in a student and subsequently nurture it, and those that can equally cater for the most and the least able intelligently. These schools are most likely unranked and often cannot be fairly ranked because their value is not measured by the conventional output of how many A* and A grades their students achieve.

How do highly ranked schools often differ from the rest?

Mentoring services in the UKA highly ranked school would most likely:

  • be highly selective at entry, and since academic standards are already high, the school’s teaching doesn’t necessarily have to be to the highest standard to ensure students do well;
  • stop students after their GCSE years from moving onto A-levels if their performance does not meet school standards;
  • offer fewer academic but more applied subject choices (for example: Photography, Textiles, Computing, Business);
  • have fewer facilities and services for students such as horse-riding, canoeing and badminton.


Should I consider rankings for UK boarding schools?

Ask yourself, if you believe what defines a good school is more than the academic top grades it’s students deliver, you shouldn’t choose a UK boarding school solely based on League Tables. Instead, pay attention to the strengths and weaknesses of your child and deduce from that what he or she needs in a school.

How can UKG help with choosing the right school?

UKG offers a customised school placement service dependant on the needs of your child, to ensure that the school fits your child in the best possible way and they can reach their full potential. Please contact us for more information or to book a free initial phone consultation.