Schoolsmith writes school reviews for just over 3,000 prep and primary schools.
Which schools do you review?
UK prep and primary schools. I review 3,000 schools that I think are doing something different or extra that might result in a better educational experience for your child. As a result, all these schools have a Schoolsmith Score.
It happens to represent 15% of all the prep and primary schools in the UK. And it’s not a random selection. It may be pushing it to think of them as the UK’s top 3,000 prep and primary schools as there are schools I’ve not covered yet. But they should be 3,000 of the best. It is a work in progress, and there could be another 500 to add to the list.
Do schools pay for a review?
No, it’s free for schools, just as it’s free for parents. Schools aren’t charged for the photo either. I decide which school to write a review on (systematically I hope), I write the profiles. The schools explicitly do not. And I write them based on evidence, usually in the public domain. But I do ask the schools to check the reviews for factual accuracy and to provide evidence to the contrary if they disagree or if they wish to substantiate a different claim.
Why are your school reviews different to any other?
My objective with the school reviews is to enable parents to compare schools. Why? Because parents compare schools. That’s the big difference. The reviews aren’t a listing of school features; you can get that from a school brochure. They are designed to highlight how the schools are different.
Can you explain some of the definitions in the school reviews?
I think the Characteristics are self-explanatory. Briefly, on some of the “10 other reasons”;
- Class and teacher/pupil ratios. Pupil and teacher count from Year 1 upwards. Teaching teachers only (excludes Teaching Assistants, SEN, management time), full time equivalent.
- Specialist teachers. Teachers with a relevant qualification and a specific depth of knowledge in the subject they teach. They are distinguished from the generalist who teaches more than one subject such as a form teacher. Not to be confused with a subject co-ordinator, which, though important, is an administrative role.
- Club and activity count. The number of distinct activities offered to several year groups, as a measure of breadth of education. A school may claim to offer 30 clubs, but 10 of them may be football, one or two for each year group. I count this as one. If football were only offered to a small number of year groups, I wouldn’t count it.
- Scores in the school comparisons. These are rebased raw scores for an aggregation of some of the 50 criteria that make up the Schoolsmith Score. They do not take parental preference into consideration and so are unweighted and not comparable to the Schoolsmith Score. They are there to provide a top-level comparison between these 3,000 schools.
- Distances to other reviewed schools. On the search menu, the distances are “as the crow flies”. In the profiles they are driving distances. There can be a significant difference.
**Actually, FAQs is a slight exaggeration. It should be Qs really. At the time of writing, there hadn’t been a single Question, let alone Frequently Asked. Rest assured that I’ll be adding to this page once Qs become a bit more FA.