Skip to main content

Putting the WOW into teaching...  

The Good Schols Guide CertificateThe winners 

If a school has won one of our subject awards, it has outranked all other English schools in its category (independent, state selective or state non-selective) for the subject and exam concerned: teaching is likely to be very good.

We also give Excellence awards to the runner up schools in each category. The number of excellence awards depends on the number of schools that offer the particular exam and subject: in general we aim to recognise the top 1 percent of achievement.

Note: awards for AS level are given in respect of students who do not take the subject on to A level. That these non-specialists do well and flock to the subject can be a good indicator of teaching quality in highly academic schools, where everyone gets top grades (making comparisons difficult).

List of all schools who have won an award by Local Authority

List of schools who have won an Excellent Performance Award A-M

List of schools who have won an Excellent Performance Award N-Z

How we calculate which schools receive our coveted A level, GCSE or equivalent exam awards for teaching excellence

Each year we give awards to schools to celebrate teaching excellence in individual subjects. We base these awards on our WOW Factor calculations (50 is the average value, and 70 is a very good score) - a combination of:

  • Relative popularity
  • Relative performance
  • Absolute performance
  • Percentage taking

NB schools where all pupils get A* will not show up particularly well because it gets hard to distinguish brilliant teaching from brilliant pupils; in such results  AS results can be a better indicator of which subjects are best in these schools, because they are for pupils who did not take the subject on to A level, and show a wider spread of grades.

1) Relative popularity. Subjects which are consistently well taught become popular over time, as pupils gravitate towards them. We measure the popularity of each subject relative to similar schools which offer that subject. As a measure on its own it can be a fallible indicator of quality -  where a once brilliant department has faded, but pupils are still influenced by past reputation, or where a preference for a particular subject area has become part of the spirit of the school.

2) Relative performance. We compare the performance of pupils in each subject with the grades that they got in all the other subjects that they took. Good teaching should lead, on average, to better performance. Note that some subjects are known to be easier than others, and that on this measure such subjects will always appear to be better taught than they are in reality.

3) Absolute performance. We weight top exam results 

3 points for A*
2 for A
1 for B

Then average the result.

4) Percentage taking. The actual percentage of pupils taking a subject.

All the other measures mean little if they relate to a small number of students, so we bias such results back towards the average.

List of all schools who have won an award by Local Authority

List of schools who have won an Excellent Performance Award A-M

List of schools who have won an Excellent Performance Award N-Z



Related articles

  • Subscribe to the Good Schools Guide

    Instant access to: independent reviews of 1,100 schools in the UK, easy to digest exam data for English schools, interactive catchment area maps,  comprehensive advice on state and independent schools, tutors and special needs.   'The Good Schools Guide school reviews are communicative, interesting, appropriately humorous and reflect an opinion. Well done to you.' - A parent  "the guide regarded as the bible for middle-class school choice" THE GUARDIAN 

  • The Good Schools Guide online subscription

    Find the best school for your child. Subscribe for one month for £15 (£0.49 per day) Subscribe for three months for £36 (£0.41 per day) Subscribe for six months for £60 (£0.33 per day) Subscribe for one year for £105 (£0.29 per day) Try before you buy - The Charter School Southwark Try before you buy - University of Chicago Register for instant access to: ☑ Search for more than 30000 schools in our parent friendly interactive directory. ☑ Create and save lists of schools via My Schools. ☑ Use our comparison grid to get an exam results overview of schools you…

  • Questions to ask when visiting a school - academic matters

    Don't rely on league tables  - look beyond the headlines. Check-out our detailed analysis of results for English state schools to uncover how well a school does for a child like yours. Whether the most able, least able or Annie Average, what matters is how enthusiastic the school is about teaching and developing a child.

  • Exams update

    The revised primary national curriculum started in 2014. English involves more focus on spelling, punctuation and grammar, including mastery of the subjunctive and semi-colons, plus the ability to spell 200 complex words such as controversy, environment, conscience and mischievous, by the end of key stage 2. It also include the use of formal spoken English, to be developed through, eg, poetry reciting.

  • What school league tables do not tell you

    League tables have caused a lot of agony and misunderstanding. As raw statistics, they are more or less meaningless. You will observe, for a start, that results swing wildly according to which newspaper you happen to look at. Among other things they don’t tell you: the pupils’ IQs, school policy, examinations taken or quality of education overall.

Subscribe for instant access to in-depth reviews, data and catchment:

Comprehensive catchment maps for English state schools inc. year of entry.
 School exam results by subject and performance GCSE, Alevel or equivalent.
 Which schools pupils come from and go onto.
 Honest, opinionated and fearless independent reviews of more than 1,100+ schools.
 Overall school performance by GCSE, Alevel or equivalent.
 School data comparison by A/B weighted, relative success and popularity.
 Compare schools by qualities and results.
 Independent tutor company reviews.

Try before you buy - The Charter School Southwark

The Good Schools Guide subscription

 GSG Blog >    In the news >


Educational insight in your inbox. Sign up for our popular newsletters.

Transgender policy now needed in every school

3rd editions of Good Schools Guide - London North and South now available, all entries fully revised with 2016 results. Buy now...