Skip to main content

Agencies listed in this section are the official accreditation or inspection agencies that are run by the government, or have been given authority to accredit or inspect the schools in that country. These are not just membership organizations, but objective, arms-length and unavoidable for legitimate schools.

They are the most important tool a parent has for verifying even the most basic standards in a school, let alone excellence. Beware of the many lookalike agencies with fool-the-eye initials. Despite their assertions that this or that is "just as good", no agency is listed in this section unless we're as certain as we can be that it has real teeth and validity.

If the initials don't line up with those of one of the accreditation agencies listed in this section (and do ask what they stand for): red flag here. There are certainly bogus accrediting agencies, giving meaningless certification to equally bogus schools.

Some countries simply license schools, and others have organizations that are so influential that their league tables and rankings are confused with official status (like the Fraser Institute in Canada, whose Report Cards can make headmasters tremble across the land but which still don't make or break the legitimacy of a student's diploma. One more independent tool, yes, but not an official inspection agency. 

Membership in some organizations (like the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)) or British Schools in the Middle East (BSME) is only possible if the school is accredited by an approved agency.  Another membership organisation, the Council of British Independent Schools  (COBIS), is so well respected that it is recognised by the UK Department for Education(DfE) and its members may join the UK teachers retirement and pension scheme. These are not official accrediting agencies, but membership in them does carry weight and serves as a marker for legitimacy. 

There's no gold plated guarantee that all schools accredited or overseen by these agencies haven't lost the plot, but most of the time, it's a pretty good bet that you can depend on them as a base line for good standards. If you can't, this guide tries to tell you why, or what adjustments might make the difference.  


Related articles

  • Special Needs introduction

    Signs of special needs in school age children; how to get help; which type of school to choose; Education, Health and Care Plans ... Read more ... Need help? Perhaps you suspect your child has some learning difficulty and you would like advice on what you should do. Or perhaps it is becoming clear that your child's current school is not working for him or her, and you need help to find a mainstream school which has better SEN provision, or to find a special school which will best cater for your child's area of need.  Our SEN team helps…

  • The Good Schools Guide online subscription

    Find the best school for your child. One month subscription - £0.49 per day Three month subscription - £0.41 per day Six month subscription - £0.33 per day One year subscription - £0.29 per day 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 are interested in. ☑ Find comprehensive advice on state and independent schools, tutors and special needs. ☑ Receive our monthly newsletter. For further…

  • Where to find a state grammar school

    Identifying and locating grammar schools. Grammar schools are located in 36 English local authorities. Almost half of these are considered 'selective authorities' (eg Kent and Buckinghamshire), where around one in five local children are selected for grammar school entry based on ability. The others are areas such as Barnet or Kingston, with only a few grammar schools.

  • Schools for children with performing arts talents

    As proud parents, we all know our children are unique. They're smarter than anyone else's, funnier, certainly more attractive, better behaved and above all bursting with the kind of talent that would leave Daniel Radcliffe, Jamie Bell and Charlotte Church standing. And for some extraordinary - though totally understandable - reason, everyone but us seems blind to our offspring's God-given artistic gifts.

  • State boarding schools

    If you think your child would benefit from a boarding school education, but are put off by the high fees and consequent limited social mix of a typical independent boarding school, you may find that a state boarding school is the answer

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.

An Education Manifesto from The Good Schools Guide

Just published - The Good Schools Guide 21st edition - 1200 schools fully reviewed and updated. Buy now