FIND YOUR PERFECT
Your ultimate guide to schools and properties

The most accurate and frequently updated data

Schools are being continually inspected thoroughout the year.

Whereas most other school websites update their data only once or twice a year, we refresh our data every two to four weeks to ensure you are equiped with the very latest, most relevant information and inspection reports.

We pride ourselves on the accuracy of our data, which is down to our festidious data processing. We continualy compare ourselves with other providers (big names and small) and believe that we are offering by far the most superior data.

Inspection reports and exam results

We continually collate, cross reference and cleanse data from a large array of sources, including:

Ofsted
Independent Schools Inspectorate
Bridge Schools Inspectorate
School Inspection Service
Estyn (Wales)
Education Training Inspectorate (NI)
Education Scotland
Department of Education (England)
Welsh Government
Education Scotland
Department of Education (NI)
Independent Schools Council

Unique school catchment indicator

By analysing where the most recent intake of pupils currently live, we are able to provide catchment area indicators around schools.

Uniquely to us, we have removed pupils who are given priority over distance, such as siblings and children with special educational needs.

Siblings typically make up a third or more of an intake and are usually given priority over more local children, which can dramatically distort the perceieved catchment area of a school.

Zoopla properties

Our partnership with Zoopla allows us to display all properties currently listed for sale or rent on Zoopla.

You can easily browse photos, floorplans, descriptions and price changes, arrange viewings and even create your own shorlist of properties for side by side comparison, viewing at a later date or sharing with friends.

Create school and property shortlists

You can quickly and easily create your own school and property shortlists; by clicking the heart icon at the top of a pop-up window.

You can then compare your shortlisted items side by side, share your shortlists with friends and/or save them for use later.

We save your shortlists in a cookie for you, so they are retained between browsing sessions.

League tables and school rankings

Our league tables and school rankings are calculated by comparing the performance of pupils in the key school phases, i.e. key stage 2, GCSE and A-Level.

Our leagues tables page is soon to be revamped with some exciting new features, in the meantime, it can be viewed using our previous design here.

Academy conversions

A lot of schools have or are currently converting to academies.

When a school converts to an academy the old school is listed as closed and a new one listed as opened in its place.

However exam results and inspection reports from the old school are still relevant, at least until the new academy has proven itself. Hence, we display inspection and performance data from the old school with the new academy.

Commuting

Identify areas that are within a certain commuting time from your home or work using our National Rail commuting page.

Our commuting page is soon to be revamped with some exciting new features, in the meantime, it can be viewed using our previous design here.

The history of locrating

Back in 2009, when my wife and I considered moving home, we didn't know where we wanted to move to, but we definitely wanted to be near good local schools for our children. Every time we found a potential area, we spent hours trawling the web gathering information on schools and reading their Ofsted inspection reports. It took us ages and quickly became very frustrating.

We did find some websites that speeded up the process a little, but we soon discovered that their data was unreliable; some schools were mysteriously missing and often links were broken and data out of date. They almost always required a postcode to be entered to start with, something we often didn't have.

We decided that what we needed was something that showed schools on a map, which you could scroll around and most importantly showed, at a glance, some crucial information about the schools; primarily their Ofsted report ratings and exam results. We Googled and browsed all night, but it became clear that there was nothing out there that does this.So, being a software developer, I decide to write one for us ... and locrating.com was born. Since then locrating has gone from strength to strength and undergone many improvements and face lifts.

Thank you to all of you that have sent us encouraging meassages over the years and continued to spread the word about locrating; it is much appreciated. We always welcome feedback, be it good or bad. Feel free to contact us with any comments, suggestions or complaints. Finally, in case you are wondering, the name locrating came from a friend and is a word play on locating by [Ofsted] rating.

Lewis Tandy, Director, Locrating Ltd

Some important notes on catchment areas

State school admissions are about so much more than simply where you live. There just isn’t a magic catchment area and any catchment indicator or heat map must not be relied upon too heavily. If you are seriously considering a school, you really need to visit it and speak to the person responsible for admissions.

Here are some important points regarding school admissions and the plotting of catchment areas:

Myth 1: All schools have catchment areas

If a school is not oversubscribed, it must accept pupils from anywhere, e.g. it doesn’t matter if you live inside or outside of the school’s borough or in fact halfway across the country. Problems only arise when schools are oversubscribed, which for the best schools is likely to be the case. For these schools "catchment areas" are often confused with priority areas; if and only if a school is oversubscribed then, in some cases, priority is given to children who live within a certain area. But, even living within this priority area does not guarantee an offer of a place at that school.

Not all oversubscribed schools have priority areas, e.g. academies, foundations and free schools have extra freedoms as they are able to seek the right to opt out of some elements of the School Admissions Code in their funding agreements. The number of academies is growing rapidly and high on the government agenda so expect many more schools like this. Another example would be a school on the edge of several local authorities – the local authority that the school is in often does not give priority to its residents; it is done on distance, regardless of the authority you live in. So, in a huge number of cases there is no safe "catchment area", it just depends who else happens to apply that year.

Myth 2: It’s all about distance

Although distance plays a key role, it is by no means the be all and end all when it comes to school places being offered. To understand this, let’s look at how a the primary school admissions process works. Schools receive every year, just before April, the list of all the children who applied for their school and the distance they live from that school (the applicant can live anywhere). Remember for undersubscribed schools everyone gets in, for oversubscribed schools, the school’s admission code is then applied to that list. For a non-religious state primary school the code would typically accept pupils in the following priority:
Looked after children (fostered by the local authority) or adopted children.
Siblings – this means brothers sisters, half-brothers or half-sisters and step-brothers or step-sisters (if they are living at the same address).
Distance from the school, usually measured in metres as the crow flies. (Local authorities have tools that can measures distance down to the nearest cm.)
Running alongside these there are other priority categories, such as ‘social/medical’ e.g. in cases of domestic violence, social care involvement, special educational needs, disability, youth offending service involvement, police involvement etc. These numbers are often relatively low and so can be largely ignored as a big influencing factor in this discussion.

Admissions criteria for other types of schools can be a minefield as the Governing Bodies or Diocese are their own admissions authority and they have some quite unique admissions criteria in some cases. Religious schools usually have church attendance before distance and parents have to get a supporting letter from the priest at their local church in order to increase their chances of getting in. Distance is therefore often at the bottom of the list!

Because uniquely to us, we have removed pupils who are given priority over distance, such as siblings and children with special educational needs, we believe we have the best catchment area indicator available.

Myth 3: The past can predict the future

What happened in the past is just that, in the past. Much can change on a year by year basis. Consider the following:
Number of siblings – siblings can often range from a third to two thirds of a class. You could live opposite the school and miss out to siblings whilst your neighbour’s children all attend the school.
Bulge classes – due to population pressure, lots of local authorities in high population areas ask schools to take in extra classes just for that year. This can give the impression that more children get in to that school, from a wider area, than previously. There is no way to predict which schools will take bulge years as this is a highly sensitive and confidential decision that local authorities take in conjunction with the schools once the applications have come in at the end of January.
Bulge siblings – the sibling issue can be exasperated by bulge classes in previous years; extra children in bulge years mean extra siblings in later years. All being given priority over distance, it is not unheard of that only siblings are offered places some years and no one from the local area, no matter how close they live.
New build housing – if the local authority or private contractors decide to build more houses right next to a school, there will suddenly be more children in the immediate area who will likely want to attend the school. Those extra children push others who would have previously been offered a place, out of the "catchment area".

You might be thinking, "oh these are very rare things", but really they are not. Bulge classes are becoming increasingly common as schools struggle to cope with increasing demand. Of course, for those moving to quiet villages or areas where the population has not changed much, the places from which local schools admit children may not change dramatically each year, but there are still no guarantees.

Additional complications with secondary schools

Secondary school admissions can be even more of a minefield, especially if they work on selective entry. Let’s consider the most famous selective schools - grammars.

The pressure for grammar school places is often exceptionally high, super bright is no longer good enough, you now have to be super, super bright. So what happens - well parents get tutors and/or send their children to private prep schools. So a "catchment area" will be a reflection of affluence and ambition, rather than a reflection of the distance that people live from the school. One cannot look at an area and assume just because I live there I am going to get into this grammar school – actually the reality is probably more likely to be, I live here because I can afford to and therefore I can afford a tutor and/or independent preparatory school to get my child into a grammar school.

Other state secondary schools can have their own variations of admissions criteria, particularly with the growing number of academies and free schools – which are, as mentioned previously, very high on the Government agenda.

For example, some academies use a “postcode lottery” – imagine a large lottery style machine that they enter postcodes into and then this machine spits out the names out of the lucky few. Who gets to go in to the postcode lottery? The children who are applying all sit a banding test and representative samples from all bands go into the postcode machine, e.g. if 50% of children end up in the top band they offer 50% of places to those top band children – what this means is that it is impossible to predict a "catchment area" as you don’t know who will apply, let alone how clever they are and which band they will get in to.

There are other state schools who offer some kind of scholarship programme – this is not like an independent school scholarship, where fees are reduced - but rather a way to prioritise children for admissions with particular talents, e.g. there might be maths, sports and music scholarships. This means they can set aside a proportion of their places for those children regardless of distance or siblings or any other run of the mill admissions criteria – again "catchment areas" have no way to predict who will apply for these and how many of these will be offered out.

Free schools, well they can just do whatever they like, literally, but they have to publish what they do.

How does Locrating's catchment area indicator work?

Where we have pupil data, we shade two circles around each school. The inner circle shows the area where 50% of the last intake of children, excluding siblings and other special cases, currently live. The outer circle shows where 94% of the last intake of children, excluding siblings and other special cases, currently live. This obviously means there is a small number of children living outside the shaded area, however as there are often special cases that cannot be identified in the data, we have decided to remove these outliers to provide more useful information.

The key thing to take away from this is, don't assume you can or cannot get into a school based upon previous intakes, instead:

If you are seriously considering a school, you really need to visit it and speak to the person responsible for admissions.