What is in the tables?
The tables measure school performance data. This is statistical information showing how well pupils in England have done in public examinations taken at key points during their school careers.
At primary level, these are the national curriculum tests, or Sats, taken in Year 6 at the age of 10 or 11.
While for secondary schools, the statistics detail pupils’ performance in GCSEs (and equivalent exams) at age 15 or 16 and A-levels (and equivalents) at age 17 and 18.
Secondary performance used to be judged mainly on what proportion of pupils gained at least five GCSEs above a C grade, including maths and English.
But that changed in 2016, with two new measures, known as Attainment 8 and Progress 8, introduced.
Attainment 8 measures pupils grades across eight key subjects, while Progress 8 assesses their progress compared with what was expected of them based on their Sats test scores at the end of primary school. Schools are given a score based on how their pupils have progressed compared with the national average.
The secondary school league tables are published in January.
The league tables are often the first port of call for parents who want to choose schools for their children or simply judge how well schools in their area are doing.
Ministers say the tables help drive up standards by providing valuable information for parents and increasing local accountability.
And research carried out by Bristol University suggested the abolition of league tables in Wales in 2001 had led to a drop in standards in about three-quarters of schools.
Should I choose a school for my child based on league tables?
The tables show how well a particular year group of pupils at a given school has performed in tests or exams.
The tables will not tell you anything about the extra-curricular activities on offer such as sport and drama or details about a school’s pastoral care system.
Some of these details may feature in the school’s Ofsted report, but there is no substitute for visiting a school you are interested in sending your child to or talking to teachers, parents and current pupils.