As a parent looking at moving house in Scotland, it struck me that finding school catchment areas and school performance reports was a time consuming job.
My wife and I are planning on moving house and prefer state education for our daughter than privately funded education, so knowing what school catchment area each house we looked at would be in is a vital piece of information.
Property portals like Rightmove, Zoopla and Lettingweb (excellent for rental property, by the way) generally provide a link to the closest school, but the closest geographical school is not always the school which you are in the catchment for. This is particularly the case for secondary schools.
How we currently find school catchment information
What I discovered was that in order to find the information I wanted, I had to do the following steps for every house I looked at:
- Find the address and postcode of the property (this is easily done, of course)
- Identify what local authority it comes under. Now, this is obvious when you look for a house or flat to buy in the city centre, but harder as you move out of town. For example, where does Fife end and Clackmananshire start? Or where does Edinburgh City become East Lothian?
- Once you know which local authority, you have to find their website. A quick trip to Google will sort that.
- Once on their website you have to navigate to the right section, bearing in mind that all local authority websites are designed differently. The page might be called “What’s my school catchment?”, “School catchment map”, “School catchment areas” or “Find my nearest”, depending on which local authority you are looking at.
- Having found the page, you often have to go through another page or two before you can search for your house. Of the 32 Scottish Local Authorities, about 15 have interactive school catchment maps and the rest either have downloadable PDFs (or nothing at all).
- So having founding the webpage for school catchment areas for the local authority in question, you navigate through their system and eventually identify the school which your children will be going to.
- Next, you need to search Google for the Education Scotland website.
- Then find the Schools page.
- Then search for the school in question.
- Then look for the information on School Performance.
- Then search the Education Scotland website for average information in that local authority (so you know how well the school compares to its peers).
- Once you’ve done that, you now know which primary school catchment your house is located in and how well that school performs compared to others in the area.
Now, assuming your child will stay in state education, you need to redo the process to find out which secondary or high school which you are in the catchment for!
If you are lucky enough to buy the only house you look at, the above steps aren’t so tedious – you only need to do them once. However, if you are an average house hunter, you’ll look at about a dozen properties before you finally make the decision.
Solution: Instant Summary of your School Catchment and School Performance
So that’s why I created Rezzio. I wanted a tool where I could put in the postcode of where I was looking at buying a house or renting a flat and then it would tell me within a few seconds all of the information about primary school catchments, secondary school catchments, number of pupils in the school, suitability of the school buildings and percentage of pupils with good exam grades.
I then looked at the data which I could access freely through the Open Government Licence I found that I could access the attendance record for each school. This information is valuable to me in terms of making an educated guess about the likely school environment. Some schools have a truancy levels above 10%, compared to an average across Scotland of 1%. So I gathered the information about attendance, authorised absence, unauthorised absence, exclusions and truancies and presented that for each school.
Overall, I hope this project is beneficial to parents looking to buy or rent a house or flat and ensure that the school their children end up going to is the right one for them.
I would love to hear your feedback and any comments or suggestions for future improvements. Contact me here.