These are key documents couched in layman’s language. It’s worth reading the inspection reports for the schools on your shortlist.
School inspectors will have spent much more time in the school than you will be able to and are experienced at identifying the schools strengths and weaknesses. Their reports can throw much light on the whole school − not just its curriculum, teaching and facilities, but also on the ability and behaviour of its students, the working relationships between its staff and the management and the competence of the Head.
You can find the inspection reports on the website of the inspecting authority.
ISC schools (HMC, GSA, Society of Heads, IAPS and ISA) in England are inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate – www.isi.net
Non-ISC schools in England are inspected by Ofsted – www.ofsted.gov.uk
In Scotland, the HMIe Inspectorate – www.hmie.gov.uk
In Wales, the Estyn Inspectorate – www.estyn.gov.uk
In Northern Ireland, the DENI Inspectorate – www.deni.gov.uk