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Getting to the point of our stars

Melanie Butler explains how we calculate the points on which we base our new banding system, and how it relates to the British Council’s inspection reports

The raw data for the quality star system is based entirely on British Council inspections as reported in their summary statements. This information is in the public domain. Since 2013 the summary statements have appeared at the foot of the first page of a full report (or on the final page of spot-check reports), and all the reports are published on www.britishcouncil.org/education/accreditation/centres.


A document containing a complete alphabetical list of all the current summary statements since 2010 by centre can be found on the British Council website. It is updated regularly but the latest iteration can be found here: www.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/a-z_feb_2016v3.pdf.

Each summary statement confirms that the centre has met the standards of the scheme. In addition the British Council can award a point in an “area of strength” in each of the following fourteen areas:

• staff management; student administration; quality assurance; publicity (under the Management criteria)

• premises and facilities; learning resources (Resources and Environment)

• academic staff profile; academic management; course design; learner management; teaching (Teaching and Learning)

• care of students; accommodation; leisure opportunities (Welfare and Student Services)

Centres taking under-18s can also be awarded a point of strength in an extra (15th) area: care of under-18s.*

Inspectors can also note a “need for improvement” in up to three of those fourteen or fifteen areas (more than three needs for improvement generally leads to a failure at inspection).

The star system is based on a quality score. To calculate a quality score for each school inspected we simply count the number of strengths printed in the summary statement and subtract any needs for improvement. The average number of strengths scored nationally is 3.75. Since all centres listed meet the standards of the scheme no additional points are given for this. We add an extra half point to centres which do not take under-18s to differentiate them positively from schools with the same inspection score but with a higher maximum-possible score.

If the British Council finds serious cause for concern in one or more of the main criteria, the summary statement is withdrawn until the centre is re-inspected. The British Council requests that the information in the report is not published. In this case its website publishes the name of the centre, noting it needs re-inspection, but does not publish any of its scores.

Stars are awarded in percentile bands based on the quality score that centres obtain. The breakdown of the bands and the relevant percentiles are given below:

Total number of British Council accredited schools: 549*

One star: Awarded to centres which receive a score of between -3 and 0. Number: 140 (25% of total**)

Two stars: Awarded to centres which receive a score of between 0.5 and 2.5. Number: 100 (18% of total)

Three stars: Awarded to centres which receive scores of between 3 and 4.5. Number: 98 (18% of total)

Four stars: Awarded to centres who receive scores of between 5 and 7.5. Number: 104 (19% total)

Five stars: Awarded to centres who receive scores of between 8 and 15. Number 107 (20% total)

* Does not include three centres which don’t permit the British Council to publish their summary statements. The British Council withdrew this option in 2012. We are approaching the British Council on how to represent these schools.

** Includes twenty centres which have failed an element of inspection. The British Council does not permit the publication of their results until it has re-inspected them. These centres appear without their results and do not receive a star on our website.