Guide to the Best Schools in Bristol

With over 150 schools in the area, choosing the right one for your child may seem like a daunting prospect and for families looking to call Bristol home, it’s a central part of the moving process.

The right scholastic environment can set your child up for the rest of their life, not only by providing an education but a valuable network of support and socialisation outside of the home. So, it’s no wonder that surveys have found that 1 in four parents have moved due to, or specifically based their move on, the catchment areas of desirable schools.

Luckily, Bristol has a number of excellent schools spanning the length and breadth of the city, but even so, choosing the right school can still be a tricky ordeal. Not only do you have to find a school that suits your child, but often securing their place involves ducking a lot of red tape and jumping through hoops.

Planning your move to Bristol and ensuring everything goes smoothly on the big day is stressful enough as it is without the additional worry of securing a place at a school in your new area. The best thing to combat this is to plan ahead, though that too can be tricky when you don’t know exactly where to look, who to contact or what to do.

We can’t offer your child a place in their dream new school, but we can give everything we’ve learned about Bristol schools and the admissions process over the years compiled in a handy guide format.

Finding the Right School

With catchment areas for the best schools at a premium, it’s normal for parents to check the local Ofsted reports before reading the specifications of potential new properties. With schooling even dictating the area parents choose to buy in.

For more information on where to buy in Bristol, read our guide here:

As with most things, finding the right school in Bristol and ensuring your child gets a place is all a matter of starting early and planning ahead.

The process of finding a school should evolve alongside the search for your new home. If you’re particularly untethered in terms of choosing housing in relation to your area of work, you may find that finding particularly good schools in Redland, or good schools in Horfield, may direct your search.

As you start to narrow down your choice in housing, create a shortlist of schools in that area that you’d be happy for your child to attend.

You can find out what schools are in your area with the postcode finder on the Bristol Council website here:

When assessing potential schools, a great place to start is the Ofsted website, where you can compare the Ofsted reports of Bristol schools within a certain proximity to your new postcode. You can then dig deep into the reports published on each school’s individual performance.

Similarly, the website for the Department of Education can provide a deeper insight into the schools, offering information on attendance, finance and smaller details like the ratio of boy to girl pupils.

Local and National newspapers frequently make lists of the best schools in Bristol and in the UK, of which a couple of Bristol schools often make the list, and can be a good place to get an indication of where and what to look for.

When you have created a shortlist of a few schools, it’s wise to contact their administration office to gauge the likelihood of a successful application. Often this can give you an idea of whether the school will be, or often is, oversubscribed where there’s a high potential your application will be declined.

One of the most important things in this process is to create a dialogue with your child about what they may want. Visiting the schools you’ve chosen so far together allows your child to see whether they would feel happy or can see themselves fitting in there. You may find that this changes the order of preference.

Throughout this process it’s advised to keep your child enrolled wherever they are currently, to ensure they don’t miss any school if the moving day is pushed back.

The Best Schools in Bristol

Using data from the Trinity Mirror Good School’s Guide, we’ve compared a number of schools based on their academic results, characteristics and attendance to give you an indication of the best Primary and Secondary schools in Bristol. However, it’s always best to apply to a number of schools in case one is oversubscribed.

The following names are by no means an exhaustive list of the best schools in Bristol. We’ve focused specifically on the best of the best state primary and secondary schools Bristol has to offer, in an attempt to narrow down the scope of choice. But Bristol also has a number of other scholastic options, which we’ll come back to in a bit.

The Best Primary Schools in Bristol

  1. Victoria Park Primary School, Bedminster
  2. Fair Furlong Primary School, Withywood
  3. Mangotsfield CofE VC Primary School, Emersons Green
  4. Whitehall Primary School, Whitehall
  5. Ilminster Avenue E-Act Academy, Knowle West
  6. Stoke Bishop CofE Primary School, Stoke Bishop
  7. Elmlea Junior School, Westbury-on-Trym
  8. Shoscombe CofE Primary School, Shoscombe
  9. Greenfield E-Act Academy, Knowle
  10. Teresa’s Catholic Primary School, Monks Park

The Best Secondary Schools in Bristol

  1. Wellsway School, Keynsham
  2. Gordano School, North Somerset
  3. Bradley Stoke Community School, South Gloucestershire
  4. Backwell School, North Somerset
  5. Redland Green School, Redland
  6. Colston’s Girls’ School, Montpelier
  7. Bristol Metropolitan Academy, Fishponds
  8. The Castle School, Thornbury
  9. St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School, Redcliffe
  10. Winterbourne International Academy, South Gloucestershire


What constitutes the best school for your child, however, is always going to be slightly subjective. Whilst performance reports can provide an insight into the statistical success of a school, your child may benefit from a learning environment more suited to their particular needs.

Whether you would prefer your child to be educated privately, within a faith-based environment, or has specific requirements that are best served within a specialist school, Bristol has a number of excellent options to cater to those needs.

More information can be found on those schools either through Bristol City Council.

Bristol School Admissions

It may seem that starting your search for schools before you’ve made the move is a bit preemptive, but with oversubscription rates to certain schools at an all-time high, and rapidly approaching deadlines, you can never plan too far ahead.

The current deadline for primary school applications in Bristol, for 2018, is 15th January 2018; and for secondary schools in Bristol, applications close on 31st October 2017.

You will need to coordinate your child’s application with the council in your local authority area (which you can check here) – rather than directly with Bristol council. Meaning your application must be submitted to your current local authority, the council you currently pay tax to, regardless of where you are applying to.

You will need to have proof of your new address before you apply for a school place in your new home. Evidentiary support can take the form of; a solicitor’s letter confirming the move in date, a formal lease agreement from an approved letting agent, or a utility bill if you have already moved in.

If you are moving back to the UK from abroad to a property you already own, the council may ask for third-party evidence, such as a statement from a doctor.

Due to oversubscription in certain areas, admissions offices may require the meeting of certain criteria, which could be anything from the proximity to the school to a previous academic record. For that reason, it is important to apply for a number of different schools, to ensure your child does not miss out, even if they may not end up at your first or second choice.

Bristol City Council has a number of guides available on their website concerning primary and secondary admissions, including what to do when faced with oversubscription and alternative contact details for Independent and Specialist schools, which can answer any questions you may have regarding the admissions process.

You can find them here:

Primary School Admissions:

Secondary School Admissions:

If you do miss out on your ideal school, it’s important to remember that eight of every ten schools are rated as good or above by Ofsted and that Bristol, in particular, has a very high rating across the city. Moreover, as much as schools play an important part in your child’s development, it is equally, if not more, beneficial to create a supportive and positive developmental home environment.

For more information on home removals in Bristol, removals cover, or anything else we can advise upon in regards to your move, give us a bell, Monday through Friday, here: 0117 287 2127

For more information on Bristol, read our guides:

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