Help users to select a school from a list of all schools in England.
When to use this pattern
Use this pattern if you need to ask users to select one or more schools in England.
When not to use this pattern
Do not use this pattern if you can get the information in another way, for example by linking users with an existing account.
Do not use this pattern if asking users which schools they attended, and they may have attended school a long time ago or outside of England. Instead, use a regular text field.
How it works
The pattern uses an autocomplete. This allows users to search for a school using its name or a reference number, and then select a school from a list of matching results.
You can get a list of all schools in England (around 50,000) from the Get information about schools service.
You can either download this data periodically and update the list in your service, or use their API to fetch updated data as a daily task.
Using school references
There are many different unique references for schools, including:
- Unique Reference Number (URN) – from the Get information about schools service (previously from Edubase)
- UK Provider Reference Number (UKPRN) - from the UK register of learning providers
- LAESTAB number
- Postcode of the school address
You should research with the users of your service to see which references they may be familiar with. If one or more reference is comonly used, you can support this within your autocomplete to save users time and help avoid errors.
Lots of schools in England have the exact same name. To help users select the right school, display some information alongside the name.
Depending on your service, you could choose to show:
- city or town
- a reference number
Filtering by type of school
Depending on the needs of your service, you could filter the list of all schools to reduce the number of false matches.
You could filter the list by:
- phase, for example primary, secondary
- school funding type
- removing schools that have closed
- including or excluding multi-academy trusts (MATs)
Research on this pattern
This pattern has been used successfully by many services.
Services using this pattern
Lots of services from the Department for Education are using a variant of this pattern, including:
- Get information about schools
- Schools financial benchmarking
- Find school and college performance data in England
- Register trainee teachers
- Get help buying for schools
Help improve this pattern
Contribute to this guidance to help improve the pattern for others.
Changes to this page
- Fixed styles for links so hover and active states are correct.
25 July 2023
- Fixed typo on page See GitHub issue #42
25 July 2023