Welcome to findaschool by 192.com

 findaschool

Welcome to the new findaschool blog. Over the coming weeks and months, the team will be writing short posts to tell you all about the findaschool service, to provide advice on school admissions in the UK, and to offer some insights from the admissions data we have collected over the past few years.

findaschool by 192.com launched in November 2015. It’s a free guide to schools in the UK, designed to help families make informed decisions about their child’s education, and with a particular focus on information about admissions.

The original version of findaschool, which began life in 2011, was borne of frustration in trying to understand my chances of getting a place at various primary schools in London. My wife and I had a young son and were planning to move house, and realised very quickly that we would need to factor in local schools. However, I hadn’t expected it to end up dominating proceedings.

I don’t have a faith and have no inclination to pretend otherwise, and even if I could afford private education, I would prefer my children to go to state schools – at least for their primary education. So, we were effectively limited to community schools. When these schools are oversubscribed (and in London two-thirds of primary schools were oversubscribed in 2015), admissions are usually determined by where you live in relation to the school: live too far from the school and your chances of getting a place fall dramatically.

Most (although not all) local authorities now publish cut-off distances to explain how places were allocated last year. This is helpful, but leaves parents with rather a lot of work to interpret the data to judge their chances of getting a place at the school of their choice.

findaschool fills this gap by plotting Successful Admission Areas.  These are the areas that you would have needed to live in to get a place at the school last year. These areas take account of the diverse array of admission criteria used by schools across the UK – from those measuring distance on the basis of walking routes, to schools with pre-defined catchment areas, to those giving priority if you apply to your nearest school, and more.

The original version of the site only included schools in London, but the plan was always to expand the coverage. However, when I started findaschool I hadn’t appreciated the scale and complexity of the task of collecting and processing data for the 25,000 or so schools in the UK. In 2014, 192.com bought findaschool and we have now undertaken this painstaking task. It has required well over 1,000 Freedom of Information requests, and dealing with data in different formats from more than 200 local authorities, and lots of individual schools.

As a result of this effort, findaschool now provides an invaluable service for parents researching schools – especially those looking to move house – providing admissions information for at least 95% of all state schools in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It will tell you whether a school was oversubscribed, plot Successful Admission Areas where these are relevant, and give you a summary of the admission criteria used by the school. In addition, we provide details of school inspections (including the inspection result of the school under its previous incarnation if it has recently converted to become an academy); exam results; class sizes; and various statistics about the make-up of pupils at the school.

The site continues to develop with lots of new features planned for the coming months. For example, you will soon be able to see the full history of admissions data that we have collected – going back to 2010 for some schools in London. In addition, we are now starting to explore and analyse the data in more depth to find things like the areas which give you the best (and worst) choice of schools – watch this space for more on this topic.

We are always looking to improve the service, and would love to have your feedback on the site. If you have any comments or suggestions, then please either email findaschool@192.com, or send a tweet to @findaschoolinfo.

New from 192.com – Property Report!

 

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We’re very proud to announce that we have launched a new product – Property Report!

Available for residential properties in England and Wales, a Property Report contains a wealth of information that is crucial to anyone thinking of moving home – whether renting or buying.

Information in the reports includes:

  • Up-to-date valuation
  • Owner information
  • Extensive information about local schools, primary and secondary
  • Area crime statistics, including a map of recent local crimes
  • Current occupiers
  • Mortgages and other charges affecting the property
  • Maps and pictures
  • Neighbours

Check out Property Reports here!

Check your date with 192.com!

If you’re one of the many people now looking for love online, you’ll already know that online dating has its pitfalls – sometimes the picture doesn’t quite match the person, or the person who claimed to like foreign films turned out to mean anything with Arnie in it. Of course, you have to chalk those up to experience and try again.

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However, there is unfortunately a slightly darker side to some of the deception that goes on under the cover of some online dating sites – people who are using them to find targets for financial and other frauds. We’ve all seen the stories in the press of people who were somehow persuaded into parting with their life savings after coming into contact with confidence tricksters.

You can – and should – take measures to protect yourself if you are in this sort of situation.

Take a look at our new “Check Your Date” page, which gives some helpful hints. It also has a search form, and if you are getting into something serious, or you are at all worried about someone you’re seeing, you can order a background report about them.

2015 edited Electoral Roll is live!

The first major tranche of the 2015 edited Electoral Roll has been published and is now live and ready for searching on 192.com!

More than 15 million new name and address records have been added to the site, so if you have been searching for someone in the past, it’s a great time to search again.

Search the 2015 edited Electoral Roll!

It is also a great resource for ensuring that your contact information for friends and colleagues is up-to-date. Click the link above to search our updated people databases.

 

Discount codes for 192.com

Are you looking for discount codes or vouchers to use on 192.com?

We do occasionally publish temporary discount codes on special occasions – see below!

However, if you really want to make sure that you get all special offers from us, you need to do the following.

1) Set up a free account with 192.com if you have not already done so! When you register, make sure that you tick the box allowing us to send you email.

2) If you’re already registered, set your email preferences to ensure that you receive all email from us!

3) Follow us on social networks – pick whichever you use:

 

Note – there is a special Black Friday code available now! For 30% off all credits purchases, enter the promotional code BFBL4121 in the appropriate box when selecting your credit package. Offer closes on 30 November 2014 and can’t be combined with any other offer.

200 cybercrime gangs in London alone

An interesting piece in the Evening Standard reports the Metropolitan Police as saying that there are more than 200 organised gangs in London conducting some kind of online or ‘cyber’ fraud.

Police warn that these sophisticated operators often use social engineering – a combination of manipulative tricks and psychological techniques – over lengthy periods to gain the trust of victims.

There are new centres being set up to combat such crimes but individual vigilance is also needed. If you meet someone online, especially if you are going to engage in any kind of transaction with them, please take the time and care to verify their identity independently.

Check out our Background Reports and our identity check service for more. And be careful…

 

Open Electoral Roll data update

The latest updates to the 2014 open Electoral Roll are now live on 192.com. There have been around 300,000 new and updated name and address records published to the site now since the last quarter.

If you’ve been looking for someone before and not found them, it might be worth another go now. Give our people search a try!

The updates include people that register with local councils through the year, which they might do if they move home, arrive in the area, change their names or otherwise need to update their electoral roll details. 

 

Dating scams back in the news

Online dating has opened up a world of possibilities for meeting new people, but it comes with its own new dangers; in particular that you have to be very careful about the identity and intentions of the people that you meet.

It could be a systematic scam taking hundreds of thousands, as with this story from the Mirror, with 19 British victims reported, or it could be a few hundred pounds as in this cautionary tale from the Banbury Guardian – again the victim was found via a dating site.

There are lots of ordinary nice people out there too, but if you are putting your trust in someone that you’ve only met online then you could be asking for trouble. Take the time to protect yourself and check them out first – it’s easy to do on 192.com.

Cost of UK online fraud ‘£670m’

UK losses from online fraud have hit £670m a year, according to this piece in the Guardian today.

Fewer than one-third of victims have reported their losses, according to the survey on which the piece is based, but more than half of those surveyed said that they had suffered from some form of cybercrime in the past.

Don’t be a victim – if you are dealing with someone new that you have only encountered online, you need to check their identity carefully before proceeding – use an online identity check from 192.com or for the full picture, get a full Background Report.

Crime is down – if you exclude online crime!

Official crime stats apparently exclude a range of online offences – and if they were included, the crime rate would actually be going up! That’s according to a piece in the FT, which says that crime rates would be 40% higher if these were included.

That just gives you an idea of the scale of online crime and the extent to which crime has migrated online.

When you’re dealing online, make sure that you know who you’re dealing with!