The struggle to get your little ones into the best schools is fierce. Before you rent a cheap flat in the catchment area and start getting your post forwarded there, why not consider whether it’s possible to buy. We’ve trawled league tables and plumbed the depths of Mumsnet to find locales that are highly desirable for families and great destinations for a proper education too. Whether you’re looking for city, country, independent, state or grammar, our guide’s got you covered.
A great all rounder for states and independents. The west of the county especially, boasts some of the best state schools in the country. As for independents, Eton College is of course the most well known, but other excellent choices are: the Oratory, Pangbourne College, Bradfield College and Wellington College.
Berkshire is also highly commutable to London, so a viable option if you’re looking to keep up work in the city. Windsor is the obvious choice and, as a result, expensive. As for other towns you might consider Thatcham, Maidenhead and Ascot. Or, if you’re looking for a quaint village, it doesn’t get much more so than Cookham, which helped inspire Wind in the Willows and is featured in our list of top commuter villages near London.
Not just home to Manchester United, but also a large number of high achieving state schools. A whopping 47 per cent of this local authority’s schools are rated ‘outstanding’, the highest rate outside London. Altrincham Grammar School for Girls is also just down the road and widely regarded as Greater Manchester’s best school. There is something of a dearth of private schools nearby, but some good choices if you’re willing to travel a bit further.
As for the area, Trafford is a mixed bag. To the east is Chorlton Cum Hardy, Manchester’s leafiest of suburbs with some great properties. The city centre is not far away and on the other side of the Manchester Ship Canal is Salford where you’ll find the Lowry Museum, the BBC and all sorts of other amenities.
This might seem like a left field suggestion until you realise it has the highest concentration of good and outstanding state schools of any local authority outside London. Combine that with the fact it’s the smallest county in the UK, with a tiny population, and you have a very good chance of finding an excellent school for your little ones.
As a place to live, it’s not too shabby either. It’s centered around Rutland Waters, a beautiful man-made lake which plays host to sailing, nature walks and a golf course. Oakham is a pleasant medieval market town with some fantastic properties. On the downside, it’s location in the Midlands is far from ideal unless you can find work in the area.
The fact of the matter is that London has the best selection of schools anywhere in the UK – by some distance. In recent decades the capital’s state schools have been lifted out of the doldrums to become the best performing in the country. Its top independent schools outperform the likes of Eton and Harrow with their academic results. There are plenty of outstanding grammar schools too, like Latymer in Edmonton or Henrietta Barnet in Hampstead Garden Suburb to name but two.
If you’re going for state schools, Fortismere, in North London, is hugely popular and a fantastic choice if you’re lucky enough to get a place. City of London, St Paul’s and Westminster are considered the top tier independents, albeit with hefty entry requirements and fees to boot. If you’re not fond of the idea of hot housing your little ones, Highgate is a favourite for its facilities and charming location.
4 bed terraced house right by Highgate School.
Another locale with a great selection of states and independents, York is a real hotspot for education and the average house price is thoroughly reasonable given how livable the city is. Nabum CofE school is a great choice for a state primary. Cundall Manor School is considered by many to be the best independent in the area, although it is some distance from York city centre. Alternatively, the surrounding villages have some good property options.
The city itself has plenty to offer. It regularly comes near the top of the table in the Sunday Times’ list of the best places to live and manages to balance a sense of heritage with feeling like somewhere that’s on the up.
3 Bedroom apartment close to the centre:
Come here for the schools, stay for the stunning countryside. Surrey is widely regarded to have the best selection of independent schools in the country. That’s debatable, obviously, but it does have a very broad selection. Top choices are usually City of London Freemens’ School, Epsom College and Guildford High School for Girls. The Royal Grammar School is also an excellent choice if your dear son or daughter can get in.
Epsom is somewhat cheaper than Guildford, but pretty much everywhere in Surrey is pricey, so don’t expect any bargains. It is a beautiful part of the country with two large areas of outstanding natural beauty, the Surrey Hills and South Downs. Take a look at our rundown of the best places to live in Surrey for some ideas for places to buy.
3 bed semi-detached house not far from Guildford: