Where To Live In London For The Best Primary Schools | sheerluxe.com
For families, or those planning to start a family, the quality of local schools is often the most important factor when deciding where to move. With competition for places higher than ever, it pays to be savvy and pick an area with a high concentration of ‘outstanding’ state schools. Here, five Savills property experts give us the lowdown on the London boroughs with the best selection of primary schools…
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In the prime London markets, buyers are prepared to pay over the odds to be within walking distance or the catchment area of the capital’s most highly regarded schools. Buyers pay an average of £685,000 to live within 500m of the best primary schools – some £93,000 more than the average for a property that’s close to a ‘Good’ school and £196,000 for a school that ‘Requires Improvement’. 

In 2018, more than one in seven primary-school applicants in the capital didn’t get into their first choice of school and 4% weren’t offered a place at any of their top three preferred schools. That’s why parents should look to areas with a high concentration of excellent schools, instead of pinning their hopes on just one institution. Across London, Ofsted rates 28% of primary schools as outstanding, but this figure varies by borough from 54% in Kensington and Chelsea to only 10% in Barking and Dagenham. All primaries in Camden and Tower Hamlets are currently rated good or above, so living there could be a sensible option for anyone who wants to settle in an inner London neighbourhood and has schooling as a priority.

Liza-Jane Kelly, Director of Residential Regional Management at Savills, tells us more about where to look and when…

If you want to be in a catchment area for the top schools, where are the best places to live?

There are many places in London with good family housing stock, excellent commutes, great local parks and, of course, highly rated schools. If you look at boroughs like Richmond upon Thames, you’ve got a considerable proportion of primary schools rated outstanding (50%) and a significant number of pupils are offered their first-choice school (88%). There’s Richmond itself, but other popular neighbourhoods in the borough include Barnes, Twickenham and Teddington, which have the properties, facilities and amenities that many families want in a place to live. Lambeth and Wandsworth are popular south London choices for similar reasons. If you look further east, somewhere like Hackney has over 50 primary schools rated good or outstanding and has many of the lifestyle offerings you get living south-west, plus it could offer better value.

How far in advance of a child starting school should parents be looking to buy in their chosen area?

It’s never too early to be thinking about schools. Increasingly we see young couples who have a long-term mindset: they may not have a family yet but are planning for their future. Ultimately if a couple’s budget means they can afford to buy a house, large flat or sizeable maisonette where they can raise a family, it’s a really sensible idea to do so. Although that life stage might be a little way off, people definitely ask about local schools and are often pretty clued-up about the ones that are highly rated. The fact people are getting on the ladder later, along with the fact we are now living in our homes for longer, means many buyers are making decisions that maybe ten or so years ago wouldn’t have been a consideration. Ultimately, if time is on your side, then thinking ahead is a wise thing to do, but there are also lots of buyers who will begin their search once their children are nearing school age and will still be moved in before their child starts school.

Should you move house between primary and secondary school?

This very much depends on personal circumstance. Some families choose to make the move out of London ready for their eldest to start senior school but, ultimately, this completely rests on someone’s lifestyle and other family factors and work commitments. In all London boroughs, there are strong performing seniors – some of them grammar schools – and you tend to find at senior level a school’s intake will have a bigger catchment area. Beyond catchment areas or academic performance, some schools have specific admissions criteria; this is true of faith schools and those which have feeder primary schools. What you do tend to see is that, for senior school, pupils will travel further across town if they need to. 

The Six Best London Boroughs For State Primary Schools

CAMDEN

Proportion of outstanding schools: 41%

Best state primary schools: St Paul’s in Primrose Hill; Primrose Hill Primary in Primrose Hill; Fitzjohn’s Primary School in Hampstead; Camden School For Girls in Kentish Town; Abacus in Belsize Park.

Alicia Lindsay, Savills Primrose Hill/Savills St John’s Wood:

“St Paul’s, Primrose Hill Primary and Fitzjohn’s are all old, established primary schools with great reputations and then at senior level you have Camden School for Girls which has excellent facilities and a great reputation. Given that it’s a central borough, lots of schools in Camden have high-profile parents. Some families opt to rent and will want to be as close to these schools as they can, as they are viewed to be just as good as the private schools in the area. Not all families whose children attend these schools will live in houses – which can cost around £4m – but three-bedroom family flats instead. The schools aren’t the only draw to the area for parents: Primrose Hill Park, Regents Park and Hampstead Heath are among the best green spaces in London and, although it’s close to central London, the area feels like the suburbs. Primrose Hill in particular has a lovely village-y feel. The area is also well-connected via the Northern line.”

HAMMERSMITH & FULHAM

Proportion of outstanding schools: 39%

Best state primary schools: Lady Margaret’s in Parsons Green; Holy Cross in Eel Brook Common.

Phillippa Dalby-Welsh, Savills Prime Central London:

Lady Margaret’s girls’ school is extremely well located and a significant draw to the area. Families also love Holy Cross in Eel Brook Common as it’s very accessible – parents love being able to walk their children to school. There’s a real sense of community in the borough: people actually live here, it’s not second-home territory. Hammersmith & Fulham is very leafy. Lots of families have dogs and there are plenty of green spaces to walk them, plus the transport links are great, as the District and Piccadilly lines run through the borough. In central Fulham you’re looking at £1.7m-£4m for a family home, while in prime Parsons Green and Eel Brook Common, it’s more like £2m-£4m. 

KENSINGTON & CHELSEA

Proportion of outstanding schools: 54%

Best state primary schools: Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle in South Kensington; Bousfield Primary School in The Boltons; Fox Primary School in Kensington Place.

Phillippa Dalby-Welsh, Savills Prime Central London:

“The state schools in this borough are very popular and a definite draw for families. In Kensington, family homes come in around £2m-£5m, whereas lateral flats start around £1.5m. Away from its excellent schools, the area is well-loved for its plethora of weekend activities: there are lots of family friendly coffee shops and restaurants, plus a network of charities and children’s clubs that get kids out and about. Finally, the bus network in Chelsea is excellent – perfect for getting the children to school.”

LAMBETH

Proportion of outstanding schools: 44%

Best state primary schools: Telferscot Primary School in Streatham; Henry Cavendish in Streatham; St Mary’s Catholic School in Clapham; Macaulay C of E Primary School in Clapham.

Helen MacBrayne, Savills Clapham:

“Clapham, and Clapham Old Town in particular, attracts a real mixture of buyers. It’s a trendy area with lovely architecture, a nice atmosphere and lots of great restaurants and bars that spill out onto the pavements. Many of the parents we come across work really long hours, so the area’s proximity to the centre of London is another plus. Young families also move to Lambeth as there are lots of other families already here – there’s a real community feel, plenty of green spaces and lots of great nurseries as well as primary schools. Family flats in the area tend to go for around £900,000-£1m, while four-bedroom houses start at around £1.4m.”

RICHMOND UPON THAMES

Proportion of outstanding schools: 50%

Best state primary schools: The Vineyard School in Richmond; Marshgate Primary School in Richmond; Grey Court School in Ham; Teddington School in Teddington.

Abi Gibbs, Savills Richmond:

“Both The Vineyard and Marshgate in Richmond are rated outstanding by Ofsted and have a high percentage of acceptance, which makes them very desirable. They’re also both in the Richmond Hill Triangle, which is one of the nicest areas to live in. Richmond is so popular as it’s really close to central London, but has the park and the river. There are also fantastic links into London, via the Tube and trains. The average four-bed family home starts at around £1m, but lots of parents like to rent first, to get to know the area and make sure their child gets into their school of choice before they buy. Three-bed rental properties cost an average of £3,500 per month.”

WANDSWORTH

Proportion of outstanding schools: 39%

Best state primary schools: Ravenstone Primary School in Balham; Rutherford House in Balham; Henry Cavendish in Balham; Honeywell Junior School in Battersea; All Farthing Primary School in Wandsworth; Swaffield School in Wandsworth; Floreat Wandsworth in Earlsfield; Beatrix Potter Primary School in Earlsfield.

Helen MacBrayne, Savills Clapham:

Wandsworth is a very domestic market. We’re finding that while people aren’t moving house quite so often these days because of stamp duty, they are buying bigger, long-term properties earlier – often way before they have children. While there are many great private schools in the area, the many outstanding state schools mean there’s an element of, ‘Why would we pay if we don’t have to?’ Away from great schools, another draw for families is the abundance of green spaces – such as Wandsworth Common and Clapham Common – and the great transport links into central London via the Northern and Victoria lines. The average house price for a four-bed detached property is £1.2m-£1.5m.

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