Where to move for good schools in London?

(66 Posts)
KDP Wed 02-Jul-08 12:36:57

My family is returning to London from many years living in America and I have two primary school aged daughters who will need to find a good school. Private school not an option financially and we want to live in London, not the country. Any advice on areas with good overall school standards in which we are likely to be able to transfer our daughters? Looking at Richmond Upon Thames (though wishing Hampstead would seem an option.) Any advice on schools or paths to take? Areas to consider that might not be the obvious choices? Want to be on a tube line and in an area that has overall good schools so SOMETHING will be possible. Help!

titchy Wed 02-Jul-08 12:47:36

I think the problem you will find is that everyone else wants the same! Good state schools are usually VERY oversubscribed and often you will have to live within 50 metres to get a place!

The Boroughs are large too, so if you don't get the school of your choice you could end up being allocated one right at the other end of the borough.

Don't we all! smile

jlimum Wed 02-Jul-08 13:00:29

theres a great primary in hampstead garden suburb called brooklands junior i think and then there is henrietta barnett (girls only)as a secondary school. both are free and highly sort after . the primary is done on how close to the gate you are, but you could rent somewhere to start then buy later. the secondary is entry on test (v. high stds but excellent reputation/high listing on results tables). east finchley nearest tube? i have friends in wandsworth who rave about schools there. (honeywell or some name like this???)similair catchment issues as before though. as titchy says all the best are fought over, house prices are higher the closer you get to the gate.
have you looked at any ofsted reports etc? although there is a problem here with sschools being ranked by results it might give you a steer?
good luck!!!

titchy Wed 02-Jul-08 13:01:23

Oh just realised your children are already at school - in that case you'll just have to keep phoning the schools you're interested in until they have a place. Unfortunately everyone else will be doing just the same.

That's why we moved out of London!

Check out Ofsted and SATS results as a first step assuming you can't yet visit individual schools. Then look at the borough to find out how oversubscribed that school was which will give you an idea of how many other parents will be depserately hoping that a child leaves school so that theirs can take their place.

Good luck - you'll need it!

Runnerbean Wed 02-Jul-08 13:01:41

If you home educate you can live wherever you like!

PortAndLemon Wed 02-Jul-08 13:05:35

Richmond's good for primary schools but (I think) far more dodgy when it comes to secondary schools.

mapleleaf Wed 02-Jul-08 14:41:16

Richmond has excellent primary schools. Provided you are not after a reception place for your child, it may not be as bad as people say to get a place. Especially if you have a child in year 3 or 4, as many local children end up going to prep school and even the extremely popular schools end up with spaces. Once you get 1 child in the sibling should also be top of the queue to get in when another space comes up. Good luck !! Richmond is a great place to raise kids :-)

sophy Wed 02-Jul-08 15:08:56

we used to live in Chiswick which had very good primary schools.

Look at www.chiswickw4.com

squeaver Wed 02-Jul-08 15:16:09

Agree with Brooklands - have heard it's excellent.

Muswell Hill has an excellent primary - Tetherdown - and secondary - Fortismere - but they both have tiny catchment areas because demand is so high and house prices are very high because of that. Although house prices are probably equivalent to Richmond so you could look into it, then you wouldn't be too far from Hampstead!

mimsum Wed 02-Jul-08 19:15:40

Furzedown in Wandsworth has an 'outstanding' primary (Penwortham) and an 'outstanding' secondary (Graveney) - catchment areas for both at traditional entry times are miniscule, but the further you go up the school in KS2, the smaller the classes get. Lovely houses which are much cheaper than Balham and you've got Tooting Common and the Lido nearby. Downside is it's not particularly near a tube - Northern line is closest - lots of people either bike or bus it to tube, or cycle in or use overground from Streatham Common or Tooting

mymblemummy Wed 02-Jul-08 23:53:20

Sutton. No tube but excellent train service and the majority of schools are very, very good.

Heated Thu 03-Jul-08 00:06:17

Have a look at the ks2 league tables. Look for a high overall % Level 4 passrate on which the schools are judged, plus the number of Level 5s scored in English and Maths.

Heated Thu 03-Jul-08 00:08:26

And this links to the GCSE scores for secondary schools.

Heated Thu 03-Jul-08 00:11:29

If you went further afield, say Bromley, you then enter grammar school land, eg St Olaves (sp?) which presumably has good feeder primaries.

staranise Thu 03-Jul-08 15:56:11

Richmond good but the schools are v oversubscribed (though worse at reception level). Putney is lovely, green and pretty with great schools and lots of choice (though dominated by church schools, there are a couple of great non-church schools, Brandlehow and Hotham). Secondary more difficult however. But it's a nice place to live and it has tube, buses and overland.

fridayschild Thu 03-Jul-08 18:42:56

Agree with all that has been said about Richmond. Because so many primary schools there are really very good, there is less stress about getting in to your second choice initially. But the secondary choice is less exciting, unless you are ready to pay at that level.

I hear state secondaries in Kingston are good.

Marina Thu 03-Jul-08 18:46:37

St Olave's in Bromley is a foundation grammar which sets its own entrance exam. Anyone can apply for it and free places are awarded on that basis. It does not have feeder primaries as such and the boys are sent from all over London...for example, Harriet Harman's son went there from Peckham.
Newstead Woods, also in Bromley, is a similar set-up - for girls. Excellent grammar school, places are hotly contested.

Marina Thu 03-Jul-08 18:48:30

LB Bexley has a number of good coed and girls' grammars, but it is so not Hampstead, or Richmond.
It's Zone 4 with no tubes. It depends on where you want to make your compromises tbh.

claricebeansmum Thu 03-Jul-08 18:51:25

Richmond is good - like others have said and it is a lovely leafy suburb to live in

Most of the primary schools in Kingston upon Thames (just down the road from Richmond) are outstanding but oversubscribed as people have realised it's far cheaper to buy a house there than Richmond but the schools are just as good, if not better.
Secondary provision in good for girls but not so good for boys at the moment, although there is talk of a new secondary school in the next 5 or so years.
Kingston also has the riverside and Richmond Park, which we use a lot and wouldn't be without. Oh, and great shopping.

Kingston has three excellent grammar schools, only one of which is fee-paying.

KDP Fri 04-Jul-08 13:35:00

Wow. Thank you all for the responses. What a great primer. Keep up any and all suggestions. I'm most grateful. The education in London is the one thing I think could learn more from America. Here you just move into the town or area that has good schools and you are guaranteed a spot in the one appropriately close to you.

Keep the ideas coming! Many thanks. It warms my heart about joining the Mom community in London.

choucroutegarnie Sat 05-Jul-08 20:33:27

At the much less suburban end of the scale, there is Camden School for Girls.

My step-daughter left that school last year with a bunch of good A levels. She absolutely loved it - she rather misses it now, as she's found her first year at college less inspiring and challenging. It says a lot about the expectations of the school and the quality of its teaching.

Though non-selective (they ensure there are girls of all abilities in the school) it has been consistently excellent for decades and continues to produce hordes of strong, confident and academically brilliant young women each year.

The location is not for the faint hearted (Amy Winehouse territory!) but Camden girls are famous for their street wisdom and sharp wits.

I can't praise the school highly enough. The leadership is outstanding and the teaching is at least as good as that of the most prestigious private schools in London. They prepare their brightest students extremely well for admission to elite universities - in fact, their 6th form attracts a very large proportion of privately educated pupils who come to it to increase their chances of entry into Oxford and Cambridge.

What's interesting about Camden is that it has a pretty good bunch of primaries as well, so if you are interested in London 'proper', rather than the suburbs (wink), it's worth a look.

ScottishMummy Sat 05-Jul-08 20:42:36

N10 muswell hill

MrsMattie Wed 09-Jul-08 19:07:41

I live in the borough of Barnet which has great schools, but you'll have to move practically next door to all of them (less than 0.5 of a mile certainly) if you want to stand a good chance of getting in. I imagine that's the same for all of London?

leosdad Thu 10-Jul-08 14:13:00

Nobody yet has mentioned Redbridge, boys and girls grammar rest are good and some excellent primaries.

KDP Sat 12-Jul-08 14:10:25

Any specific primary schools in Camden that you'd recommend ScottishMummy?

lostinfrance Sat 12-Jul-08 14:19:23

East Dulwich / Dulwich Village has some outstanding state primary schools. East Dulwich is a great place to live, very close to central London, but still green and leafy with a strong sense of community, local shops, good butchers, fishmongers, bread, deli, bookshop etc. Close to some lovely parks too.

Try looking at these local schools:

Dog Kennel Hill
Dulwich Village Infants
Dulwich Hamlet
Rosendale School

12 minutes by train to Victoria, half an hour by bus to Waterloo ..

artichokes Sat 12-Jul-08 14:28:30

Most areas have a few good primary schools the problem comes when you want a good state secondary. I would start be researching those, find one you like and are keen to live near, then find a feeder primary.

summer111 Mon 14-Jul-08 21:08:39

The borough of Redbridge always comes in and around the top three london boroughs for education - very good primary and secondary schools and with 2 (hugely oversubscribed!) grammers.

bigTillyMint Tue 15-Jul-08 10:08:59

Ooh lost in France, you forgot St john's and St Clement's!

scanner Tue 15-Jul-08 10:12:22

I disagree, I moved to get my dc's out of Goodrich school and their new school were amazed at how badly they had been taught. I wouldn't send my worst enemy there.

bigTillyMint Tue 15-Jul-08 10:14:13

Where did you move them to, Scanner?

scanner Tue 15-Jul-08 10:17:55

I moved out of London, I miss ED very much sad.

bigTillyMint Tue 15-Jul-08 10:24:19

Oh, poor you - I LOVE it here, and cannot think of anyewhere I would move out to.

Did you move long ago - it takes a long time to settle into a new place.

Goodrich has a new head, and so does Dog Kennel - dunno what the effect has been / will be...

Goodrich is a very big school, perhaps that is one of the problems?

talilac Tue 15-Jul-08 10:28:40

Re Henrietta Barnett - it may be state but its really really hard to get into.

Girls only, a London wide catchment area, and exam entry. They get 1000+ applications every year for under 100 places!

MadamePlatypus Tue 15-Jul-08 10:43:12

Re: Richmond and Kingston, more green space than any other part of Greater London and have the river. Richmond and Wimbledon on district line, but Kingston connections to central London aren't brilliant. (We have them, but they aren't fast).

As with other similarly well heeled parts of London, loads of brilliant primary schools, but every area has less popular schools. Quite a few people move to private schools at 7, so its likely that spaces will open up.

Why is there a flight to private schools? Because of lack of confidence in secondary education. However, both Richmond and Kingston have very good Girl's secondaries. Kingston also has 2 grammar schools, one for girls, one for boys. (Kingston Grammar is confusingly now a Boy's private day school, not a grammar school). Very competitive to get into Grammar schools.

lazymumofteenagesons Tue 15-Jul-08 17:18:08

I can only refer to north london, but I would definitely look into an area where there is a good secondary school (in the singular because unusual to find more than one). Decent primary schools are not so difficult to find.

Biryani1 Fri 26-Sep-08 20:35:36

If you're moving to Kingston or Sutton then here's a list of good grammar schools:

Wallington High school for Girls
Nonsuch High school for Girls
Tiffin Girls' school

Newstead woods is good but it's a little further afield.

Practically all the good schools are grammar schools. These require tests to get into. If you go to 11 plus they have a couple of papers available to download for free. I'm going through the same process myself so know the burden.

Katie99 Sun 09-Nov-08 03:14:09

Can anyone reccomend some good state schools in Putney, Wandsworth, Barnes or Richmond. We are relocation to the UK from the US and cannot afford to put our daughter in private, she will be in year 1. Also, how can you get into a state school, is it about being within a certain proximity to the school? Will we have a problem b/c it's in the middle of the school year?

spottedandstriped Sun 09-Nov-08 10:12:27

South Bucks has some excellent schools (and the grammar school system

janinlondon Mon 10-Nov-08 09:52:38

Katie99 proximity is generally important but sometimes it will count for nothing. There have been occasions when the entire class allocation is siblings. And proximity varies from year to year - so there is no defined "catchment" area - don't let estate agents tell you otherwise!

mapleleaf Mon 10-Nov-08 09:53:48

Virtually all primary schools in the Richmond borough are very good. Spaces for year 1 really will depend on proximity to the school or church attendance if a church school. year 1 should be easier than reception as this current reception year was less oversubscribed than the previous year. The council admissions department are very friendly and can let you know of available places within the borough. Their number is 020 8891 7514. The richmond council website is also very helpful for specific links to each school.

wilbur Mon 10-Nov-08 10:00:25

There are a lot of excellent primaries in Wandsworth (borough as a whole, not just Wandsworth itself) - Honeywell and Belleville in Battersea, Beatrix Potter in Earslfield and others, but they are hard to get into. There is also Henry Cavendish which is actually in Lambeth but right on the Wandsworth borders - they seem to have a slightly larger catchment area than some. It all goes a bit wrong at Secondary though, only Tooting Graveney is really excellent although Chestnut Grove in Balham is fab for art and making major progress at the moment. Graveney selects 25 to 30% of its kids from all over Wandsworth though, they can sit a special test, so catchement is not crucial there.

jujumaman Mon 10-Nov-08 10:25:21


You will get a place somewhere in Richmond (which covers Barnes)and prob Wandsworth too which covers Putney.

The population is very fluid and spaces occur all the time in all the schools, however popular. And all the primary schools are good. Moving in the middle of a term shouldn't be a problem. You will be fine. Contact Wandsworth and Richmond councils, you can easily google them.

mimsum Mon 10-Nov-08 21:03:12

in order to get into Graveney on distance, you need to live very, very close - we are less than 5 mins walk away and are just on the cusp of the catchment area some years depending on the year group. Graveney only selects 25% of pupils from the wandsworth test (which anyone can sit, not just wandsworth pupils - graveney's had pupils commuting from brighton before now!. Graveney can no longer give priority to siblings of out of area children who pass the test which should free up some more places for local children. There are two local primaries, Penwortham (outstanding ofsted) and Furzedown (only 'satisfactory' but I know plenty of parents who're very happy with their dcs' progress) - there's lots of movement in and out of the schools - in common with most London primaries so getting a place halfway through the year shouldn't be too problematic

QuintessentialShadow Mon 10-Nov-08 21:10:28

Well, let me throw religion into the ballcourt.

If you are Catholic or "general" Christian(with a baptized child and can provide a reference from your parish priest) more school choices open up for you.

My son went to a very good lovely Roman Catholic primary school in Richmond when we lived in London.

marus Tue 29-Jun-10 23:19:40

We are familly of 4 moved from US last year
I would recomend Richmond Vineyard school
my son is very happy there
good luck

RockinSockBunnies Tue 29-Jun-10 23:28:05

Ealing has some very good primary schools that feed into good secondary schools (both Church of England and comprehensive).
We're moving into the borough this summer and the transfer process (DD is currently Yr 4) is going fairly well I think, so there is hope of getting a place at a good school mid-way through your children's education.

hester Tue 29-Jun-10 23:55:54

Teddington (in the borough of Richmond) has five good primary schools and a good mixed secondary school, with a very good girls secondary school up the road in Twickenham plus close to Kingston grammar schools.

You'll pay a premium to live there, but cheaper than Hampstead.

mumzy Wed 30-Jun-10 23:02:05

The problem is with moving into an area with grammar schools is if you don't get in the other state schools tend to be not great. You do need a back up and if you don't intend to use the private system think very hard before committing yourself.

deaddei Thu 01-Jul-10 12:47:55

Agree Kingston is good.
It DOES have 2 non- paying grammar schools, but very difficult to get into as many apply from all over the south.
Has always had negative comments re boys secondaries, but I am pleased to be sending my ds to the local boys in September.

mebaasmum Thu 01-Jul-10 15:11:33

Agree lots of good primaries in Richmond. If you are planning on staying in the area till secodary also be aware of secondary schools as the primaries are linked to the secondaries and it can be hard to get into the better secondaries if you are not at a linked primary even if you live next door to it. The exception is Waldegrave an all girls secodary in Twickenham which has no links so admissions are mainly on proximity (for most pupils anyway)

GiddyPickle Sat 03-Jul-10 11:18:29

Totally agree - there are so many parents chasing exactly the same thing so its very hard to get in. There are good primary schools around Richmond but less good Secondary Schools and 6th form provision very very limited.

Kingston has excellent Grammars (as does Sutton and Wallington) but they have a no boundry admission policy so attract 2000 applicants for 130 places! The standard to get a place is exceptionally high and most children are tutored for the exams for at least a year.

It is the same in many London Boroughs. It also depends if you have all boys or all girls or a mix. There are some areas where there are excellent girl's schools but nothing for boys and vice versa. Teddington has Waldegrave Girls for example (very small catchment area) but no equally excellent school for boys.

mattpaint Fri 15-Oct-10 18:18:58

Anyone else got any experience of Camden School for Girls.
We are in the catchment area but are considering private schools instead. Am I mad?

DancingHippoOnAcid Fri 15-Oct-10 20:51:53

deaddei - which school did your DS go to? How is he getting on?

petelly Sat 16-Oct-10 01:23:36


I don't want to be too down but it could be very very difficult for you to get your children into the school of your choice, especially both of them.

I'm not sure of the ages of your girls, but the the infants (equivalent of Pre-k to Grade 1) are quite full in London at the moment so there's not much spare capacity in general.

The problem is that however close you may live to a school (or whatever other criteria you may fill), that will only put you at the top of the waiting list - you may just have to sit tight and accept a school that's either far away or not very good (or not perceived to be good)- or both.

We moved from the US two years ago and that's what happened to us. We did eventually get a place at the school we wanted, but dd1 has moved schools twice since we came here. Not great considering she was dealing with the whole move from the US to the UK as well.

NOW we have a school that we're happy with - but it's really not been easy. The system here is awful for people moving from outside the area and even worse for people moving from abroad.

Another BIG difference between the US and the UK is that faith schools are also state schools. I don't know what religion you are, if at all, but if you want one of the faith schools then possibly get in touch with the school now to see how you can fulfil their religious practice requirements from the US before you move (when it may be too late).

Good luck!!!

Fiddledee Sat 16-Oct-10 07:02:04

Waldegrave girls school is an outstanding girls state secondary in Twickenham. I would move to be in that catchment area which is getting smaller by the year. One of the local primary schools (all good) will have places as there is alot of movement in the area. Only downside is that if you are near the school you are not that near the station, a cycle ride or a long walk.

onceamai Sat 16-Oct-10 08:38:44

I think you have to identify really good secondaries that you think your girls will realistically stand a chance of getting into and work backwards from there. In and around London there seems to be a huge amount of movement in primaries and once you get one child in, probably the eldest first, I'm sure the younger will be pushed higher up the admissions list. Certainly at my dc's primary only between 10 and 15 of the original cohort were left in Y6 and it was regarded as an oustanding London church school.

stillfeel18inside Sat 16-Oct-10 15:20:01

As everyone has said, primaries are far less of a problem than secondaries, so if you don't want to move twice, I'd look at Teddington/Twickenham (Richmond) as there are two pretty good secondaries: Teddington School (mixed) and Waldegrave (girls), but you need to get in touch with Richmond council to make sure that you are either a) bang in the catchment for Waldegrave, which allocatse places purely on distance (and then obviously live close to a good primary in that catchment), or b) at one of Teddington's link primary schools (most of which are excellent).

Then if your children turn out to be amazingly brainy, there's nothing to stop you from doing a bit of tutoring and having a go at getting into the girls' or boys' grammars (Tiffin), but you've got an excellent fallback in either Teddington or Waldegrave.

By the way, can't remember who said it but Kingston Grammar (private) isn't for boys only, it's mixed - used to be boys only about 10 years ago.

BayJay Sat 30-Apr-11 18:45:41

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

HannahForever Fri 10-Jun-11 13:28:45


BeattieBow Fri 10-Jun-11 13:38:18

thread is a few years old. Would be interested to know what OP did though - we are moving back to London this month - to Camden as suggested in this thread!

WentworthMillerMad Mon 13-Jun-11 18:36:14

agree with all the good things said about Camden girls. I was an inner London teacher for years. Fab place to live as well!

cheekyjackrussell Wed 15-Feb-12 13:34:43

it's funny we are in the same boat. We're thinking of leaving streatham to get our girls into good secondary schools when the time comes, they are only 3 and 1 at the moment but we don't know where to go! we're in the catchment area for Dunraven but i wouldn't send my dog there

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