Looking for London suburbs with good state schools(124 Posts)
My husband and I are considering a move to London from the US with my company from the states. We would both be working in central London but want to find a commutable suburb with good state schools for our children ages 10 (boy) and 8 (girl). The company will not pay for schools so the American schools are out of the question. Our kids go to amazing state schools here in the US and private schools combined with the cost of living in London is out of the question. We also have a big rambunctous dog that makes the thought of living in a tiny flat unbearable! any ideas on lovely suburbs that are within 40 minutes of London with great non fee paying schools? It seems from reading threads on Mumsnet that most people do private/independent schools beyond primary no matter where they are living - that is unless their children are bright enough to get in to selective grammar schools.
Bromley! Bromley is part of Greater LOndon (but actually in Kent) however when I used to live there I worked in the City and could be at work in 30 minutes, door to door! The travel from both Bromley South and Bromley North stations is extremely good, quick and reliable. Because it's actually part of Kent you are a short drive from countryside whilst being so close to LOndon. Bromley has some excellent schools, and house prices are reasonable. I loved living in Bromley and feel quite nostalgic about it! LIve in Berkshire now, but would go back to Bromley in an instant if I could.
Most people do not use independent/private schools! It's just that those that do post a lot about it!
Whereabouts in London will you be working? Which tube line(s) will be most convenient for you? That makes a big difference in terms of which suburbs are going to be easiest to recommend
If you can cope with 1 hour commute, I would look at towns like Guildford or St Albans, some real countryside might suit your dog.
I would try Harpenden or St Albans. Both have very good state schools and fast trains into the city.
Depends where in Central London you'd be working.
I would look at the rail map and work backwards from the London station that you need.
Dulwich. Is lovely and green, but only 30 mins from central London.
I have some friends who moved there from NY and they love it.
Ealing/Hanwell/ 9 minutes into paddington Northfields on piccadilly line
Buckinghamshire? The primary schools in the Chalfonts are supposed to be ace and are on the tube.
I second Bromley, for the same reasons as JellyBelly!
If you move to Dulwich make sure you are in the miniscule catchment area of The Charter School. Otherwise the state school options in this area are poor.
Charter not that great, ime. but a lot better than the other options, I grant you.
Yes, if you have a choice then I wouldn't move to Dulwich at all for the state schools.
strongly recommend that you follow the advice to identify your transport routes first. For example trains from Bromley run into Victoria so that would not be so good if your workplace was near, say, Paddington Station. If you were near Euston then Watford would be an option, and so forth.
thank you so much for the comments! The office is in the chancery lane area so I need to figure out transport. I did look at Guildford but heard the waterloo line can be unreliable. amersham, little chalfont and Beaconsfield were also recommended. I will look at some of the suggestions here as well. I am most concerned about the grammar school entrance. my son is 10 and doing very well in school here in the US. I just hear stories of exams to get in the good grammar schools. Thanks again fellow mums for all the helpful comments. Relocation is daunting. We have done it before but when the kids were young so schools were not an issue.
Well if you want some stats, only 7% of UK children go to independent schools (it's a bit higher for 6th form but not much), and very very few counties have grammar schools. The vast, vast majority of counties only have comprehensive state schools (which include church schools and academies), some of which are outstanding, some good, some OK and some rubbish.
Forget worrying about grammar schools unless you are considering moving to Kent (or Northern Ireland ) as in most other places there won't be any.
If you're going to be in the Chancery Lane area, you COULD consider Cambridge. The train ride is 45 mins to King's Cross, and then another 10 mins or so on the tube to Holborn. And pretty much all the state schools in Cambridge are good schools.
I work in Chancery Lane and commute in from Blackheath, which has some good schools. It also has a village-y feel, with a huge Heath (common) in the middle that my dog loves. It's about 20 mins into Charing Cross, and from there, 10 mins to Chancery Lane area.
You could also consider Greenwich, Brockley and Hither Green areas.
How about great missenden or prestwood? Looks lovely and not to far from amersham and transport. Husband's work is at barbican station.
Barbican is even closer to King's Cross than Chancery Lane. You seriously need to be considering places with trains/tube that come into King's Cross, Euston, St Pancras (or possibly Liverpool Street).
What about Barnet or Finchley? easy to get into Kings Cross and the schools are good.
Kent (including London Boroughs of Bromley and Bexley) and Buckinghamshire have grammar schools.
If your son is 10, when do you arrive? And when is his birthday?
The 11 plus exams for grammar school entry are usually held the 2nd week in September for entrance to the schools the following September. You will find details of the exams on the local authority websites (Kent County Council, Medway Borough Council, London Boro of Bexley & London Boro of Bromley).
I only tell you this because you may well research the 'great' grammar schools in say Kent, Bexley or Bromley and then discover you are simply too late to gain entry anyway.
Chancery Lane is walk able by the way from Charing Cross Station or Cannon Street station in 20 mins. And would save you near on £1000 a year on underground fares. If you get a mainline train into London this is one price and if you then travel further in London using the buses and tubes, this is another price on top. (all on one ticket though)
For Charing Cross & Cannon Street, you are looking at SE London (also recommend Blackheath) London Boro Bexley, parts of London Borough Bromley (Bromley North Station goes here, South doesn't) and vast swathes of Kent.
You can also travel into London Bridge station from most of Sussex and Surrey and then change onto a train into Charing Cross/Cannon Street.
You need to think long and hard about your commute, how long, how much you think it is fair to spend and how quickly you can get home to collect the kids!
I work in Chancery Lane, and IMO the best lines to come in on for both Chancery Lane and Barbican are the First Capital Connect lines (for convenience, although FCC do not have the best reputation! But I survive with them ok).
Here is a route map
Chancery Lane and Barbican are both a short walk from Farringdon or City Thameslink on the Thameslink line, or alternatively (as DonInKillerHeels says) also easy to access from King's Cross / St Pancras / Moorgate.
Here is a good website which shows you information about commuter towns coming into the main stations - www.commutefrom.com/
Personally, what I like about my journey is not needing to use the underground - walking or taking the bus is usually possible in most cases. The only stations I would say are not so good for accessing Chancery Lane / Barbican area are Paddington and Marylebone.
Sorry, got carried away with my geeky transport knowledge Sorry not to have anything helpful to add on schools, but I know lots of MNers have good advice on that front
And being devils advocate, the closer to London you are, the more stressful it is to get school places. So all London boroughs have a squeeze on good primary schools (mostly they are full up). Turnover is however high.
Further out in the surrounding counties, less dense population more likely to have a place at the nearest and hopefully good school!
The Waterloo line was fine for all the 13 years my DH worked in London. For Chancery Lane you could also look out towards Essex.
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