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.
Agree with angeleyes. Croydon has some fab areas. Check out west Wickham, Woodford or Coumadin op. Good schools and a very fast commute to London bridge too.
BreadandButter The Butts estate and those areas by the river in Brentford are quite lovely and the stretch of Acton towards Ealing Common, Poets Corner and quite large stretches of West Acton are none too shabby.
I have taught in comprehensives in north Hillingdon and also in Harrow - several excellent state comps in these areas; the schools I taught in both had Latin for example if you are looking for a traditional education and over 70% of pupils got 5 A*-C (80% in one of them), both sent pupils to Oxbridge pretty much every year, etc. But also great arts, media, drama, sport and music depts as they are big enough schools to cater for a wide range of interests and extra-curricular activities as well as running a wide range of academic options. I definitely want to send my DC to schools like these, and NW London seems to have a fair number of them.
Interested to read the comments from posters concerned about 'Essex accents'. Essex has some of the best performing state schools in the country.
For the OP, you might consider a move to NE London/ Borough of Redbridge - one of the three highest performing school boroughs in London, central line underground access to Chancery Lane/ the City, similar housing to West London minus the inflated prices, excellent grammer schools (though admittedly extremely competitive entry), low crime and pleasant green spaces.
If the office is in Chancery Lane most commutes will be out of Liverpool Street into places like Essex - don't be put off by media "images" of "Essex girls" and "Essex lads" - depending on where you choose, Essex has some of the most elegant countryside and pleasant suburbs, as well as well rated schools eg Chelmsford and Colchester (secondary schools, ie high schools). There's no different in the accent between London and other Home Counties - it really depends on what kind of school and area you live in. I haven't calculated the commute from the areas, it obviously depends on how far the office is from Liverpool Street (might sometimes be faster to walk from the train station rather than going to Chancery Lane tube, speaking as a former resident of the area.) http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ will give you train times and http://journeyplanner.tfl.gov.uk/user/XSLT_TRIP_REQUEST2?language=en will give you some idea of tube routes and times. I would not even contemplate using Waterloo, Paddington or Victoria for Chancery Lane (you'll spend half the morning getting across central London, so to speak) but London Bridge is plausible if you are not happy with Essex or other routes out of Liverpool St. So I would forget Harrow, Acton, Brentford, Berkshire, Oxford, Hillingdon, Buckinghamshire, Middlesex. You're essentially looking at the eastern suburbs and home counties, because of where Chancery Lane is. Also Liverpool St is a very easy station to get in and out of with lots of frequent trains- London Bridge is huge to get across. But check the route planners. London Bridge serves East Surrey, Sussex and Kent which themselves have lovely schools and places to live. Charing Cross is a too far IMHO to get across to Chancery Lane. Cannon Street is good but not many lines, and also consider whether you might need to go into work off peak or at weekends, when Cannon Street has limited or no service (depending on when that is).
If you have a very lively dog who wants space (not to mention your children and yourselves), then the best option is a house in the home counties commuting into a station near work but avoiding the tube, rather than a small house or a flat in a London postcode. Parking in the home counties is often so much easier (and cheaper!!) - London virtually has no free parking left (in practical terms - I don't mean at 2am on a weeknight!), and in London suburbs, parking a car can be a nightmare when you get home sometimes. A short distance on the tube (=London subway) also works out more pricey than a medium distance on the train in terms of the cost of your husband's daily commute. Timewise the train is often faster than the tube because the tube stops at so many stations.
Should also mention that Chancery Lane tube is invariably like a can of sardines at rush hour every weekday.... although it is nice when it's off peak!
OP - I can't remember if you said there were two different offices for both of you or whether it was both of you working at Chancery Lane. Also misread the bit where you said you'd be working in the UK too, so apologies for that. But yes, where the offices are will dictate where you are going. Like Manhattan (but worse) central London is difficult to travel across at rush hour - or any time really, apart from maybe 4am.... so don't pick a pretty suburb that is on the opposite side of the city from your work places.
Found your two posts now! - Barbican for your DH, Chancery Lane for you, apologies for earlier inaccuracy. Yes, stick to Liverpool Street. Maybe London Bridge as a very distant second choice (because you'll need the tube - at least some of the time - to get from London Bridge to the city eg when it's heavy rain). I knew someone who used to walk from Ldn Br (across the bridge) to his office near Barbican (Moorgate) - it's a scenic walk and good exercise) but he left home at 6am to be able to get to work on time, and likewise in the evening. He was tired out when he got home - it's a major lifestyle change, and one that both parents are unlikely to be able to do with schoolgoing kids. Avoid the premature heart attack and go for Liverpool Street and Essex, honestly, that's my recommendation. Several of Essex's schools top the league tables every year for state and grammar school exam results. As someone in the south, am actually a little envious, lol!
Trains from parts of Hertfordshire also come into Liverpool Street, as mentioned above.
@kipper Charing Cross would be ideal for Chancery Lane! 10-15 minute walk and no need for the tube! Similarly with Waterloo (add 5 mins to the walk, but in return you get to see the lovely south bank each day). Sadly of course Charing Cross is a rubbish station for other reasons! Most of my friends and colleagues who work in the immediate area live in either the Surrey/Kent borders, the posh bits of Croydon, or The Harpendon/St Albans area. Or Devon. But those of us who come in from Devon don't do so every day! Thankfully.
@kipper I work a stones throw from the Barbican. The most popular commute by far is from Farringdon out to Harpenden, St Albans, that direction. I say popular, I mean common. The service isn't very popular with anyone who uses it! I don't know anyone who commutes through Liverpool Street although I expect there are some. But best to avoid the tubes. Farringdon is <5mins walk to either barbican or chancery lane. And of course, there is city thameslink also so one person could get off at Farringdon and one could get off at city......either commuting from the St Albans or the Croydon area. Or points in between.
My memories of using the thameslink service aren't entirely happy I will admit, and my sister who still uses it (from croydon) is a bit ruder about it than my close colleagues who use it from st Albans/Harpenden but none of them seem that distressed really.
Telegraph Hill, zone 2 ie central london(New Cross/New Cross Gate, tube and train). Good large homes,great park and good primaries. Also you have an outstanding secondary on your doorstep, Haberdasher's Askes', Hatcham College. It selects its pupils on distance, their website is HAHC.org.uk
Good point Metabilis3 about Farringdon's Thameslink - very near to both. But as you say, it often had problems (maybe because a lot of lines cut through) so I didn't recommend that. Especially when you have to plan for school going kids' schedules too. A lot of City workers came from Essex and its surrounds into Liverpool St - it was a human tide, lol. So many fast and efficient services so it worked very well, ideal for working parents - if your child is feeling wobbly and you need to stay an extra two minutes, you won't have to wait 20 minutes for the next service, more like 3 minutes.
It certainly is less good coming from the south (from Croydon/Brighton) if you are going into Farringdon.
I didn't use Charing Cross as often, but because it is more south than Liv St and Farringdon and further than London Bridge, I am more hesitant about recommending it. A walk from Charing Cross every day - even in storms, wind and hail - to Barbican (admittedly slightly nearer to Chancery Lane) .....hmm.....only for the very robust among us and those with a convenient place to change into and store a work suit I reckon . Actually there is a bus route that could go from CC to B and CL, but heh heh, the traffic doesn't go v fast in rush hour, unfortunately.
@funchum8am which primary state schools in harrow area would you say are the best??
I personally suggest Keston, Kent. 6 mins away from Bromley South. with amazing massive woods and lakes. Just like contryside village nexf to town we have a big Wiemeraner which we take for walks in the woods. It has a lovely Keston CE Primary School and Hayes Local Comprehensive Secondry also Darrick wood. Round the corner is Bromley High (girls privarate) and Ravens Wood (boys comprehensive) then Newstead woods (girls grammar) St Olaves (boys grammar) great little plot.
Re: accents - Xenia did you realise teachers at Habs have cockney accents? Fine by me - but do watch videos on their website (Junior school) for proof - definitely not all RP.
Richmond usually heads the league table for primary schools, and has some good secondary schools. In fact you'd probably be best off in Twickenham to maximise dd's chances of getting into Waldegrave, the best girls' school around. There are fast trains into Waterloo, or the district line direct to Temple which is reasonably close to Chancery Lane.
JellyBelly10 Bromley is not "actually in Kent", you said it is in Greater London, London and Greater London cover the exact same region, it is just the name "Greater London" is used in certain contexts. If you are saying it is in Greater London, then it cannot be in Kent, because they share a border according to the London Government Act 1963. It is binary, if it is in one it cannot be in the other and vice versa.
Richmond Borough primaries are great. I think they have some of the highest stats in the country, too, if that matters to you.
Secondaries I don't really know about yet...
What about Brookman's Park? It is really quite rural and English. You can drive to Potters Bar (10 mins) change at Finsbury Park and take the tube to Chancery Lane (15 mins.) The primary school is good and the secondary options are Dame Alice Owen (partially selective and excellent) or Chancellors (good too, I hear). Beautiful woods full of bluebells for the dog too.
Sorry train Potters Bar to Finsbury Park is 10 mins.
Epsom. Can commute to London Bridge, waterloo and Victoria. Downs and Common plus parks for dog. Glyn School for boys and Rosebery for girls. Both non-selective state schools with good results.
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