The new homes that could guarantee your child a place in your top-choice school

Competition is fierce for the best school places - so moving to a development with a new school on site could be the answer.
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Green light: Taylor Wimpey is building 290 homes at Nine Elms, Battersea, and a new school building for St Mary’s Catholic Primary

The highest birth rates since the post-war baby boom have put a squeeze on school places, especially in London with its rising population. This year, one in six primary school children failed to get into their top-choice school, but new housing schemes with new schools attached should help ease the shortage.
King’s Cross Academy is the new primary school at the heart of one of London’s most exciting regeneration projects. Neatly tucked beneath the 14-storey Plimsoll Building that will house 255 new apartments, the purpose-built academy is now accepting applications for two reception classes and a 26-place nursery opening in September. Some 420 places will be available at the school, which will share space with Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children, and sign language will be on the curriculum for everyone.

Families from neighbouring Islington are now considering King’s Cross, says developer Argent. They are attracted by the school and child-friendly features such as the fountains in Granary Square and the new urban Gasholder Park, set within the iconic iron structures, which opens later this year.
Headteacher of the academy, Emyr Fairburn, estimates that 25 per cent of pupils come from new apartments. “Many are from homes with no outdoor space,” says Fairburn, who is keen for pupils to enjoy the new nature reserve and partnerships he is forging with nearby businesses such as Google, Waitrose Cookery School and Eurostar.
“The children can see the station through our huge windows,” he says. “Train drivers will be coming in for talks and pupils will be able to visit Paris, as we’ve adopted French as a main language.”

Boosting choice
The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea is the UK’s worst area for gaining school places. Only 61 per cent of children there reached their top-choice school, but 210 new primary and 26 nursery places will be available from September next year when a reception class opens at the new £16 million Kensington Primary Academy. In partnership with the council, St Edward is building the school at its 375 Kensington High Street development, where homes start at £925,000.
New early years centre
Wandsworth’s schools are so oversubscribed that from September next year, the borough council intends scrapping sibling priority. Taylor Wimpey recently won permission for a new Battersea development in the Nine Elms regeneration area. Alongside 290 private and affordable homes, there will be a new building for St Mary’s Catholic Primary School — the Evening Standard’s flagship school for the Get London Reading campaign — that includes a new early years centre.
‘Nursery is just over the fence from us’: Mum Katrina Borrowdale, 28, has bought a property at Berkeley Homes’ Holborough Lakes scheme in North Kent with husband Gary, 29, a professional footballer with Greenwich Borough. Three-bedroom houses start from £310,000 and, from September, children can attend the scheme’s Valley Invicta Primary School
Tackling the shortage
The Government estimates that 200,000 more primary school places are needed by 2020 and their locations may entice families to buy in areas they had previously overlooked.
Dalston — recently voted “coolest place to live” — looks set to attract more families as Telford Homes has partnered with the Holy Trinity Primary School at its Vibe housing scheme to produce a two-tier primary school opening next year. At Berkeley Homes’ Kidbrooke Village in Greenwich, a £1 billion regeneration project is transforming the Ferrier Estate into a new neighbourhood, where Wingfield Primary School is opening seven years earlier than planned.
Barratt Homes recently obtained outline planning permission for a development at Kingsbrook, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, where a community of 2,450 new homes includes two primary schools and, potentially, a secondary school that could open by 2019.
“The new schools and facilities will make Kingsbrook a desirable location for families,” says Barratt’s project director Darren Farmer.
Happy days: renovations at All Saints School in Dagenham meet pupils’ approval
A £7.1 million renovation programme is being unveiled tomorrow at All Saints School in Dagenham, a borough that has a shortage of places. The Catholic school for 11- to 18-year-olds can accommodate 300 extra students by 2020 in its new three-floor building, which features four new science labs and a food technology classroom.
Year 11 student Holly Boyes says her school is now a happier place. “Being in a better, brighter environment helps your learning,” she says.
Headteacher Kevin Wilson believes the new building has transformed the school. “There’s a really positive feeling among staff and students,” he adds.
Planning ahead
Developments with schools on site are proving a major draw for young families. Planning ahead for their six-month-old daughter inspired Mabs Alam, 38, and Shamsun Nahar, 35, to buy a three-bedroom terrace house at Arboretum in Epping, Essex.
Secure neighbourhood: Mabs Alam and Shamsun Nahar with their baby daughter

Higgins Homes has rebuilt St John’s CofE School at the scheme where the final phase of houses are priced from £650,000.

“We knew we’d found the perfect place,” says solicitor Shamsun. “We’re hopeful our daughter will benefit from living in a secure neighbourhood.” 

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