School places in London: as catchment areas continue to shrink, affordable homes and new schools widen the choice

As the scramble for school places gets worse and catchment areas shrink, we track down new homes near new schools that widen families’ choices.

Moving out of London to secure a good school place for your child is common — but there are pockets of the capital where affordable homes and exciting new schools make it easier to stay put.

Parents have just heard which secondary school places their children have been awarded, with more youngsters than ever facing the disappointment of not getting their first choice.

Last year about half of UK schools received more applications than they had places, with two thirds of London schools oversubscribed. In Greenwich, Lewisham and Kensington & Chelsea, 80 per cent of schools couldn’t meet demand, while the capital’s booming population means thousands more will miss out when primary places are announced next month.

However, simply paying a premium to buy a house near a favourite school will not be enough to guarantee your child entry. “It’s the information estate agents don’t want you to see,” says parent Ed Rushton.

He created the FindASchool website, part of leading online directory 192.com, to combat what he calls “misleading and inaccurate” information. Rushton’s website allows searches by postcode and area and gives a school’s current performance and exact catchment area.

“People are still buying based on information which can be more than 10 years old,” claims Rushton, who moved from Vauxhall to Wimbledon to secure places for his own children at a high-performing school. Visit www.192.com.

 

First-choice schools: do you live near enough? 

Even living a few minutes’ walk from a school can be too far. Last year Fox Primary in Notting Hill refused places to anyone living more than 92 metres away and more than 100 primaries reported catchment areas of less than 300 metres.

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Walk to school: families and teachers are moving to Wembley Park to be near the Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill

 

Research by Savills shows that in England 84.2 per cent of school applicants get their first choice, falling to 68.9 per cent on average in London and as low as 55.3 per cent in Hammersmith & Fulham. Barnet has the most places in high-performing state secondary schools, followed by Bromley and Hounslow.

The study revealed houses near good state schools command a premium of 19 per cent on average — but there are hotspots that offer strongly performing schools and more affordable homes.

“Bexley stands out,” says Savills’ Lucian Cook. The average house price in the borough is under £300,000, while its seven high-performing state schools compare favourably with boroughs such as Hammersmith & Fulham, where good school options are fewer and average property prices are £1 million-plus.

 

New schools in East Dulwich, West Ealing and Kent

In September, a new free secondary run by the Charter School Trust opens in East Dulwich, SE22, where Harris Primary moves into a new permanent site in Lordship Lane. The last three-bedroom house remains for sale nearby at Foster Lomas-designed Hindmans Yard, for £950,000. Call Property In on 020 8693 8000.

A primary school now being built at Jigsaw new homes complex in West Ealing will have 630 places plus 100 nursery places. Prices start from £550,000 for a two-bedroom apartment. Call 020 8003 0701.

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From £550,000: two-bedroom flats at Jigsaw in West Ealing. The scheme includes a new primary school and 100 nursery places


Out of town in Sevenoaks, Kent, the first “new” grammar school for 50 years, a girls’ annexe of Weald of Kent Grammar School, opens in September next year. Apartments at nearby Prime Place start from £279,995. Call Hamptons International on 01732 280801.

New homes near schools in Battersea

A new building for St Mary’s RC Primary School, bringing two-form entry and a new early years centre, is a selling point for families at Battersea Exchange. Prices from £790,000. Call Taylor Wimpey on 020 7355 8150.

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From £790,000: a new building for St Mary’s RC Primary School is a selling point for families at Battersea Exchange. Call Taylor Wimpey on 020 7355 8150


A primary school opening in 2019 at the new Keybridge neighbourhood in Vauxhall will offer 500 places. Homes from £675,000. Call Knight Frank on 020 7861 1705.

St William, a National Grid/Berkeley Group venture, recently gained permission for a mixed-use development, 101 Prince of Wales Drive in Battersea, with 839 homes between Battersea Park and Battersea Power Station. Launching next month, the development includes a nursery and possibly a new campus for 300 students. Call 020 3053 6901 to register interest.

 

Wembley Park: walking distance from the Lycée 

Sales director Alexis Bailly bought a three-bedroom apartment at Emerald Gardens, in Wembley Park, so that his two children can attend the Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill, which opened nearby last September.

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Wembley Park is a winner: Alexis Bailly bought at Emerald Gardens so his children can attend the French school

 

“It is important they speak French and English so the school is the perfect choice for us,” says Bailly, who is originally from Luxembourg.

Developer Quintain says the seven-minute walk to the school is attracting families and teachers. One- and two-bedroom flats range from £398,000 to £830,000. At nearby scheme Alto, Pienna Apartments start from £415,000. Call 020 3151 8601.

 

Sydenham over the sticks: one family now have a better choice of schools

Instead of upsizing to a home in the sticks, a growing number of families are buying London flats near the school of their choice, says Becky Munday of Munday’s Estate Agents, which sold a “tired Sixties flat” near good schools in Sydenham, SE26, to Francesca Reville and Stephen Elsworth.

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Staying in Sydenham: Francesca Reville and Stephen Elsworth with their son Jack


Transforming the apartment into a smart family home for themselves and their son Jack meant the couple didn’t have to leave the capital.

“Our flat is ideal. We can spend more time with Jack rather than commuting,” says Francesca. “We’re happy for him to attend either of the two schools in our catchment area.”


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