Primary school places in London:seven top-rated - but undersubscribed - schools and the homes to buy or rent in their catchment areas

Two thirds of primary schools are oversubscribed for the next academic year, so now is the time for parents to devise a property plan of action.

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With two thirds of London schools oversubscribed for the next academic year, no wonder the annual scramble to secure places at the best ones produces unseemly behaviour among some parents.

Spontaneous conversions to Christianity are not uncommon, while a spate of downsizing to a one-bedroom flat for a family of four — that flat being close to a prized school — seems odd until you understand the rules of the game.

In April, 3,500 London children were left either without a confirmed place for the autumn or were offered a school that wasn’t in their parents’ top six. Some schools are so popular, living just a few minutes’ walk away can be too far.

More than 100 primaries in London operate a catchment area of less than 300 metres. Fox Primary School in Notting Hill, rated “outstanding” by Ofsted, recently turned down pupils living more than 92 metres from its gates.



In some densely populated districts, flats on lower floors of tower blocks are considered closer to sought-after schools than those on upper floors. And because of differing admission rules, simply living within a catchment area still may not be enough to land a place.

Ed Rushton, who moved house across London to find places for his own children at a high-performing school in Wimbledon, has created the FindASchool website, part of leading online directory, to provide accurate, current data about schools including exam results, class sizes, Ofsted ratings and admission criteria.

It is also the first service to display “Successful Applicant Areas” — the area where you needed to live last year to get a place at the school of your choice this year.

The website and school checker tool is also plugged into Rightmove listings. House hunters can check potential properties against a school’s likely catchment area and most recent performance rating.

Despite the panic each year, many highly regarded schools remain undersubscribed for several reasons, says Dominic Blackburn, product director at “Take Grange Primary in Harrow. In the last few years it has gone from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘good’. Now undersubscribed, as it improves it is more likely to become oversubscribed.

“Another factor is that in some areas parents may decide to send their children to private schools. This has the knock-on effect of reducing the strain on local schools. But overall only a very small number of good schools are undersubscribed.”

Applications for next year’s reception places open in September, so parents should prepare a plan of action now. The smart strategy is to buy your new home or move to your next rental property, within the catchment areas of top-rated primary schools that are still undersubscribed.

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