Where to Live to be Near the UK's Best State Schools

By: Ann Dinsdale, GMS,


*This article is the fifth part of an 8 part series on the UK schooling system.  See the foot of this article for links to the other 7 parts.*

Next up in our UK Schooling series is where you should look to rent a home to be near the UK’s top state schools. 

There has been a mass exodus of emigres (most aged 29-39 with younger children) leaving London for the countryside and great state schools.  If you don’t want to pay independent school fees, many are seeking out top state grammars, academies and comprehensives outside of London instead.

It’s not necessarily a total cost saving – there is a house price premium on average of 20% near the top comprehensives – but most say that it’s worth it.


Buckinghamshire is a selective authority, which means about one in five of the local children is selected by ability. That’s fine if you are confident that your child will pass the entrance tests, but an area such as Newbury in West Berkshire may be a safer bet.

There, children have a chance of getting into the Reading grammars, such as Kendrick and Reading Schools, while others are likely to do well at some excellent comprehensives.

Look for homes in outlying villages such as Bucklebury (where the Duchess of Cambridge grew up).

Further south, in Winchester, King’s is the best-regarded comprehensive – deemed “outstanding” by Ofsted – and St Cross, is one of the more sought-after areas.  Steeped in history, an hour from the coast and 40minutes from the New Forest, Winchester has plenty to offer outside school hours, too.


At Balcarras, a comprehensive in the Charlton Kings area, exam results are excellent, and it offers every sport from rugby (four pitches) to cycling on its own speedway track.

In Bath, schools Beechen Cliff and Hayesfield hold sway. Houses in nearby Poet’s Corner, a favourite with artsy and media types.

The property market in Gillingham, Dorset, a comparatively nondescript town, has been boosted by improved standards at the local comprehensive, Gillingham School.

Being on the main line to London is another factor and nearby Shaftesbury is great for this.

For those wanting to move to the surfing beaches of Cornwall, Penrice Academy in St Austell is “outstanding”.


In Canterbury, a well-known area for solid state schools, to get into the grammar schools children must pass the entrance tests and live in the catchment area.

Ekco Park is just a 10-minute drive from Southend High School for girls.  The town is also gaining a reputation as a realistic commute for those priced out of London. 

Perhaps the most vaunted academy in the east is Comberton Village College, six miles west of Cambridge. Houses in nearby Bourn and Barton are much sought-after as a result.


Emmanuel College in Gateshead has received glowing reports from Ofsted – “all students make exceptional progress”.

If you prefer wide-open spaces, Ryedale School near the North York Moors is very successful.  You’ll want to look in the nearby market town of Helmsley.

To the south side of York, Fulford School attracts many parents.

The leafy suburbs of south Manchester, parts of which have a St John’s Wood vibe, are served by the grammar schools of Altrincham Girls’ and Altrincham Boys’ School – both are lauded by Ofsted.

It’s always important to plan your move overseas carefully, especially if you have children.  There are many things you need to cover at both ends of the move.  People moving abroad make big mistakes by failing to get good, independent advice and support.

As international relocation specialists, the experts at Saunders 1865 – The VIP Relocation Company – can help you avoid making the common mistakes and we can make sure you accomplish everything that needs to be done around:

  • Helping parents navigate the complex education systems
  • Relieving parents’ worries about finding the right schools & securing places
  • Providing a quick & efficient service that saves time & provides independent, objective advice

Why not arrange a free consultation with one of our relocation experts today?  Just message us using this Contact Form