This is the second in our five-part series looking at where to live near the most ‘outstanding’ schools. In the next installments we look at the best places to live near top nurseries and private schools.
It's a national occupation: if you have young children, chances are you will be poring over the Ofsted results of local schools. With competition for places hotting up, homes within the catchment area of multiple top schools are highly prized.
So how can parents maximise their chances of securing a place for their child in a top secondary school?
In this second installment of our five-part series on where to live near ‘outstanding’ schools, Telegraph Property has hunted down the best areas in England near the most ‘outstanding’ secondary schools, where homes are affordable, property prices are on the up, and the jobs market is booming.
We’ve identified the top spot in each of the nine English regions except the North East, where there were no areas that met all of the criteria.
You can find these in full within the article.
Best of all: Slough, Berkshire
Average house price (according to the Office for National Statistics): £325,000
Average monthly rent for a three-bedroom home (according to Savills): £1,493
The areas of Baylis & Stoke and Cippenham Meadows in Slough are fertile hunting grounds for families looking for well-priced homes and great schools. There are two Ofsted-rated "outstanding" secondary schools to choose from in each place, and house prices are less than seven times local incomes (across Britain the average is closer to eight times income). Combine that with Crossrail, and it's easy to see why this pocket of Berkshire is so popular with young buyers.
Those living in these leafy suburbs have village greens, sports centres and sprawling family parks right on their doorstep. The average home in Cippenham Meadows costs £325,000, while in Baylis & Stoke it is just under £300,000. House prices in both areas have risen by almost 50 per cent since 2014.
East of England
Best of all: Bishop's Stortford, east Hertfordshire
Average house price: £395,000
Average monthly rent for a three-bedroom home: £1,561
Bishop's Stortford is quickly becoming a hotspot for young families, thanks to low unemployment and high levels of household income (at almost £60,000 on average). It's also very commutable, with a handy train link direct to London Liverpool Street.
"It's the best of both worlds," explains Paddy Pritchard-Gordon of Knight Frank. "You can have a pub lunch surrounded by stunning scenery, yet be in central London in less than 40 minutes."
People ditching the city for the family-friendly hotspot of Bishop's Stortford can choose from a number of excellent state secondary schools, including Hockerill Anglo-European College and the Herts & Essex High School and Science College.
At just under £400,000, average property prices in Bishop's Stortford are much lower than in nearby St Albans, another bright spot for top schools in the East. Here houses cost over £600,000 on average.
Best of all: Wealdstone North, Harrow
Average house price: £424,000
Average monthly rent for a three-bedroom home: £1,800
This corner in the north west of the capital is fast becoming one of the last affordable places to buy in the capital. . Growing interest in Harrow is reflected in the very strong house price growth it has recorded over the past five years, at almost 70 per cent.
Research by PropCast, a data tool which analyses levels of buyer interest in different parts of the country, found that demand is particularly high for homes in Wealdstone, especially compared to other postcodes in the same area.
If you get in quick, you can still bag a home for less than £450,000. The borough of Harrow has one of the highest supplies of Help to Buy homes in London, giving first-time buyers a helpful boost.
Those moving to Wealdstone North will have two Ofsted-rated "outstanding" institutions (Sacred Heart Language College and Whitefriars School) within walking distance.
Best of all: Torbay, Devon
Average house price: £200,000
Average monthly rent for a three-bedroom home: £890
The ward of Chelston & Cockington is the best place to look for a well-priced home near top schools in this picturesque town on England’s self-proclaimed Riviera.
Not only does the ward have lower crime rates and a younger population than the rest of Torbay, it also has two of the best schools in the area: the Torquay Girls’ and Boys’ Grammar Schools.
Buying a home here costs less than in other parts of town, at just £200,000 on average, which is less than six times average household incomes in the area.
Popular streets with families include St Matthew’s Road, where grand Tudor-fronted homes run alongside a long stretch of green.
Best of all: Grantham, Lincolnshire
Average house price: £143,000
Average monthly rent for a three-bedroom home: £694
While property prices across Grantham stand at around £200,000, in the north-eastern pocket of the town by the Queen Elizabeth Park the average home costs less than £150,000. For that money families can get a home close to the out-performing Priory Ruskin Academy and King's School.
However, expect to pay more for the sought-after homes with large driveways and bay windows on Manthorpe Road, just a two minute walk from Priory Ruskin. A four-bedroom detached property on this street will sell for over £400,000. Household incomes in the area are above average, at a little over £35,000.
Best of all: Bromsgrove, Worcestershire
Average house price: £280,000
Average monthly rent for a three-bedroom home: £893
With property valued at around six times local salaries, Bromsgrove is one of the most affordable places on our list. Regular markets, popular pubs and a buzzing arts centre keep the town feeling busy. But head just a few miles out and you'll find yourself amid the undulating peace of the Clent Hills, a National Trust site.
"Worcestershire has something for everyone, especially families," says Jessica Shepherd of Connells. "There are great leisure options, fantastic travel connections, and attractions such as the cathedral."
Bromsgrove is around 30 minutes by train from Birmingham and 19 from Worcester, which makes it handy for commuters.
“The popularity of the area with families has meant that average house prices have steadily increased over the last few years," adds Shepherd. "The most sought-after are three-bedroom semis with a garden, which will set you back from around £220,000 to £260,000."
For sprawling red-brick piles with four or more bedrooms look to Marlborough Avenue, while Stoke Road is better for slightly smaller, cosier family homes. Both are just a short walk from the train station.
Best of all: Bebington, Wirral
Average house price: £205,000
Average monthly rent for a three-bedroom home: £820
Just across the river Mersey from buzzing Liverpool, Bebington is well-located for commuters looking to get involved in the city's nascent tech sector and flourishing jobs market, and is handy for commuting into Cheshire too.
Unemployment on this stretch of the Wirral peninsula is low and household incomes are generally over £40,000.
Families living near here are within the catchment area of the Wirral Grammar School, which has a branch for both boys and girls and was the alma mater of former prime minister Harold Wilson.
"The area has some fantastic green spaces, from the historic Birkenhead Park to hidden gems like Mayer Park in Bebington," says Nick Withinshaw of Jackson-Stops. "And those with a love of the sea can be by the coast within just a few minutes."
It's also one of the best spots in the country for getting on to the property ladder; houses in Bebington cost just five times local salaries. However, Withinshaw adds, homes within catchment areas of top schools are highly sought after and when one does come onto the market, it is quickly snapped up.
Yorkshire and the Humber
Best of all: Ripon, North Yorkshire
Average house price: £240,000
Average monthly rent for a three-bedroom home: £871
This miniature cathedral city is famous for its historic architecture, great schooling and the Hornblower who, every night without fail, sounds a horn in the central market square at 9pm. Locals also benefit from having the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty just a short drive away.
In the north west of the town, where there are two ‘outstanding’ schools, the average home costs just £240,000 – less than in most parts of Ripon. Unemployment is low and household incomes are high for the region (£46,400), making buying a home very affordable. The quiet, tree lined streets around Lark Hill, running alongside both schools, draw plenty of buyers.
Other sweet spots for good homes and schools in the borough of Harrogate include Hookstone and Harrogate West.
This is a five-part series from Telegraph Property on where to live near the most 'outstanding' schools. It will be published every Tuesday morning for five weeks. Come back next Tuesday to find out the best places to live near top-drawer nursery schools.