Ruth Bloomfield continues her series finding homes families can afford near schools well-rated by Ofsted — this week, also with a do-able commute.
A record 33,000 children in the capital did not get a place at their first choice of school this year. Commuting broadens the choice — but which county should London parents move to, in order to find a family home at the right price near the best school? A fresh batch of first-year students will be packing up their kit and heading off to university in the next few weeks, with A-levels done and dusted. But for parents who are still in the foothills of the senior school experience, finding their kids a place at a good
school can be a daunting prospect. Confronted by concerns about school standards in parts of the capital, many families simply take an exit strategy, heading out to commuter towns where the schools are great and house prices are far more realistic.
BUDGET: UP TO £500,000
Set by the River Great Ouse, the historic town of Bedford is excellent value as far as homes are concerned and has some great senior school options. Bedford takes the worry out of the senior school places race. It has half a dozen options, five of which are rated
“good” by the Ofsted education watchdog. The sixth, St Thomas More Catholic School, has an “outstanding” report. This is great news for families with older children, but a sting in the tail is that Bedford’s primary schools are more of a mixed bag. Three have “outstanding” Ofsted reports, but two failed to meet Government standards in the 2017/18 SATs tests, and there is an ongoing dispute over the restructuring of three more. Handle with caution. For families past the primary stage, Bedford is a lively market town with a good range of shops, pubs and restaurants, regular crafts markets, plenty of green space, and a theatre. Its river festival is the largest annual outdoor event in the United Kingdom apart from Notting Hill Carnival. Bedford’s property stock is mainly Victorian
houses and its most sought-after area is Castle Quarter, close to the river, with its own parade of cafés, wine bars and shops. A four-bedroom terrace house would cost in the region of £500,000, or smaller families could go for a three-bedroom home for about £300,000, which is less than the price of most London apartments. For buyers after a new-build property, De Montfort Place (storey-homes.co.uk) has four-bedroom houses with period style façades and contemporary living space, priced from £450,000. As for the
commute, Bedford is a good option. Trains to St Pancras International take from 43 minutes, and an annual season ticket costs £4,836.