Which towns and cities have the best schools?

When families are looking to relocate to another part of the country, there are many things to take into consideration. How affordable the houses are is obviously one of the main deciding factors, but crime rate and the quality of schools in the area usually come into it too.

The government’s Ofsted department carries out regular inspections of schools and ranks them accordingly, based on things like child safety, the marking and feedback of children’s work and the school’s behaviour policy and improvement plan.

In 2021, Oxford Home Schooling conducted research to find out the best towns and cities to move to, based on the percentage of ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted grades and the availability of schools places.

The study also took into consideration how affordable the houses are – based on average wages and property prices – as well as crime rates.

According to recent research, some of the best places in the country to bring up children include Rutland, Cumbria and Herefordshire, mainly due to the fact that their schools are considered ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted.

This is in contrast to towns and cities like Leicester, Salford and Stoke-on-Trent that scored badly in the study; with Bristol coming bottom, largely because of limited school places and poor Ofsted rankings.

Below, we reveal the top nine areas of the UK where you’ll find the towns and cities that have the best schools.

Top nine areas of the UK with the best schools

1. Rutland

Not only does Rutland come top for being the best local authority in the East Midlands for schools, but it’s the best in the whole country.

With more than a third (34%) of student places not filled last year, it’s got the best availability rate in England and in their latest Ofsted inspection, 95% of its schools were considered ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’.

What’s more, it has the second-lowest crime rate in the country, with just 41 offences per 1,000 people. Considering the national average is 93 offences per 1,000 people, it’s an extremely safe place to live.

Families looking to move to Rutland have plenty of child-friendly activities nearby, such as Rutland Zoo and Rutland Farm Park. Children keen to learn about the history of the area can visit Rutland Castle or Rutland County Museum.

2. Cumbria

A high availability of school places (21%), combined with affordable house prices makes Cumbria the top local authority for the North West – and second-best in the country.

Some of the best primary schools here include Boltons C of E School – which is in Wigton, where typical property prices range from £114,840 for a terraced home to £243,740 for a detached property – and Lanercost C of E Primary School in Brampton. Average detached homes in Brampton sell for £278,300 and a typical terraced house will set you back £136,069.

For kids who want to take learning out of the classroom, then Cumbria is the ideal location to learn about nature, with access to the Lakes and diverse wildlife on the doorstep.

3. Herefordshire

Thanks to its low crime rate (56 offences per 1,000 people) and high percentage of top Ofsted grades (93%), Herefordshire is the best local authority in the West Midlands and third best in the country.

Parents who want to support their children’s education will be pleased to know that there are plenty of libraries and museums in the local area, with some free to use or join.

4. Stockton-on-Tees

The fourth best local authority in England is Stockton-on-Tees, which is the top authority in the North East region due to its availability rate (16% of school places weren’t filled last year), as well as the fact that 94% of its schools achieved a ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted score.

In contrast, Middlesbrough is another town in the North East but it has a low availability of student places (3%), making it the worst authority in the region when its high crime rate (160 offences per 1,000 people) is taken into consideration too.

5. East Riding of Yorkshire

The East Riding of Yorkshire comes fifth for being the best area for schools in England and top in the Yorkshire and the Humber region.

This is largely due to its high availability of school places (25%), but house prices are affordable here too, with the average wage for the area £24,000 and the typical house price coming in at £184,000.

Yorkshire is the perfect place for young people wanting to learn more about nature, with the Yorkshire Dales and Yorkshire Moors all easily accessible.

6. West Berkshire

With its low crime levels (57 offences per 1,000 people) and high percentage of available school places (17%), West Berkshire is the best local authority in the South East and sixth best in the whole country.

With a mix of junior, senior, private and state schools in the area, there is plenty of choice for families looking to buy a house in West Berkshire.

7. Bath and North East Somerset

When it comes to the South West, Bath and North East Somerset is the best local authority because of its high school place availability (25%) and low crime rate of 62 offences per 1,000 people.

Bath is a fascinating city for students looking to learn about history, and for those interested in architecture, the city’s buildings provide plenty of inspiration.

8. Central Bedfordshire

In the East of England, Central Bedfordshire is the top local authority, which ranked eighth best authority nationally.

It has a high availability of student places (19%) and 88% of schools achieved a ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted score when they were last inspected.

9. Sutton

The best local authority in London is Sutton, where crime levels are low (60 offences per 1,000 people) and a high percentage (95%) of schools have a top Ofsted rating. One of these is Nonsuch High School for Girls in the village of Cheam.

The capital has a huge choice of schools, so it can be tricky for parents to know where precisely to start house hunting. In Sutton, families have access to good schools, without having to compromise on safety.