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Welcome to London's most 'outstanding' neighbourhoods - our 2017 snapshot of Ofsted's finest primary schools

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How to read the map

The number inside each circle indicates the percentage of 'outstanding' primary schools in that borough, as a percentage of total mainstream primary schools. The sizes of the circles give an approximate sense of how these compare (with the exception of the City of London, see below).

The churches give an indication of the percentage of these 'outstanding' schools that are faith schools: so for instance 50 per cent of the 'outstanding' primaries in Wandsworth are faith schools, whereas in Havering they comprise only 10 per cent of 'outstanding' primaries. Despite the symbol, these faiths are all and any. 

And, removal vans at the ready, what does it tell us?

·         The London borough of Kensington & Chelsea, including Holland Park and Notting Hill, tops the charts this year for the number of ‘outstanding’ state primaries – 14 out of 28 – of these, 50 per cent are faith schools.

·         Meanwhile Barking & Dagenham in the north and Bexley in the south offer the fewest ‘outstanding’ schools. Large primaries, 120 places in a year, are common in Barking & Dagenham and improvement is stagnating. Of Bexley’s 70 primaries a mere 6 are rated ‘outstanding’.

·         57 per cent of the ‘outstanding’ primaries in Hammersmith & Fulham are faith schools: the highest in any London borough. It’s also useful to practise a faith in Camden, Wandsworth and Westminster.

·         Where good primaries are thin on the ground, such as Bromley, catchments are tiny with 7 or more applications for every place the norm. By comparison, although fewer in number, the excellent C. of E. and Catholic schools are far less over-subscribed.

·         100 per cent of schools may be ‘outstanding' in The City of London. However, this represents a single ‘outstanding’ primary – a church school requiring attendance fortnightly for two years prior to admission.

·         No faith and no desire to find one? Redbridge has the smallest number of faith schools amongst the ‘outstanding’s: just the one.

·         Many ‘outstanding’ schools are small (those established 'village' schools with an in-take of 30 may find it less challenging to hit the grade than the 4 classes per year new primary academies) so one needs to be mindful that a borough offering 50 per cent of schools as 'outstanding'   does not mean that 50 per cent of school places allocated will be in ‘outstanding’ schools.

·         Some boroughs are more turbulent than others: with primaries seeming to rise and fall with the tide. Many schools that reach ‘outstanding’ status will remain that way indefinitely, becoming local magnets that will safely see a widely distributed family of four through the gates. In other boroughs, schools seem less able to sustain consistently high standards. Most improved boroughs for primary schools in the past three years are: Hounslow, Bexley, Waltham Forest and Croydon.

·         A new ‘outstanding’ rating can create a stampede: one Croydon primary recently saw applications increase by 60 per cent in two years.

·         Is Lambeth the new ‘nappy valley’?  The borough which includes Kennington, Herne Hill, eastern Clapham, Balham, Streatham and West Norwood has risen to the challenge of its rising population and contains state primary gems, such as those in the Gypsy Hill Federation. Applications are polarised around ‘outstanding’ primaries and the commute to school for the successful could be no more than a 300m scoot. 

·         If this picture feels ‘squeezed’ it is. However, new openings have been all the rage on the primary landscape in the past couple of years most of which will not be faith schools: for pioneers there are free schools of all shapes and persuasions; new primary ventures from successful secondaries creating all-through schools, or long-term ‘outstanding’ Heads given the go-ahead to replicate their success elsewhere.

Whether you plan to hunt for a state or independent school for your child, whether you're re-locating to London, have some flexibility to switch sides of the river or need to stay put, we're here to help with the search and the process to secure a place in the best possible school. We love to listen, have data at our finger-tips,  an awareness of all of the crucial dates and hoops to be jumped through and a firm belief that it's NEVER TOO EARLY to start planning. 


Data extracted on 5th January 2017. Source: Department of Education.