Written by Lisa Proffitt | 23rd August 2019


Michael Graham’s guide to the best senior schools in the region

A collective sigh of relief. Students are finally in possession of their A Level and GCSE results. For those families living in London, finding out whether their child got into their first choice of senior school involves an equally agonising wait and this year a record breaking 33,000 were disappointed.

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Children leaving primary school is often the make or break moment for the big move to the country. Commuter towns just an hour outside of the capital are bursting with excellent schools and house prices in the home counties are far more realistic. Here’s our guide to the very best senior schools in the Michael Graham region.


 Set by the River Great Ouse, the historic town of Bedford has excellent value houses for sale and some great senior school options. Many state schools are rated “good” by Ofsted and some “outstanding”. In the independent sector, Bedford School and Bedford Girls’ School benefit from being part of The Harpur Trust, one of the 200 largest charities in the country and with a focus on outstanding education. Bedford is a lively market town with a good range of shops, pubs and restaurants, regular craft markets, and a theatre. Everything you get in London but with more green space, and its river festival is the largest annual outdoor event in the UK apart from Notting Hill Carnival. As for the commute, Bedford is a good option. Trains to St Pancras International take from 43 minutes.


This county in the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is bursting with fantastic state schools, grammar schools and private options. Stowe School near Buckingham is one of the world’s most prestigious schools and is considered to have the most beautiful grounds of any school in the UK. Akeley Wood School, five miles from Stowe, is also independent and has three sites enabling the school to take your child from nursery right through to sixth form. Buckingham also has the excellent Royal Latin Grammar School and elsewhere in the county High Wycombe and Aylesbury have excellent grammar schools for pupils who pass the eleven-plus. The reliable Chiltern line will whisk commuters into the capital from Bicester or Milton Keynes in well under an hour.


Northampton lies on the River Nene, 60 miles north-west of London and is a large market town in the East Midlands. Villages in the county are beautiful, so much so that Country Life magazine frequently marvels that country estates here are overlooked in favour of homes in pricier counties like Berkshire. The county is another great one for education, whether your preference is for state or private. Oundle School is in the picturesque town of Oundle, recorded in the Domesday Book as one of five market towns in Northamptonshire, and has long been associated with the very best of modern independent education, especially boarding education. Northampton School for Boys and Northampton School for Girls are mainstream, state funded senior schools in the town and are both rated outstanding in every respect by OFSTED.


Just north of London, Hertfordshire has train lines running into Euston, St Pancras, King’s Cross and Liverpool Street and the county is a haven for people who want to work in the city but live in the countryside. One in five people who live in St Albans commute into London - trains take just 19 minutes into St Pancras. There are no fully selective grammar schools left in Hertfordshire but there are four partially selective ones. Competition for places at Dame Alice Owen, St Clement Danes School, Watford Grammar School for Boys and Watford Grammar School for Girls is fierce with a smattering of children at Dame Alice Owen travelling in daily from Islington. Sherrardswood School in Welwyn is popular with parents looking for a private option and outstanding state-school places are like gold dust. One of the best is Beaumont School in St Albans, a co-ed senior school and sixth form with academy status. If you’re buying a house hoping to get in to Beaumont, take a tape measure to check you’re in catchment.


Do you have school age children and want to move house? Here at Michael Graham we know everything there is to know about schools and amenities in our area and can help you focus your search on the area that ticks all the right boxes for you and your family. Click on the Contact button to find your nearest Michael Graham office and we can start your property search today. For a selection of all our homes for sale, press Property Search on the website now. The homes below are all close to outstanding schools.

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