United Kingdom

Best Primary schools near me: Find an undersubscribed, outstanding school in your area

The latest results are for the 2019 academic year, as league tables based on the classes of 2020 will not be released until January next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Deciding which primary schools to apply for can be a daunting prospect for parents. You only get one shot at applications, and putting down only the very best schools is a gamble that may or may not pay off.

But there are 918 “outstanding” primaries in England that are undersubscribed,  meaning they have fewer applicants than they did places. But where in the country are they? And which ones are near you? Enter your postcode below to find out the undersubscribed, outstanding schools in your area.

How to find out if schools in your area are oversubscribed

Enter your postcode into our searchable tool above, and you will get a list of all the schools in your area.

You can not only find out which schools in your area are over or undersubscribed, but also see their Ofsted ratings. You'll find out the best but also the most realistic school in your area to apply to, based on 2019's intake.

The data, obtained from the Department for Education through freedom of information requests, compares the number of times a school was listed as a first-preference choice to the number of places offered in 2019. 

This presents the most up-to-date figure for the ratio of applications per place at any individual school.

What we found

The best place in the country to live if you want to get your child into a top state primary school is the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Over a quarter (26 per cent) of primaries in the borough which were given the highest Ofsted grade were also undersubscribed the previous year.

Despite being rated as “outstanding” by inspectors, these schools had fewer applicants selecting them as their first choice than the number of places they had available.

Of the 26 primary schools in Kensington and Chelsea, 16 are “outstanding” and seven of these are undersubscribed.

Hackney emerged as the second best borough in the country for getting children into top primaries, which had one in five (21 per cent) of its “outstanding” schools undersubscribed.

Richmond upon Thames came third, followed by Trafford, Gateshead and Windsor and Maindenhead.

Newnham, Hammersmith and Fulham, Bournemouth and Poole were also in the top ten best places in England to live if you want the best chance of getting children into excellent primary schools.

Elizabeth Campbell, the Conservative leader of the Kensington and Chelsea, said that the council has spent millions of pounds over the last decade on opening new schools and improving existing schools.

She said that the majority of children in the borough are educated at fee-paying institutions, meaning that there are less pupils competing for places at state schools.

“55 per cent of our children go to private schools,” she said. “You might have quite a lot of the middle class children going to private school, hence the even more extraordinary results for the state schools that so many are outstanding."

Lord Lucas, editor-in-chief of the Good Schools Guide, said that there has been a great improvement in primary schools in recent years but parents still need to be strategic when making their choices.

“The point of having up to six choices of schools is that you use your first few on ones you really want to get into but might not have a chance at,” he said.

“The way to play the game is to make sure you choose a school that you are certain to get into as your last choice. The big mistake is not to list a school that you have a chance at getting into.”

Eight local authorities in England did not have a single outstanding, undersubscribed school, our analysis found. These were City of London, Dudley, Isle of Wight, Luton, Merton, Peterborough, Reading and Southend-on-Sea.

The most oversubscribed school in the country is Beaumont Primary School, in Croydon, south London. There was a ratio of 4.67 first-preference applications per place in this outstanding school in 2019.

The most undersubscribed schools in the country in 2019 were Oldfield Primary School, Wintringham Primary Academy, Membury Primary Academy, Goodnestone Church of England Primary School, Yealand Church of England Primary School, Shelton with Hardwick Community School.

These six schools collectively handed out 15 places the previous year, despite not receiving a single first-preference application.

The most undersubscribed “outstanding” school was Earl's Court Free School Primary, in Hammersmith and Fulham, which saw 14 first-preference applications while offering 30 places.

What does it mean when a school is oversubscribed?

An oversubscribed school is one where it has more applicants selecting it as their first choice than it has places. This means that some parents who chose that school as their first choice option will get turned down.

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