London might not sound like the ideal place to raise children
London is one of the largest cities in Europe and life in it is very fast paced. At Royal Cleaning we try to help people by offering them services such as end of tenancy cleaning to help make their lifes easier, but that's not the point of this topic. As we said London is one of the biggest cities in London not only by urban agglomerations, but by the official population too. Around 30 million visitors from other countries come and go every year, while in the same time more than 200,000 migrants arrive and settle to find better opportunities for a living. London is often listed as one of the most expensive and troublesome cities in the whole world, because of its rush hours, busy traffic, thousands of people being cold as ice, and on the top of all this - the never stopping rain. That is why many wonder if it’s possible to raise a child in the capital of the United Kingdom?!
Let’s put aside all the noisy voices of family and friends, who already told you all of the above, along with their strong opinion that it’s pure madness to have a normal family life in The Big Smoke. Now take a deep breath, a piece of white paper, focus and try to be rational about all the matters you should consider, when you’ve decided to look after a small child in the big city.
The first thing to think about when it comes to raising kids is to keep them safe no matter what. Here comes in handy the crime map, provided by Metropolitan Police. You can choose and locate every area in London and easily find the safest places in the capital.
The best borough in London to raise children
For years Richmond upon Thames and Kingston upon Thames conquered the winning stairs in this list, but in 2018 was established a new order. According to the Metropolitan Police Crime Data Dashboard, the safest neighborhood in London for the last year is Sutton with a crime rate of 58.34 per 1000. The free from danger borough has more advantages to offer. With a mile-long High Street, Sutton is London’s sixth bustling downtown area and meets a wide range of family necessities. Lots of parents choose this neighborhood because of its excellent state schools, including five grammar schools. Sutton can offer lots of green spaces, affordable homes and still remains only half an hour from London Bridge. This borough has great transport links – there’s direct trains or buses to almost every significant point in London, plus you can always choose to cycle instead thanks to all the paths, which form a part of the European cycle network. Sutton can offer literally dozens of parks and gardens or in other words perfect locations to spend some quality family time.
Silver Medal for lowest Crime Rates
Moving forward with the 2018th police reports - 58.41 per 1000 is the crime rate in Harrow. Nestled in the far north-western corner of London, this borough is a far cry from the rapid pace of the city center, and instead embraces its own calm and cozy way of life. Lots of young couples choose Harrow to start a family and raise their offspring. The chances to have a kindly smiling old lady or a loving elder couple as neighbors are quite probable. The quiet charm of Harrow is waving from its many parks and open areas plus you can easily find anything you need in the two shopping centers. You won't miss grocery stores, gyms, theaters and art galleries. The famous Harrow School is always a tremendous option for education, but far from being the only one in the borough. Did you know that if you’re into Indian food, the best places to find in whole London are the local restaurants?
Bronze Medal for lowest crime rates
Bronze medal for free from danger district goes to Bexley (61.46 per 1000 crime rate). Fourteen miles South East from the center of London sits one of the greenest boroughs in the capital. With an impressive number of over 100 parks, as well as an appealing walking route along the River Thames, Bexley is literally a breath of fresh air. Although in 2012 it was voted one of the best places to live in the UK, the vividly green and quietly emphasized borough somehow stays under the radar. Modest and unique, calm but artistic, easy for living and sophisticated – Bexley offers lots of boutique cafes, bakeries, and independent stores next to well-known brands and leading high street chains.
Richmond upon Thames is another place to assure that your infants will grow up safe and sound. (63.44 per 1000 crime rate for the twelve month period of 2018). This neighborhood is not only free from danger, but can easily be mistaken for a place taken straight out of a fairy tale. Dears are freely walking around, the river of Thames is bubbling, reflecting the sunshine and the reviving nuances of green, which lovingly embrace the horizon. Richmond is the prime choice for nature lovers, the muse of romantic artist and the harmonious leisure venue giving shelter to once sparkling celebrities after years of fame. There are many other reasons to foot the bill and spend some extra cash for rent. These include lots of cultural activities to choose from, a variety of sports to attend, a strong community to be part of, lots of good schools and a well organized public transport.
4th and 5th places in terms of lowest crime rates in London
Moving a bit to the west, we find ourselves in Merton – crime rate here is 65.47 – beyond that there’s far more to know about this peaceful suburban borough, famous for the Wimbledon Tennis Champions. The popularity of this district is growing fast, so maybe now is the perfect moment to reserve your very own spot in the area. Merton offers a tiny bit of everything – it manages to stay away from the buzz of the city, while being dizzyingly diversified at the same time. Traditional British supper, Japanese food, benedict eggs, Italian pizza, traditional pubs, fancy cafes, cozy bakeries – name it – you can have it all here. If gastronomical tours and drinking beer doesn’t feel like your thing, just wait until you visit all the museum across the borough and learn more about its history. The trip will take you approximately two thousand years back in time. Since we’re also talking about raising an offspring, let’s mention that one of the main reasons for families to settle here are the great results shown by students, learning in the independent school in the borough.
Now heading back to the river of Thames, it’s time to meet the last pick for a safety, pleasing place to settle in. Welcome to the Kingston upon Thames – crime rate 68.36; population – 179 581; 47 primary schools; 3 railway stations and almost 12 centuries of existence. Basically, Kingston is a cheaper version of Richmond – it may not have the same blossoming charm, but still can offer a fair amount of open spaces, cozy parks, and rich cultural life. To be fair, this borough can still bring back the memories of royal times and tell the story of kings and queens. The society here is quite active and prompt, plus new members are always welcome. A bit more modest and a lot more convenient, this borough can easily be described as the Friday night, which offers the cozy, unpretentious pleasure of a good movie, comfy clothes and a cup of hot chocolate.
Education in London and how important good schools are
Another significant thing to consider once you decide to move or stay with your family in London is proper education. As long as private schools are both expensive and controversial, many parents prefer to change the borough in order to give their pupils the chance for a better education. That’s why there are many reasons why you should think ahead, especially if you’re considering to buy your own place.
Here comes the first thing you should know – according to Good Schools Guide 2018 there are 10 times more applications for good state schools than places available in the capital. Over the next four years, the population of London is expected to grow by 12% - this makes the competition for a living within an area with a desirable state secondary school rather intense. Brexit makes things even worse by putting extra pressure on the spouses and leaving them to wonder and worry about job security and personal finances. That’s why the decision to hunt out a good state school rather than an expensive private one seems much more appealing.
Real estate agency specialists assert that the proximity to educational facilities is without a doubt the number one consideration for families moving. According to market analysis, if ten years ago a parent’s first concern was connectivity to work, nowadays the children’s education definitely exceeds over. This leads to higher prices of properties with favorable location. To be precise, according to new market research, the cost of living close to one of London’s top-performing state senior schools adds at least £70,000 to the bill or 15% more than homes in the surrounding area.
Having this in mind, let’s look at the boroughs, which offer the best education. Research by the Department for Education, based on good passes at GCSE in English and maths, reveals which are the best state and grammar schools in London. The educational facilities in Kingston and Sutton come on top of the class. More than two-thirds of pupils in these two boroughs finished their 11th year with a grade between nine and five (the equivalent of A* to B). Next in line are the institutions of Barnet, Richmond, Kensington and Chelsea. The remainder of the top 10 consists of Redbridge, Westminster, Ealing, Wandsworth and Harrow.
London boroughs which offer the best education
|#||London Borough Name||Schools with top score|
“Evening Standard” shades a bit more light upon the topic. The media published a list of top ten schools in London, based on the percentage of pupils passing five GCSEs with good grades, including English and maths. Here is the full list:
- Tiffin Girls’ School, Kingston upon Thames
- Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet
- Nonsuch High School for Girls, Sutton
- Wallington County Grammar School, Sutton
- St Olave’s and St Saviour’s Grammar school, Bromley
- Wilson’s School, Sutton
- Ilford County High School, Redbridge
- St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School, Barnet
- Townley Grammar School, Bexley
- The Latymer School, Enfield
One more reason to choose the right neighborhood is to assure that your kid won’t drop out and end up in an underperforming secondary. Despite the fact that the schools in the capital outshine the rest of the country, almost 30,000 London children are being taught in underperforming secondaries. 31 schools in the city failed to meet the government’s minimum floor target for GCSE results. This means that in 2018 there are 27,000 pupils being taught in secondary schools that are underperforming. Another list made by the media can help the parents in choosing a good borough. Those are the 16 districts in London with no underperforming schools – Barnet, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Hounslow, Southwark, Brent, Hackney, Harrow, Wandsworth, Haringey, Islington, Kingston upon Thames, Westminster, Merton, Richmond upon Thames and Kensington and Chelsea.
And if this is not hard enough, there’s a long run before getting in one of these educational facilities. Your kid might need proper primary schools as well. The capital traditionally shows better results than the rest of the country. Across England, 64 percent of pupils reached the expected standard in all of reading, writing, and maths. In London, the figure was 70 percent. Evening Standard reveals the top performing primary schools in London in 2018. These are the nine primary schools in London scoring 100 percent, ranked according to the number of pupils, who passed reading, writing, and maths SATs:
- Hampstead Parochial CofE, Camden
- Our Lady of Victories Catholic, Wandsworth
- Riverside, Southwark
- Sir William Burrough, Tower Hamlets
- St John and St James CofE, Hackney
- St Peter’s, Hammersmith and Fulham
- The Cathedral School of St Saviour and St Mary Overy, Southwark
- The London Oratory School,Hammersmith and Fulham
- Trinity St Mary’s CofE, Wandsworth
London schools where children perform best in maths, writing and reading
Another list, based on 2018th results, might give you the right perspective. Here you can find the league tables, which show the performance of 11-year-olds at London state primary schools, who took National Curriculum tests last year. Schools are considered to be under-performing if less than 65 percent of pupils reach the expected standard in reading, writing, and maths, or if they fail to make sufficient progress in the three areas. The full data display that the number of schools considered to be under-performing has decreased. But 364 mainstream primaries in England still fell below the floor standard.
Education is important, but so is time outside
Now it’s time to leave the classroom and go outside for a breath of fresh air. This leads us to the third important thing to consider if you’re going to raise your kids in London. Let’s find a place with blossoming parks and gardens, where your children can learn that the world around them deserves to be explored beyond the many screens of the media. A place for them to ride a bike, to fall down and get up, to play games, to get their first bruises, but most importantly to lose a track of time and find themselves.
In about 10 years London’s population is projected to reach 10 million. The UK capital is already one of the busiest city in the world and the temp of its growth doesn’t seem to slow down. But don’t be so fast in taking post-apocalyptic measures. Actually, thanks to a raft of new initiatives, London is on course of becoming one of the greenest and most sustained cities on Earth. Today 47% of the city is green space and 60 percent is classified as open space, thanks to initiatives like Trees for Cities (the project has more than 25 years of history). By the 2050s, the UK capital is going to become the first-ever National Park City – a project that will push for half of the city area to consist of green and blue spaces - parks and bodies of water. So forget about the dark thoughts or the gray skies, and imagine bright horizons and a green future instead. London Sustainable Development Commission is one of the guarantors to make sure, that the capital will remain viable as it develops and grows. The commission works closely with the London Mayor Sadiq Khan on transforming the capital in a green Silicon Valley. The main idea is the creation of a new clean technology hub within London, as the green tech will be a key part of the sustainable economy.
Until all of the above is said and done, consider the following boroughs if you want your family to be part of the buzzing life in the capital and stay close to nature at the same time. According to Guardian, you should aim for these eight districts – Sutton, Kingston, Bexley, Richmond, Greenwich, Merton, Bromley, Lewisham, Islington, Westminster, and Tower Hamlets. To define the greenest boroughs, the study took into concern five factors – recycling, air pollution, renewable energy, energy efficiency and percentage of green space.
The district of Bromley marks 55 percent of green space, which makes this borough winner in this criteria, followed by Havering with 53.2% and Richmond upon Thames with 49.7%. The City of London is the least air polluted neighborhood - only 15.7 tonnes of CO₂ emissions are measured there per year. This puts it way ahead of the 35.4 for the second in line - Islington. The bronze goes to Kensington and Chelsea – 38.7. Barking and Dagenham is London’s most eco-friendly borough with the lowest carbon emissions of them all. Bexley is the home of eco-warriors live. This is the number one borough in London for household recycling. Bromley and Ealing are on top of the chart for highest household recycling rates in London.
Some extra green facts about London
Boroughs with the most green spaces in London
|#||Borough||Green space in percentages|
|3||Richmond upon Thames||49.7|
Least Poluted Boroughs
|#||London Borough Name||Air Polution CO2 in tonnes|
|1||City of London||15.7 tonnes|
|3||Barking & Dagenham||38.7 tonnes|
No matter what, don’t forget one simple truth – The home is not about the place, but the people, who we share it with. When it comes to the ones that need care and protection, let’s see what options can London offer for raising preschoolers. Even though we want to share every minute of our adorable little humans’ life, it comes a time when children daycare is our top priority. Below you can see what are your options and their average costs in London:
Average prices for raising pre-schoolers
- Registered childminder – £145.42 per week part-time or £284.21 per week full-time
- Day nursery - £164.50 per week part-time or £305.92 per week full-time
- Part-time nanny - £263-£434 per week including tax and NI contributions
- Live-in nanny - £433 per week plus tax, National Insurance, room and board
- Daily nanny - £616 per week plus tax, National Insurance, room and board
- Au pair – “Pocket money” of around £70-£85 per week plus room and board Informal or free childcare
- Playgroup or pre-school - £5-£10 per 3-hour session
- Sure Start Children's Centre - Depends on your household income - some play sessions can be free
- Nursery school - for free if it’s part of the state school system
- Family or friends - Can be free. But if you intend to pay a family member for childcare, you might not qualify for help with childcare costs
- Shared childcare arrangement - Technically free, but you’ll need to factor in a loss of income, and you won’t get any government help
To see which opportunity suits you best – you can read more about the pros and cons of each on Money Advice Service (MAS) or one of the government-sponsored financial guidances.
All 3 to 4-year-olds in England can get 570 free hours per year. It’s usually taken as 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year, but you can choose to take fewer hours over more weeks. Check if you’re eligible and find out how to apply.
The day nurseries look after children from birth to five years, though the exact age ranges vary from nursery to nursery. Some nurseries don't take babies or young toddlers, or they may only take children up to four years old.
You can apply online for your child's place. Applications close at midnight on 31 January. Your child isn't guaranteed a place in your first preference pre-school setting, so you should select at least four settings.
If you’re looking for some extra tips, coming from the “mammas community”, or need some practical advice in raising your child – this place can come in handy.
Do you need a babysitter, childminder, nanny or au pair – then give this site a chance to find the right person at the right time and place. Here you can find all the information you need. Read resumes, reviews, qualifications, fees and even more about the person, who is going to take care of your child, while you’re away.
Trying to find the best nursery in your borough? – Then enter your location here and choose the place that suits you most. You can always check the National Day Nurseries Association website and stay in touch with all the latest news about policies’ changes.
If you want to bet on registered childminder – find yours here.
A few extra tips about raising children in London
Check if your employer offers childcare vouchers. You can get tax-free vouchers to pay for childcare with a registered provider, which are worth up to a maximum of £55 a week. Aside from nurseries and childminders, childcare vouchers can be used also to pay for taking care of older children. The latter option can be applied only up until the first September after the 15th birthday.
Your local gym can be a lifesaver. Gyms offer a wide variety of solutions - from regular after-school classes to holiday clubs and creches. In many cases, if the kids join (for as little as £10 a month), all these things are free.
You don’t have to be homeless or unemployed to look up to charity. There are plenty of organizations that can help you with being a good parent and a functional adult at the same time. They may run free clubs and classes after school, or offer solutions for holiday care through a local authority playscheme.
Children under five can travel free at any time on all public transport without a ticket, as long as they are accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket. Don’t forget that children under the age of 11 can also travel free on the London Transport. This includes The Tube (London Underground trains), London Buses, Docklands Light Railway and London Overground Trains.
Final words… There will always be articles, which flatter London to be the perfect place for having a family and on the other side you’ll find the equal amount of words why you should never ever even think about it. The coin will always have two sides and we’ll never know if drinking coffee is good or bad for our health, but there’s one thing we know for sure – no matter which city or a borough you choose – the most important thing is to fill your home with love and to cherish all the small things, that bring smile to your face and fill your mouth with laughter. Just remember to stop and smell the roses even when it rains.
Hopefully you found the post informative, as we definitely did our best to cover all aspects of raising children in London. Having a child is one of the most important steps in a person's life and raising it in the best possible environment can make a huge difference. As long as you love your children and care for them, where they learn, how much time they have in nature or how low the crime rate in your neighbourhood aren't that important, so make sure you care for your kids and show them how much you love them on a daily basis. Love Royal Cleaning