Starting Primary School in 2015: top London state school catchment areas

stmaryabbotsAre you applying for primary school places to start Reception in September 2015? At many oversubscribed London state primary schools, catchment areas have been shrinking in recent years, although there is some relief in select councils. In Richmond, the newly opened Thomson House free school and a bulge class at Barnes Primary helped ease the pressure last year – it’s probably the only borough left in London where an outstanding state primary can have a catchment area of 1 mile! But even at many of the top Muswell Hill state primary schools, catchment areas seem to have remained constant or even increased for a change, which is great news. Other parts of London were not so lucky. Certainly in Kensington and Fulham getting into an outstanding state primary school is a big challenge! The popular strategy of renting next to your desired school becomes a challenge with catchment areas of 0.05 miles, as in the case of Fox Primary School!

If you have subscribed to my newsletter, you will have access to the most recent version of the free London Schools Guide (see top right for sign-up form), which contains links to all Starting Primary School Admissions Booklets of the London boroughs which list catchment areas and admissions criteria for all state primary schools. If you are still undecided on where in London you want to live when you apply or you are considering where to move in London, here is a little overview of admissions criteria for the top London state primary schools that will give you a good idea. The common theme is probably that you need to be an avid church goer if you want to get into one of the sought after voluntary aided schools, or you need to live within 200-300 meters of your chosen community primary. This rule seems to apply in most areas. But let’s get started with the overview of catchment areas:

Outstanding state primary schools in Camden are massively oversubscribed. The new free school Abacus Primary in Belsize Park will provide some relief, but it may not be enough. Like Barnet, Camden is yet to publish the 2015 brochure, so we will take the stats from the 2014 for now and update the post as soon as the new information is published. The popular Christopher Hatton Primary near Holborn only took one child living 0.03 miles from the school under distance criteria, all other places were filled by siblings and one child with special educational needs. Eleanor Palmer Primary was not much better with a catchment area of 0.1 miles! Fleet Primary at 0.35 miles and Torriano Infants at 0.30 miles are slightly better, but overall catchment areas in Camden are very small across the board, so be careful!

Kensington and Chelsea
Back in Central London, there is no respite for people hoping to get into an outstanding state primary school. Bousfield Primary School could only extend offers to families living within 0.1644 of a mile from the school! It was even tougher to get into Fox Primary, with the furthest pupil admitted living 0.06 miles from the school within the priority area (if you think it is impossible even to live so close to a school, I even know a lucky family who lives within this distance of Fox Primary! According to the statistics, 20 places were allocated within this distance!). Thomas Jones Primary near Ladbroke Grove is just mildly better with the furthest distance at 0.145 of a mile from the school. At the highly successful Oratory RC Primary School in Chelsea, only Baptised Catholic children from practising
Catholic families whose families attended Mass regularly and who are resident within the Oratory Parish were able to gain a place. What a shame, I love the Oratory RC uniform – the first time I saw pupils from the school on the streets of South Kensington I thought “I wonder which fancy prep school that is!”. Only the Garden House School comes close in terms of style!

Hammersmith and Fulham

The catchment area of the popular All Saints Church of England primary school had already been cut in half in 2013, and it got even worse in 2014 when only one open place was offered to a family at a distance of 0.09 miles from the school. The popular bilingual French Lycee programme at L’ecole Marie d’Orliac was heavily oversubscribed again with a catchment area of only 0.16 miles (compared to 0.2504 miles in 2013). The Fulham Bilingual programme is switching to a lottery admissions system (within a defined, relatively large area of Fulham) for 2015 to avoid families moving next to the school to secure a place. The newly opened West London Free School Primary in Hammersmith had a catchment area of 0.49 miles in its second year.

Further East, catchment areas are no wider, with the most popular schools’ catchment areas in Islington at:
Canonbury 0.418 miles (not so bad!)
Grafton 0.231 miles
Thornhill 0.373 miles
William Tyndale 0.243 miles
Yerbury Primary School 0.224 miles
Keep in mind please that these distances just show you retrospectively what the cut-off distance for admission was in 2014, they are a good indicator but distances do vary from year to year depending on the number of siblings, birth rates, and changes to class sizes or competing schools. There is no guarantee you will gain admission if you live closer than the distances shown!

In Westminster Council, the King Solomon Academy (one of the few state primary school in London I’ve found so far using the Singapore Maths curriculum – where are the others??) was able to offer places to parents living in a radius of up to 326 metres from the school. Hampden Gurney CE Primary School, the top performing school by test results after Grinling Gibbons, only accepted applicants who are avid and practicing members of the Church of England.

Grinling Gibbons is London’s top performing state primary school if you look at SATS results. Its catchment area in 2014 was a tiny 186 metres.

Burnt Ash Primary in Bromley with a last offer distance of 0.62 miles looks like a piece of cake in comparison, as does Clare House with 0.46 miles. Offer distance at the popular Pickhurst Infant Academy shrank to 0.47 miles, while a tough one to get into in 2014 was the Valley Primary with an offer distance of 0.17 miles!

Further up North in Muswell Hill and Crouch End, an area known for many outstanding state primary schools, catchment areas remained fairly constant, some shrank and some got wider. Here are last distances offered for Muswell Hill’s most popular state primary schools:
Coleridge 0.3211 (0.3251 in 2013)
Coldfall 0.38  (0.5248 in 2013)
Muswell Hill 0.2374 (0.3171 in 2013)
Rhodes Avenue 0.3557 (0.3456 in 2013)
Tetherdown 0.3565 (0.2508 in 2013)

The council of Barnet is still updating final information for the 2015 brochure. Here are the stats for the previous year: In the popular Hampstead Garden Suburb, Brookland Infant School with 90 Reception places had a catchment area of 0.387 and the equally outstanding Garden Suburb Infant School a catchment area of 0.82, so at least you know it is not absolutely impossible to get a place at a top state school near Golders Green. Martin Primary, another school close to East Finchley tube station had a catchment area of 0.62 miles. The high performing Courtland Primary near Mill Hill had a tiny catchment of 0.19 only.

Newton Farm Junior School made negative headlines with a scandal about potential test result manipulation, but it still had a tiny catchment area of  0.263 miles only. High performing Whitchurch Junior School looks better with a cut-off distance of 0.608 miles, as does Cannon Lane Primary School at 0.773 miles.


Not only does Richmond Borough have many outstanding primary schools with the widest catchment areas, they also publish extremely helpful maps of successful and unsuccessful applications for each oversubscribed school called primary school allocation maps. The following table gives the ‘cut-off’ distance from home to school of the last child offered a place for the most popular non-faith Richmond Borough community primary schools. The distance in brackets is the cut-off for the previous year’s admissions.
School                  Distance in metres
Barnes Primary  288 (400)
East Sheen Primary  713 (411) – this school had an additional bulge class
Marshgate Primary 661 (989)
Sheen Mount Primary  885 (484)
Thomson House 893 (644)
The Vineyard Primary 755 (319)

Belleville Primary School – applicants living up to a distance of 238 (274) metres.
Brandlehow Primary School – this is another hidden gem of an outstanding, high performing school with a cut-off distance of 520 metres.
Honeywell Infant School – applicants living up to a distance of 182 (232) metres.
Wix School – Bilingual class of the Wix Primary School offered in cooperation with the French Lycee – 14 siblings admitted, no others! This school certainly wins the prize for London’s smallest catchment area of ZERO metres!

54 thoughts on “Starting Primary School in 2015: top London state school catchment areas”

  1. Mayura Chandekar

    Very informative website, any references with regards to east london
    We were considering Havering, Redbridge and Chelmsford areas.
    Any insight on good primary schools around here will be massive help!
    thank you

  2. Fantastic advice although a bit dated now – please do update!! Any comments on Melcombe Primary given that it seems to be the only Outstanding state school in the Fulham area?

  3. Hello,
    We are plannig to relocate to London by Nov 2016. Our daughter will turn 8 in October. My work location will be in East London. I am sure we have good schools in this area too. Can you suggest any areas / borough where I should look to find house, so that I can get admission to daughter.

  4. I am planning to move London, P5 son and daughter p1..which area can get definite good rated it Richmond?..any specific post codes we have to look for house to rent..

  5. We are looking at houses in the Friern Barnet area and the primary schools seem quite good. We have seen a house in the catchment of holly park but it seems to be out of the cut off distance. All other Barnet schools within 3 miles seem okay too but have tiny cut off distances. Where would kids in areas like this go? The next nearest school is in another borough, would we just be offered that one?

  6. Hi, I wonder if you could provide some advice on changing from a really good religious school to an academy school which results are very good too. The main factor is proximity to our home and also to support our child from certain kids that seem to be bulling her. Have you heard any experience about this? Our child seems to think that if she goes the religious school she will not feel like at home and does not want to change despite having been quite down as other kids refuse to play with her because they share different interests. Thank you

    1. I would usually not so much see this as an issue of switching from one type of school to another, but rather look at the two very specific schools in question and find out how good they are at pastoral care. Do you trust the Head and the teacher to deal with bullying effectively?

  7. Could you offer any advice on the best schools 3+ in the Hackney area. We live in hackney now and would ideally like to stay close to our friends and family, but won’t compromise or daughters education for this. Any options gratefully received!

  8. Thank you for your very useful work. Could you please mention the best schools in Wood Green area pls? Both state and independent if possible.Many thanks! Ramona

  9. Hi, this is very useful information. We live in Redbridge (woodford) which has many private and state schools. Could you advise on this area or add it to your list?

    1. the top performing primary schools in Brent tend to be either Jewish or Catholic and hence don’t admit based on distance. If you check the league tables, Wykeham and Sudbury Primary Schools would be the highest performing community primary schools.

  10. Hi

    I live in bromley and have recently moved closer to the Highield school which has had outstanding rating and is now converted to academy. But it’s not mentioned in your list. Any particular reason for that?

  11. Hi

    Your site and blogs are very useful. Could you please give me some feedback on Schools in Pinner, Harrow council.

    How do they compare to the London schools. We are currently looking to move and want to make sure we cover all possibilities.

    Thank you

  12. Hi there!

    We moved to north of london and really confused. How do we start to search good school? I mean We lost all this rules, I dont know how to begin that. Do I need to go to school or council?. We have 2 years old baby and someone says “waiting list” is so long. We will attempt to apply Rhodos Avenue School which is the best in Haringay, Could you give me any advise?


    1. if you are looking at state schools, you only apply the year before entry, so it is definitely not to late. For nursery applications, you will need to apply directly to the school (for example, Rhodes Avenue), then for Reception entry, you apply via Haringey council. Just go to the Haringey Council website and check the education / school admissions information. They publish a booklet about nursery education and another booklet about starting primary school. You are not to late to apply for state school.

  13. Hi, very helpful insights in all the articles I have read so far. Would it be possible for you to cover / compare private as well as state primary schools in Harrow?

  14. LookingforBursary


    Your website is really useful.

    Could you please add some details if any prep school offer bursary at entry point or 7+(year 3).

    Most of schools provide bursary from 11+ or 16+.

  15. Hi
    Please can you tell me a little about Marshgate in Richmond. Though locally I haves heard only good things about the school, there is no info on your site. Any guidance on the matter would be truely helpful.

    1. Hi there – it is one of the larger primary schools in Richmond with an intake of 90 children per year I think. Other than that, like you I have heard only good things but nothing specific!

  16. Regarding using the Singapore maths curriculum, Millfields Community School in Clapton (Hackney) uses it and my understanding is that is has been or is being rolled out across all Hackney schools.

  17. Hi!
    Portuguese family moving to London on June. We have 4 kids, one in nursery , 2 in primary and 1 in secondary.
    I would like to know if Is possible to live in Richmond (because of kids school) and work in Bloomsbury ? I am afraid because I don’t know if I will find a school for my kids in bloomsbury.

    Thank you very much !

    1. Hi – absolutely! You can take the train from Richmond into Waterloo or Clapham junction and switch to the tube to Bloomsbury. It would probably take you 45 minutes or so. An alternative would be moving to Islington which also has a few good state schools (though likely to be more oversubscribed!)

  18. Hi!

    Southfields grid and Wimbledon Park seem massively popular with young families but it seems the schools aren’t particularly outstanding (especially when compared to Richmond), and the catchments are tiny. Would appreciate your views and views from readers on here who know the area! Thanks!

  19. Thanks so much for sharing all this information, it is very helpful! We might be relocating to London for work this summer from America and this has given me a good place to start my research for schools. If you can add Clapham Commons to your list, I would love to see that added.
    Thanks much!

    1. Thank you, very helpful! I just sent an email to your consulting email address, I think I might need some additional help :).

  20. Hello

    Thanks for these wonderful advices. We are also torn between state/ independent as we are both my husband and I from abroad. We are moving to Brent any advice of good schools in the area? Thanks

    1. absolutely – I don’t think any of the schools there at the moment would match results of those mentioned here but you’re right it would make sense to add a few Hackney community schools!

  21. Hi,

    Firstly thanks for such a fantastic and useful website. I am currently looking into primary schools for my son and we are torn between state vs independent. We would like a school that is strong academically and can push our son forward. We are in position where we can potentially move homes so can go to an area where there are outstanding schools. But we do come from a Muslim background and I note most of the good schools are faith schools. What would you advise? If you encourage us to go state, which boroughs and schools do u recommend? And if independent which schools are more affordable but strong academically?

    I would be very grateful for your advise.


    1. Ama, any of the community primaries listed in this article would be excellent academically. If you are flexible I usually recommend people to move to Richmond where even excellent primaries aren’t always that oversubscribed. Wandsworth is quite good as well. Haringey primary schools are excellent as well.

  22. Just started some research into London primary schools…seems confusing and places seem hard to come by…we would be relocating mid school year from overseas….working in central London.

    The boys are 8, 6 and 3. We are open to where we live but ideally fairly close to work. Ideally we are looking for a “villagey” feel in a smallish good school for boys…seems children start school in the U.K earlier so the boys may be behind curriculum wise…where do we start? A good friendly school is our n.o 1 concern about the move.

  23. Hi, thank you so much for the very valuable research and opinions you provide. Would you have views on State Schools in Clapham, and in particular Clapham Manor Primary School? Many thanks!!

    1. hi there, for something so specific, have a look at the forum at, they have a very active forum just for mums in Wandsworth/Clapham/Battersea and you are sure to get detailed advice on the Clapham state schools there.

  24. Hi, we just rejected a school for my 4 years old son. He is already in pre school but they can keep him there till Eastern. And what they offered it was not what we asked for. We live in Leyton Waltham Forest. Can you advice? He is drawing very nice as well. ….

    1. Hi Kati, the advice is usually never to reject because then the council has no obligation to offer you an alternative. You should usually accept and then try to find a new place via waiting list.

  25. Hi, good job… Just to say I went to the Oratory Primary school when I was a kid, and it’s in Chelsea not South Kensington – also those summer boaters and winter berets were not that comfortable, though they may look nice!

    1. royalpriestess, fascinating, I guess that explains your username ;-). thanks for the hint, I had often seen Oratory pupils around Onslow Square and assumed the school is located in South Ken, but I see you are right, I will amend it!

  26. Hi, great info as usual. I was hoping if possible you do the same for Barnet as well i.e. Mill Hill, Finchley, Hampstead, Hendon.

    1. Dear Mary, the boroughs of Camden and Barnet have not published the information online yet, they will probably do so and I will add the info as soon as it is public! Watch this space :-).

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