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Good Schools Guide reveals Hampstead beats South Kensington for most ‘good schools’ north of River Thames

PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 November 2014

Mark Beard, headteacher of certified 'good school' UCS, was not surprised to hear Hampstead is home to largest number of best schools. Picture: Dieter Perry

Mark Beard, headteacher of certified 'good school' UCS, was not surprised to hear Hampstead is home to largest number of best schools. Picture: Dieter Perry

Dieter Perry

Hampstead has the largest number of “good schools” of any area north of the River Thames beating rival postcodes such as South Kensington, according to the annual Good Schools Guide.

Sam White, headteacher of William Ellis School, was thrilled his school was included in the guide. Picture: Nigel SuttonSam White, headteacher of William Ellis School, was thrilled his school was included in the guide. Picture: Nigel Sutton

The guide has recommended 19 NW3 schools in its new London North volume published this month, which contains reviews of more than 200 institutions across an area stretching from Richmond-upon-Thames in the west, to Enfield in the north and to Havering in the east.

Nine more schools in NW3 won approval from the guide than in affluent South Kensington, SW7, which contains the second highest number of recommended schools north of the River Thames.

All of the listed Hampstead schools are independents. Twelve are junior or prep schools and seven are secondaries - including South Hampstead High School in Maresfield Gardens, Fine Arts College in England’s Lane and University College School (UCS) in Frognal.

Of UCS, famed for its liberal ethos, the guide stated: “Achieves impressive exam results with a relaxed atmosphere. An ex-pupil insists that we describe it as ‘the top liberal public school’.”

UCS headteacher Mark Beard explained why Hampstead is home to so many top schools. He said: “The density of population who value education in north London means a lot of schools are needed.

“Good schools will develop unique selling points which differentiate them in some way from their competitors.

“This creates a natural and healthy competition resulting in a high standard of teaching, learning and facilities, or else schools get left behind.”

It is the first year the Good Schools Guide has launched two volumes dedicated to reviewing the capital’s best schools - one for those on the north bank of the river and one for those on the south bank.

A record number of state schools made it into the guide this year, with Camden’s comprehensives receiving high praise.

Camden School for Girls in Kentish Town was described as the borough’s “most famous and popular school”, while all-boys William Ellis School in Dartmouth Park, was said to be “emerging from the doldrums under a strong, popular, enthusiastic head”.

Of Hampstead School, in Cricklewood, the guide praised headteacher Jacques Szemalikowski’s vision and described it as a “melting pot of culture and diversity”.

William Ellis headteacher Sam White applauded the high number of state schools listed in the volume.

He said: “I think it’s important that there is a full range of schools that can be included because it allows parents to see the range of choices on offer and to make an informed decision.”

Holy Trinity and St Silas CofE Primary School, in Camden Town, is Camden’s only state primary to make it into the guide.

It received a glowing write-up hailing the school’s “exceptional” former headteacher Annie Williams, who died suddenly in December 2012.

Perhaps surprisingly, over-subscribed Eleanor Palmer Primary School in Kentish Town missed out on a spot but received a mention in the guide’s introduction to the borough, along with New End, Torriano, Fleet, Brookfield and Kingsgate primaries.

Andrew Baisley, branch secretary of Camden National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: “I think it’s very impressive that schools who have many more challenges are being recognised for performing so well.”

In Haringey, five Highgate schools won a place in the guide, including all-girls Channing School in Highgate Hill, Highgate School in North Road, and St Michael’s CofE Primary School in North Road.

Of St Michael’s, the guide said: “One of north London’s most sought-after primary schools, St Michael’s has high academic standards.”

In Barnet, top grammar school Henrietta Barnett, in Hampstead Garden Suburb, and King Alfred School, in Golders Green, both have entries.

The Good Schools Guide London North is available online and at bookshops.

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