Tatler publishes state schools guide for 'people like us'

'Wake up, world,' the magazine says. 'These days, most people like us can't necessarily afford to go private'

Adi Bloom

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Previous generations of Tatler readers would be rotating in their graves. If rotating in one’s grave were not a tad common. 

Tatler, the society magazine, is this month publishing its annual State Schools Guide. “Wake up, world,” the magazine’s spokespeople say, only slightly defensively. “These days, most ‘People Like Us’ a) can’t necessarily afford to send our children to private schools, and b) don’t necessarily want to.”

The February edition of the magazine, therefore, includes a list of more than 100 of the top primary and secondary state schools in the country.

“'My husband went to boarding school from the age of 8 and said the facilities at King James’s are better than anything he had,’ reports another mother,” according to the entry for King James’s School in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, one of Tatler’s top secondaries.

'Equally patronised'

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “I think state and independent schools will feel equally patronised. So, in terms of social mobility, that’s a good thing.

“It’s nice that Tatler now sees what so many teachers and parents have known for a long time: there are great schools, regardless of the system they’re in. Welcome to our world.”

The top-10 lists suggest that one of the reasons that Tatler readers may not be able to afford to send their children to fee-paying schools is because they have spent all their money on houses in some of the most desirable – and expensive – areas of the country.

So the top 10 primary schools include Barnes Primary School, in south-west London, of which Tatler says: “The catchment area ‘gets smaller every year’, warns one insider.” Similarly, Dulwich Hamlet Junior School, in the exclusive south-east London suburb, and Primrose Hill Primary School, in north-west London – alma mater of Boris Johnson and the Miliband brothers (“But don’t let that put you off,” the guide says) – are included.

And, in its entry for Great Tew Primary School, in Chipping Norton, the Cotswolds town where David Cameron and Rebekah Brooks famously have homes, the guide recommends asking parents about the shaking-the-champagne-bottle tradition.

'Outdated' comparisons with private schools

The top 20 secondary schools include Fortismere School in North London, known for its doorstep-scraping catchment area. “Not many states schools offer classics at A level, but this one does; the colleges (houses) are named Colosseum, Ephesus, Rhodes,” the guide states.

Similarly, Nonsuch High School for Girls, a grammar school in Cheam, Surrey, offers pupils Greek and astronomy, as well as a musician in residence.

Meanwhile, Chipping Campden School in Gloucestershire, named for the Cotswolds market town where it is located, is described by the guide as: “Established in 1440 (‘the same year as Eton,’ they proudly tell us).”

Mr Barton, however, suggests that parallels with independent schools are outdated. “What would be helpful is if we moved away from that binary,” he said. “Because our education system in England is so fragmented, there’s such a range of schools, whether academy, free school, religious school or grammar school.

“There will be a great school for your child. Go and find it, and then see if it’s independent or state. Education shouldn’t be about finances, but about quality and structure.”

The Tatler State Schools Guide 2018 is included in the February edition of Tatler, on sale from Thursday this week.

Top schools

Tatler's top state primary schools are: 

Barnes Primary School, south-west London

Dulwich Hamlet Junior School, south-east London

Sir John Cass's Foundation Primary School, City of London

Primrose Hill Primary School, north-west London

Great Tew Primary School, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire

Cradley CofE Primary School, Herefordshire

Slade Primary School, Tonbridge, Kent

St Martin at Shouldham CofE Voluntary-Aided Primary Academy, King's Lynn, Norfolk

Delamere CE Primary Academy, Tarporley, Cheshire

St Mary's RC Primary School, Haddington, East Lothian


Tatler's top state secondary schools are: 

Fortismere School, North London

Harris Westminster Sixth Form, south-west London

Lady Margaret School, south-west London

Twyford CofE High School, West London

Nonsuch High School for Girls, Cheam, Surrey

Wilson's School, Wallington, south-west London

Peter Symonds College, Winchester, Hampshire

Beaumont School, St Albans, Hertfordshire

Langtree School, Reading, Berkshire

Chesham Grammar School, Chesham, Buckinghamshire

Mullion School, Helston, Cornwall

Chipping Campden School, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire

Thomas Hardye School, Dorchester, Dorset

Wymondham High Academy, Wymondham, Norfolk

The Chantry School, Martley, Worcestershire

Durham Johnston School, Co Durham

Arden Academy, Solihull, West Midlands

King James's School, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire 

Earlston High School, Earlston, Scottish Borders

North Berwick High School, North Berwick, East Lothian

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Adi Bloom

Adi Bloom is Tes comment editor

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