Full steam ahead to Roman spa

17th November 2000 at 00:00
Ah, Bath - hot springs and glorious Georgian architecture!

Indeed. The Romans were attracted by the area's natural hot springs: they built the town of Aquae Sulis, dedicated to the goddess of wisdom. In the 18th century, the wealthy were attracted by the supposed healing properties of the spa waters.

So, is it a hot spot for teachers?

Not as much as it should be.

Now let me guess: house prices.

Got it in one. Last year Bath had some of the highest property price rises in the country.

The city centre has fine terraced houses, but they can cost between pound;250,000 and pound;400,000. A one-bedroom flat in the Royal Crescent would set you back pound;200,000.

But hope springs eternal. The area covered by Bath and North East Somerset education authority is one of considerable contrasts, from the well-heeled city of Bath to more affordable areas such as Midsomer Norton, where a three-bedroom semi-detached house costs between pound;80,000 and pound;120,000.

Lots of jobs?

Yes, quite a few bubbling up. The authority has 87 schools: 69 primaries, 13 secondary and five special schools. In the secondary schools there are the usual shortages of maths, science and modern languages teachers.

Bath and North East Somerset became a unitary authority in 1996 and has just had its first inspection by the Office for Standards in Educatio, which generally praised it. However, its information and communications technology provision and the crappy (not OFSTED's terminology) state of many school buildings did land it in hot water.

You can stop the hot springs puns now.

Sorry. Anyway, Bath's schools rank just above national average for GCSE results, but just below average for A-levels. As befits a city of Bath's cultural standing, the authority gives good support to music, and schools do well in the visual arts.

What is Bath like for letting off steam?

Now you're at it!

Bath is a fantastic place to live and work. There is the aforementioned architecture - the city centre has the Pump Room, the impressive Royal Crescent and a fine abbey - lots of parks, a great shopping centre and many, many tourists.

The city offers a splendid night life, with an assortment of restaurants, wine bars, pubs, clubs and music venues. Oh, and there's the Theatre Royal, one of Britain's oldest theatres and point of call for many pre-West End plays and shows.

Any famous sons, daughters or residents?

Eighteenth-century impresario Richard "Beau" Nash, rock star Peter Gabriel, clarinettist Acker Bilk, actor Anthony Head (formerly of coffee commercials, now made good in Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and children's author Dick King-Smith.

Martin Whittaker


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