Rub shoulders with the rich in capital's royal borough

1st June 2001 at 01:00
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea?

Yes - where "sex" is something the coal arrives in and a "cr che" is a prang in the Mercedes.

You really can't beat the old jokes.

Sorry. But the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is a bit posh, though. It is home to Knightsbridge, Kensington Palace, and Holland Park. Uniquely among UK authorities, more than half of its 21,000 school-age children go to independent schools.

Because of poor state schools?

No, rich residents. Many choose private schools over the borough's schools because they can. This is a shame because Kensington and Chelsea actually has very good schools. According to the Office for Standards in Education, they provide a high-quality of education with a much higher proportion of good teaching than is found nationally.

Alongside great wealth, the borough also has areas of inner-city deprivation. Unemployment is higher than the national average and twice the average number of pupils are entitled to free school meals.

It is very culturally diverse: 46 per cent of pupils in the local education authority's schools come from ethnic minorities, with 100 different languages spoken.

"From a teaching perspective, it is both challenging and demanding," says the local education authority.

What is the LEA like?

Kensington and Chelsea came out very favourably in its inspection by OFSTED last year. It was praised for the "systematic and businesslike way" it has run its education service. The counil's 10-year campaign to improve its schools has been outstandingly well managed and schools are well resourced, it said.

There are four LEA-maintained nursery schools, 29 primaries, four secondary schools, one special school, a hospital school and a pupil referral unit.

Are there many jobs going?

Yes. Like other London boroughs, the LEA needs teachers, particularly in maths, science, design and technology and music.

The LEA cites an interesting benefits package for its primary teachers, which varies from school to school. This can include a bicycle grant, bus and Tube travel cards, an interest-free loan and, curiously, free entry to the borough's swimming pools.

There are some inevitable attractions: you are in central London, the parks are free and you can watch wealthier people than you shop in Knightsbridge. And the Science, Natural History and Victoria and Albert museums make for some rather fine teaching resources.

But where am I going to live?

Er ... not in Kensington and Chelsea. Even in its cheaper corners a three-bedroom terraced house starts at around pound;600,000. A one-bedroom flat in Notting Hill would go for just under pound;300,000. At the higher end, prices run into the millions, even just for a flat.

The LEA is involved in a London-wide initiative looking at affordable housing for key workers.

Any famous sonsdaughters?

Far too many. Good for writers, though - including George Eliot, GK Chesterton and William Makepeace Thackeray.

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