House for sale: five-bedroom house in Warren Road, £750, 000, Alan de Maid (0168 981 4544).
HAMPSTEAD, NORTH LONDON
The place: prime educational real estate with millionaires' rows laid out around charming twisted hilltop streets. "It attracts families whose kids want to walk to school rather than be seen being dropped off by the limousine, " says Trevor Abrahmsohn of Glentree estate agents.
The schools: Henrietta Barnett School (girls); Queen Elizabeth's School (boys) at Barnet.
House for sale: three-bedroom Grade II listed cottage on Hampstead Way, £895, 000, Glentree (020 8458 7311).
The place: commuter hotspot (35 minutes to Liverpool Street by train), close to the atmospheric Crouch and Blackwater estuaries. "These very competitive grammar schools have just changed the rules so you now have to live within 12½ miles to apply, " says Mark Davies of Strutt & Parker.
The schools: Chelmsford County High for Girls; King Edward VI Grammar (boys, mixed in sixth).
House for sale: four-bedroom Seventies house in Maltese Road at £725, 000, Strutt & Parker (00).
The place: "This is very plush commuter belt south of Manchester, where an awful lot of people move for the schools, " says Anthony Jevons of Jackson-Stops & Staff. "Some even start planning at birth to get their children into the right primary schools and know exactly which streets they want to be in." Trains and the metro link deliver commuters in half an hour. Nearby Hale has fashionable boutiques and restaurants.
The schools: Altrincham (girls); Altrincham Grammar School for Boys.
House for sale: five-bedroom family house called Edgemoor, in Hale, at £1.495 million, Jackson-Stops & Staff (0161 928 8881).
KINGSTON-UPON-THAMES, SOUTH LONDON
The place: on the River Thames with Hampton Court across the bridge, full of bars and restaurants, a charming village within London. "Competition for school entry is incredibly tough, with around 140 admissions each year, and we understand the schools typically receive in excess of 10 applications for every place, " says James Morrison of Savills. "We certainly have buyers who specifically move to the area to be near the school gates."
The schools: The Tiffin (girls), Tiffin School (boys).
House for sale: six-bedroom house in Manorgate Road at the foot of Kingston Hill, £1.525 million, Savills (020 8971 8111).
The place: another commuter favourite (50 minutes by train to Liverpool Street), close to the lovely Stour and Colne estuaries, perfect Swallows and Amazons country. "We used to have the dealers from Canary Wharf moving out to buy, but now it is the professionals, " says Schuyler Pratt of Jackson-Stops & Staff. "If their children are bright enough they don't want to pay for education unless they have to. Everyone wants the best for their child."
The schools: Colchester Royal Grammar (boys, mixed in sixth); Colchester County High School for Girls.
House for sale: period five-bedroom Grade II listed house in Lexden Road conservation area, with walled garden, at £895, 000, Jackson-Stops & Staff (68) and Fenn Wright Signature (07).
The place: "Schools are the main reason for moving here, together with the good commute into London Bridge and Charing Cross, " says Jill Mitchenall of Jackson-Stops & Staff. The town is dominated by Tonbridge School, the boys' public school, and doesn't offer as much fun and upmarket shopping as nearby Tunbridge Wells, but the commute is faster and more reliable.
The schools: The Judd (girls, mixed in sixth); Tunbridge Wells Girls' Grammar.
House for sale: Springwood Cottage, down a private road by the lovely Dene Park estate, with four bedrooms and a playroom, £800, 000, Jackson-Stops & Staff (00).
The place: edge-of-the-Cotswolds spa town with arts festivals, racecourse, smart shops and restaurants, and lovely Regency houses. "If people can get a child into Pate's Grammar then it is fantastic, " says Julian Archard of Savills, "but it depends on exam success. If the siblings can't all get in, there are private alternatives such as Cheltenham College, Cheltenham Ladies' College and Dean Close."
The school: Pate's Grammar (mixed).
House for sale: Lanesfield House, Lansdown Road, with seven bedrooms, gym and flat, £1.595 million, Savills (00).
The place: good for commuting into London, access to Heathrow airport and picturesque Thameside villages, a centre for information technology and insurance.
The schools: Kendrick School (girls); Reading School (boys).
House for sale: Benhams Cottage, with three bedrooms at Burghfield Common, just outside Reading, £699, 950, Hamptons International (07).
COLYTON, EAST DEVON
The place: pretty little town in the Axe valley on the River Coly, with narrow streets, an ancient market place and the sea close by. "Parents will even fly their children in from afar to take the entrance exam, and once they get a place come to rent or consider buying, " says Pam Zoeller of Stags. "But there is no guarantee they take siblings, so it is a big decision to make."
Interesting facts:Northwood School, formerly known as Potter Street, is an academy school of about 500 students, ages 11 to 19, located in the northern part of the London Borough of Hillingdon.
The school was opened in 1934 as "Metro-land" expanded. This was the suburban belt build...