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Secret London bargains

london bargains

Melanie Butler finds great value schools outside the city centre

Outside Central London there is a clear correlation between price and quality – though that doesn’t mean the most expensive schools are necessarily the best. It simply means that all the top value schools cost between £13 and £21 pounds an hour, a much narrower price range than in Central London.

The best value school in our chart, the Wimbledon School of English, is one of only two schools in the UK to ever achieve a perfect score on inspection and, the first school ever to do it twice in a row. All that for £16 an hour. How do they do it? Turn to the interview section to find out.

Wimbledon, of course, is the quintessential English village, known for its historic houses, huge green common and, of course, its tennis club. It is home not only to the best school in London but two other good value schools.

The London villages dominate this value chart, with British Study Centres Hampstead leading a group of the three neighbouring North London gems: Hampstead, Highgate and, the home of Excel English, Muswell Hill.

Twin English Centre is the only one of the growing number of schools setting up in the historic river port of Greenwich to make it above the value line, while KKCL is the only one in leafy north-west Greenwich. To the west, in Chiswick, is a branch of London School of English, and the village branch of Eurocentres is located in the grounds of Eltham Palace.

Standing alone for value in Zone 2 is our old friend TTi – the long-established student favourite in Camden Town. Most of the other schools in the inner-city student centres are new and very cheap but simply not of the quality found in some of the lower-priced schools in the centre.

This should come as no surprise – only one of the top 20 language schools in England, based on their inspection results, is under 40 years-old. The truth of the matter, when it comes to British education, is that older is nearly always better. The London School of English, for example, is more than a century old.

Our secret gem, though, is relatively new. The branch of Oxford House College, Richmond, may come seventh in our overall table, but it has one huge secret weapon: its location.

It is the only accredited school in Richmond, the richest and most liberal borough in England and home, according to a friend of mine who used to run a summer school there, to some of the best host families in the capital.

Best value schools outside Central London

1. Wimbledon School of English
2. Eurocentres Eltham
3. BSC Hampstead
4. London School of English
5. St Giles Highate
6. Excel English Muswell Hill
= 7 Oxford House Richmond, LSI Hampstead
9. Twin English Centre, Greenwich
10. TTI Camden Town