With migration patterns showing that people are continuing to leave London in favour of a new life in the English regions, Park School in Bournemouth has seen this trend reflected in the number of enquiries received from families seeking a better work-life balance.
Over the past two years, the outstanding independent school situated just a mile from the coast, has reported a noticeable increase in admissions enquiries that have been triggered by the global pandemic.
The Covid-19 crisis marked the point at which a mass exodus from the City began as demand across the housing market outside of London rocketed. Prices have increased across the country by 18% compared to just 6% in London since the first lockdown in March 2020. Last year, those relocating from London bought 92,000 dwellings elsewhere, up 59% on the previous year.
Park School’s statistics reflect this situation, showing that one in every five enquiries are now coming from prospective parents who state they are considering their options at present. Many cite hybrid working practices as a reason for assessing how a full or partial relocation to the coastal resort town might work in practice.
Many of the admissions enquiries have been from families currently living and working in London, particularly in the more affluent areas on the western side of the capital. These include families from Teddington, Mill Hill, Hillingdon and Richmond Upon Thames. In the early phase of the pandemic, a smaller proportion were also coming from those based in the West Midlands and from Surrey.
Seven children and their families have now made the move to Park School permanently, having upped sticks and moved away from the big smoke to fulfil their dreams of living life in more tranquil surroundings and away from the hustle and bustle of urban centres.
Melanie Dowler, Head teacher at Park School, explained: “The London exodus has seen many hard-working families opt for cheaper locations outside of the capital where they can get better value for money, with bigger houses and more space.
“With an ever-increasing focus on mental health too, there is also now a far greater emphasis being placed on living and working in an area that stimulates a greater sense of wellbeing.
“Bournemouth is a modern and forward-thinking place that’s brimming with opportunity. People thrive here because there is so much on offer, and the coastal location delivers a sense of calm perspective in the midst of hectic, everyday routines.
“The area provides the perfect blend of culture and heritage which complements the broader innovation and business enterprise within our local economy, and that’s something we know people value immensely when looking for the right location in which to raise a family.
“For Park School, being a part of this vibrant community is very much reflected in our diverse curriculum, which aims to nurture those all-important life skills in our children as well as their talents and academic excellence.
“We firmly believe that our location offers a fantastic quality of life, and that our own educational offering is a firm favourite for potential parents who are looking to swap their metropolitan environments with more natural surroundings and different pace of life.”
Research continues to endorse these conclusions, with 416,000 and 300,000 people having reported their wish to leave the capital during 2020 and 2021 respectively, mainly due to greater home-working flexibilities. This could lead to a decline in London’s population for the first time this century.
And although urban living has much to offer in terms of delivering a ‘buzz’ and an excitement that is intertwined with stunning skylines, a rich social scene, and a greater sense of connectivity, there is a fine line to balance in ensuring it does not become oppressive or stressful.
People residing in London are far more likely to experience poor mental health than someone living outside the capital, yet just five minutes of exercise in outdoor green or blue spaces has been proven to boost mental wellbeing. Outdoor learning is something that Park School prides itself on, and that is proving ever-more popular with its current and prospective parents.
Mrs Dowler added: “No school in London can boast of offering their pupils a beach school, which is something Park School is immensely proud to have recently launched. We are one of only two educational facilities in Dorset currently offering this unique and hands-on shoreline learning experience to our pupils.
“They are able to take part in a whole range of activities, including beach safety, nature scavenger hunts, raft-making, reading the tides and much, much more. Bournemouth’s beaches really do offer our children a place that will enrich their overall growth and development, improving their knowledge, practical skills and connecting them with nature.
“We are passionate about enabling our youngsters to appreciate the many different aspects of the coastline which they previously may not have thought about or experienced, and we are absolutely delighted that our location, as well as our overall values and ethos is attracting more pupils from further afield to come and be a part of our wonderful school community.”
Park School is open to children aged from 3 months all the way up to 11 years and has a strong reputation as a small, friendly, and family-orientated school with 300 pupils. The students, parents and staff all work together as a collective to ensure everyone thrives and can be the best they can be. To find out more or to arrange a visit, go to www.parkschool.co.uk .