Wooler named as one of top 20 places in England and Wales for families

Wooler in Northumberland has been named the 11th best place for families to live - with Newcastle and Sunderland featuring in the city list

Alfreda Hindmarsh of Wooler relaxes at Wooler Common
Alfreda Hindmarsh of Wooler relaxes at Wooler Common

A Northumberland town has been named the eleventh best place in England and Wales for families to live.

Wooler, half way between Alnwick and Berwick, has been given the accolade in a study which looked at crime rate, wages, property prices, standard of childcare and performance of schools.

The research was carried out by family finance company Family Investments and sought to find the 20 most affordable and desirable places for families to live in England and Wales.

In the Family Hotspots Report 2014, Wooler schoolchildren were found to have an average point score of 29.70 in key stage two English and maths, while 25% of childcare was deemed outstanding by Ofsted.

Wooler was said to have a crime rate of 0.25 per resident and an average price for a two bedroom property of £110,052. The average annual salary of residents was £19,640 while the percentage of that average salary spent on childcare was 20.6%.

Overall Wooler scored 21.27 out of 30.

The report says: “Nestled high on the edge of Northumberland National Park and the Cheviot Hills, the picture postcard Wooler is a small, stone-built market town of 2,000 people.

Wooler in Northumberland
Wooler in Northumberland
 

“Known as a hotspot for outdoor activities, Wooler boasts a range of family friendly activities and amenities including a local haunted castle and light railway.

“The high street boasts lots of independent shops while for sporting parents there is the local golf club, running club and annual Wooler Wheel cycling races around the town and surrounding hills.

“The local primary and middle schools rate well on Key Stage 2 scores and early years facilities are above average as well.

“Property prices are far below the national average with a two bed home costing an average of £110,000, though average salaries are likewise lower than elsewhere.”

Alfreda Hindmarsh moved to Wooler with her family in 1981 and is a member of its parish council - as well as its representative on Glendale Gateway Trust, Roddam WI and Co-Ordinating for Age.

She said: “We were really surprised when the results came through. But also really pleased that Wooler has been acknowledged because it is not often that Wooler gets praise from anyone.

Wooler in Northumberland
Wooler in Northumberland
 

“A lot goes on here but we do not get acknowledged for it. It is a very community spirited village/town. And a lot goes on for charity.”

Coun Hindmarsh told how a coffee morning is held in the town all but three Saturdays of the year, with these always raising in excess of £300 for a charity or local group.

“For a small community to raise that sort of money is really good.”

Similarly Wooler’s annual carol service raises funds for good causes.

Meanwhile, Newcastle and Sunderland are both listed in Family Investment’s top ten cities. Newcastle came in fourth with an average English and maths key stage two point score of 28.3, 17% of childcare ranked outstanding, 0.3 crimes per resident, average two bedroom house price of £107,321, an average salary of £20,426 and 25.8% of that average spent on childcare. Additionally, 48.4% of key stage four age children achieved grades A* to C in English and maths.

Sunderland came ninth with an average English and maths key stage two point score of 28.1, 13.8% of childcare ranked outstanding, 0.53 crimes per resident, average two bedroom house price of £86,579, an average salary of £19,193 and 26.6% of that average spent on childcare. 53.3% of key stage four age children achieved grades A* to C in English and maths.

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