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Scottish island life tops survey of best place for children in the UK

by Ray Clancy on August 31, 2015

When expats with families move to the UK they tend to settle in London and other big cities but if they want a better quality of life then research suggests they should look to Scotland.

But not just any part of Scotland, it is the Orkneys, Shetlands and the Western Isles that come top in a new survey of the best places for children’s quality of life in the UK.

Orkney is home to 21,570 people and has just 19 inhabited islands but it tops the Halifax Children’s Quality of Life Survey based on a wide range of factors, including, low primary school class size, high school spending per pupil, low population density, and little traffic.

Adults living in the Orkneys are likely to be in employment and rate their own personal wellbeing as very high while in second place is the Shetland Isles to the north of Orkney and then the Western Isles off the North West coast of Scotland.

Winchester comes fourth, followed by Eden in the north west of England, Crave and Ryedale in Yorkshire and Humber, then Staffordshire in the West Midlands, Huntingdonshire in the east of England and Northamptonshire in the East Midlands.

In Orkney both the average primary school class size at 18 and the pupil to teacher ratio in secondary schools at 8.8 are among the lowest in Britain and the average school spend of £9,000 per pupil is one of the highest in the survey, almost twice the national average of £4,560

Orkney has one of the lowest population densities in Britain with just 22 people per square kilometre compared to a national average of 274 and road traffic is much lighter than in most other areas with just 139 vehicles per square kilometre, compared to 9,459 in Britain as a whole

But one of the downsides of living in Orkney is slow broadband connections. Just 56% of households have access to fast broadband, significantly below the national average of 86%.

‘While the Orkney Islands take the top spot in the 2015 Halifax Children’s Quality of Life survey, the story is as much about Scotland with the Shetlands and Western Isles also making up the top three positions,’ said Martin Ellis, Halifax economist.

‘Children in these areas benefit from low primary school class sizes, low pupil to teacher ratio in secondary schools, excellent exam results and some of the highest school spend per pupil,’ he explained.

‘The best places outside Scotland are where children are brought up in an environment of high employment and where adults rate their personal wellbeing as high which bodes well for their upbringing,’ he added.

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