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Searching for paradise? Catch a ferry and choose an island


THE Scottish Highlands and Islands have topped a study ranking the 50 best places in Britain to bring up children.

The annual quality of life index from the Halifax revealed that the Orkney Islands and Shetland retain the two top spots they occupied in last year’s study.

Meanwhile the Western Isles have been knocked down to fourth place by new entrant Craven in Yorkshire and Humber.

Russell Galley, managing director of Halifax, said: “Measuring the best quality of life for children covers a range of factors including class size, spending per pupil and academic results. Kids in the top-ranked places will often be surrounded by a greater proportion of adults in full-time employment who also consider themselves to be happy.

“Different areas have aspects that appeal to parents’ individual preferences – where some may consider employment levels and class sizes, others may be more drawn to exam results or amenities in an area itself.”

The northern tip of the Scottish islands ranks well in the list due to the primary school class size of 17.3 and pupil to teacher ratio in secondary schools of 13.4 in the Western Islands – the lowest in Britain.

It compares to an average primary school size nationwide of 27 and a pupil to teacher ratio nationwide of 20.9.

The three Scottish islands also see children being able to walk about in relative freedom, with an average of 81 vehicles per square kilometre in the Western Islands, 147 in the Orkneys and 150 in the Shetlands, compared to 9,729 in Britain.

But there’s bad news for kids who like online games, with only between 71% and 86% of households having access to fast broadband – well below the national average of 94%.

Along with the three groups of Scottish islands, a further 10 places in the top 50 are in Scotland, including the Highlands, Perth and Kinross, Argyle and Bute, Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders.