Ever thought about working as a teacher in West London’s largest and westernmost borough? With its upbeat motto ‘Forward’ (taken from the ancient Hayes and Harlington coat of arms), Hillingdon is also London’s second-largest borough by area. Surprisingly, though, it’s also London’s second least densely populated – which is largely because much of its northern reaches are fairly rural. It’s also because a great deal of its area is occupied by the 12.14km2 of Heathrow Airport, around which the borough packs in the towns of Hayes, Ruislip, Northwood, West Drayton and Uxbridge.
Its location on London’s western fringes obviously means Hillingdon’s very well-connected by road, with the M40, M4, M3 and M25 all close at hand, providing conduits to the southwest, the west and right into the heart of the capital. It’s also very well-served by public transport, with 10 National Rail stations and nine London Underground stations. There’s no denying, though, that the borough’s transport links – and indeed economy – are dominated by the presence of Europe’s busiest and the world’s second-busiest airport in terms of passenger numbers. Indeed, it was the extension of the Metropolitan Line in the early 20th Century that caused huge expansion in the borough’s residential areas. Heathrow Airport has always been something of a magnet for international business: British Airways, Cadbury Schweppes and many other global giants have their headquarters in the borough.
With no fewer than 68 state primary schools, 22 state secondary schools and nine special and alternative schools, in addition to ten independent schools of various types, the borough’s very well-served for schools. This is in no small part due to the largest school expansion programme in all of London – the aim being to ensure that all the borough’s children can go to a school close to where they live. It’s safe to say, therefore, that this makes for a plentiful supply of teaching career opportunities.
The presence of Heathrow Airport may conjure up images of crowds, traffic and constant noise – but that really isn’t a complete or accurate impression of life in Hillingdon.
The borough’s location at London’s western edge makes much of it refreshingly rural in character, with more than 200 green spaces covering some 730 hectares, largely within the Metropolitan Green Belt. Among those spaces are the Colne Valley Regional Park in the north, Lake Farm Country Park in the south and the waterside attractions of the Grand Union Canal and its former feeder reservoir Ruislip Lido, which is now a recreational lido. The outdoor life is further provided for by no fewer than seven non-league football clubs and the Hillingdon Outdoor Activity Centre, which is home to sailing, canoeing, rowing, and angling clubs.
Of course, as you’d expect from a London borough, it’s not all outdoors… The borough itself is the proud owner of four theatres, including the Open Air Theatre in Barra Hall Park, Hayes. Unsurprisingly, given the borough’s association with aviation, a major local attraction is the Battle of Britain Bunker Exhibition and Visitor Centre. As well as a wealth of pubs and restaurants covering pretty much all varieties of international cuisine, the borough also boasts a thriving live music scene at venues such as Uxbridge Folk Club and Tropic at Ruislip.