Surrey is a county of contrasts. Only a short journey from London, it also offers a quick escape into peaceful countryside. This pleasant environment is combined with transport links that include the M3, M23 and M25 motorways, road and rail to London, and easy access to Gatwick and Heathrow airports.
In spite of a population of just over a million in a comparatively small area of 650 square miles, 80% of the county is farmland, woods, heath and open land. Although Surrey is a wealthy county, there are areas of relative poverty, particularly around some of the larger towns and a number of schools have pupils with a wide diversity of nationalities, cultures and languages.
There have recently been several major town centre redevelopments in Surrey. In the field of education and research, centres include Royal Holloway University (London) at Egham and Surrey University at Guildford. New research related technologies are also represented at Surrey University's research park and many multinational companies continue to relocate from London to Surrey.
In Surrey there is a need to balance environmental conservation with the requirement for more homes, roads and commercial development.
For teachers in schools interested in green issues, Surrey County Council promotes environmental awareness with a wide range of initiatives to develop pupils' knowledge and experience.
Tourism and leisure
Surrey provides a wealth of contrasting leisure activities. Among the historic sites are Hampton Court Palace and Runnymede, as well as National Trust properties such as Clandon and Polesden Lacey. Other attractions include picturesque villages, gardens, such as Wisley, racecourses and river trips. Surrey also has seven major arts venues.
Sports centres are also plentiful, among them the Spectrum Centre in Guildford, probably the most exciting leisure complex in the UK. Other first-class facilities are available in Camberley, Egham, Lingfield and Oxted.
For cyclists and walkers there is an extensive network of footpaths, bridleways and cycle routes and Surrey also boasts high-quality shopping malls, particularly in Kingston, Guildford and Camberley.
The Visit Surrey tourism website gives comprehensive information about all these leisure activities.
Surrey has good road and rail links to London, Gatwick and Heathrow airports.