Parents pay half a million in housing premium for state school education

Wealthy parents are inflating property prices in areas surrounding good state schools, pushing poorer families out

Poorer children are being priced out of the best state schools because wealthier parents are paying a property ‘premium’ of up to half a million pounds for houses in school catchment areas.

While state education is supposed to be free and equally accessible to all, new research by Lloyds Bank highlights how people buy their way into certain areas in a bid to get their children into the most sought-after schools.

Parents pay an average of £21,000 extra compared to average property prices in neighbouring areas, if they want to live in the same postcode as a top 30 state secondary school in England, the report found.

The postcode for Beaconsfield High School in Buckinghamshire attracted the biggest premium – with people paying £483,031 more than the average asking price for nearby properties.

Every pupil at the school got five or more A* to C grades in their English and maths GCSEs last year [2013] – far above the national average of less than two in three schoolchildren.

The property ‘premium’ for living close to Beaconsfield High School is part of a wider national picture across England, according to the analysis of government statistics of exam results and property prices in the post codes of the 30 top performing state secondary schools.

The data, released today, also highlights vast differences across the country. Demand for homes varies and is affected by factors such as the supply of good schools in the area, employment and the relative wealth of local people.

Half of England's top 30 state schools are in places where the average property price is lower than nearby areas. Homes in the postal district of Heckmondwike Grammar School, Kirklees, are the least expensive at £99,063 – compared to the average of £156,930 in neighbouring areas.

But the Lloyds Bank study warns: “Those on average earnings are finding it difficult to purchase a property close to many of the best state schools.”

This comes amid growing concern over the way in which wealthier families are exploiting the state school system to their advantage. 

Being able to pay inflated prices to live in a catchment area is just one tactic used by middle class parents seeking to get the best state school places and save a small fortune in private school fees.

Other tactics used include buying or renting second homes and using the new addresses to apply for a place, and paying for private tuition to help their children pass 11-plus exams to get into state grammar schools.

Conor Ryan, director of research at education charity the Sutton Trust, said: “This research confirms that access to the best state schools is too often linked to family income ... where comprehensive schools prioritise proximity in admissions, they close off access to many who can't afford the high house prices.”

He called on schools to adopt “fairer admissions policies” and consider “random allocation”, giving priority to pupils from poorer families, as part of their admissions policy.

State comprehensives with the best GCSE results give places to half as many children eligible for free school meals as the average school. When it comes to state grammar schools, pupils from private schools are four times more likely to win a place than those on free school meals according to research by the Sutton Trust. Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw described grammar schools as being “stuffed full of middle class kids” last December.

In a bid “to support social mobility” in state education, the government announced new proposals last month to allow school admission authorities “to give priority for school places to disadvantaged children.” In return, schools would get a ‘pupil premium’ worth £1,300 for primary pupils and £935 for secondary schoolchildren.

In a statement, a Department for Education spokesperson claimed: “children now have their best ever chance to study in a good or outstanding school” and added: “We are increasing the number of good places by tackling underperformance and opening new schools in areas of need.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

WORLDbytes: Two-Day Intensive Camera training and Shoot: Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th March

expenses on shoots: WORLDbytes: Volunteering with a media based charity,for a ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 4 Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A school in Tameside is currently l...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £70 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are currently looking for ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower