Premium paid for houses near top state schools soars (with dearest and 'best value' top 10s)

In one case, houses can cost as much as an extra £500,000

Click to follow
The Independent Online

More than a million parents will be forced to negotiate a “minefield” as they seek school places for their children, a parents' leader has warned - with some prepared to pay a £500,000 "premium" on houses that are closest to the most desirable school.

The search for primary and secondary school places for more than 1.2m children for next September has just begun in earnest.

Many will be considering moving towards the catchment area of the best-performing schools in their neighbourhoods, while teachers warn that others may even resort to giving false addresses to secure places for their offspring.

The situation is exacerbated this year as the “baby boom” continues to find its way into primary schools, with local councils saying they expect an extra 130,000 primary school places will be needed over the next three years.

Margaret Morrissey, a spokeswoman for the parents’ action group Parents Outloud, said: “It is just a minefield. No government has really got hold of the issue and come up with a satisfactory solution to the problem.

Ms Morrissey cautioned against buying a house within the school’s catchment area, adding: “There’s no guarantee you will get a place at the school if it’s that oversubscribed.

“People are buying houses they probably would never have thought about living in, just to get the children into the right place to get into the right place,” she added.

Research by Lloyds Bank shows that homes near the best-performing schools can cost up to almost £500,000 more than the average for other properties in the neighbourhood. The school premium is highest at Beaconsfield High School in Buckinghamshire where parents have to fork out an extra £483,031 on average for a house in its catchment area.

However, there are some “bargains” to be had, where house prices near top schools are lower than elsewhere in the neighbourhood, most notably near Reading School in Berkshire, where parents can expect to pay £107,979 less on average than the surrounding area.

Head teachers’ leaders would like to see more emphasis placed on giving priority for places to children on free school meals.

That, argued Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, would put a halt to spiralling house prices and increase social mobility by helping get more disadvantaged pupils into the best schools.

Some academies are exploring the use of ballots or random selection for a proportion of places, again in an attempt to combat claims that only the rich can afford the house prices necessary to get into the best schools.

A report by the Sutton Trust, which campaigns for equal educational opportunities for all, argued for a more widespread use of this method.

Mr Hobby said the NAHT was considering asking the Government to make it obligatory for schools to give priority to those on free school meals, rather than just telling them they were free to make that decision.

However, Ms Morrissey does not think the idea would work.

“It could actually put more pressure on people to find houses even nearer the school, as there will be fewer children getting places through the catchment area,” she said.

Ten top performing schools with the highest premium on buying a house nearby

Catchment house average, Neighbourhood ave., Difference

1. Beaconsfield High School, Buckinghamshire:
£796,909, £313,878, £483,031

2. Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School, Buckinghamshire:
£497,936, £313,878, £184,058

3.  St Olave’s and St Saviour’s Grammar School, Kent:
£411,940, £259,260, £152,680        

4. Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School, West Midlands:
£299,012, £167,355, £131,656

5. Altrincham Grammar School for Girls, Cheshire:
£325, 957, £208,518, £117,439

6. Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, Lancashire:
£227,602 , £140,745, £86,857

7. Colyton Grammar School, Devon:
£270,945, £217,636, £53,309

8. Newport Girls’ High School, Shropshire:
£210,979, £187,548, £23,432

9. Nonsuch High School for Girls, Sutton:
£319,597, £296,217, £23,380

10. Wolverhampton Girls’ High School, West Midlands:
£187,550, £167,355, £20,195

Ten “best buys” where average house prices near top performing schools are lower than average for neighbourhood.

Catchment house average, Neighbourhood ave., Difference

1. Reading School, Berkshire:
£212,994, £320,973, -£107,979

2. The Latymer School, Enfield:
£218,846, £318,566,  -£99,721

3. Devonport High School for Girls, Devon:
£134,261, £217,636, -£83,375

4. Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet:
£428,257, £502,007, -£73,750

5. St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School, Barnet:
£433,673, £502,007, -£68,334

6. Heckmondwike Grammar School, West Yorkshire:
£99,063, £156,930, -£57,867

7. Sir Thomas Rich’s School, Gloucestershire:
£190,292, £238,098, -£47,806

8. Westcliff High School for Girls, Essex:
£206,437, £250,018, -£43,580

9. Stroud High School, Gloucestershire:
£216,376, £238,098, -£21,723

10. Rugby High School, Warwickshire:
£209,604, £230,407, -£20,802

Research by Lloyds Banking Group