A new study has shown that parents in England are prepared to pay a considerable premium if they want to live near a top state secondary school.
The report showed that homes near the best secondary schools command an average house price of £415,844, adding 45pc to the English average.
The data from Lloyds Bank reveals that over the past five years, the average property price in areas with a top-performing state school has grown by £116,696 (39pc), compared to a rise of £51,264 (22pc) across England.
Rental prices are similarly affected by the location of secondary schools.
The study noted how this can impact on the social mix of those state schools, stating “The popularity of areas close to high performing schools may mean that homes remain unaffordable for buyers on average earnings.”
Many families do make house buying decisions without fully understanding their preferred school’s admissions criteria. For example, a selective grammar school or faith school will view the location of the house as a less important consideration than academic ability or church attendance when admitting pupils. Even factors such as sibling priority can alter the “catchment” area of a school year on year, especially in urban areas.
One of the major political stories of the summer has been the proposed re-introduction of grammar schools across England.
Grammar schools are state secondary schools (ages 11 to 18) that select pupils on the basis of academic ability – usually a test that pupils sit in the final year of primary school.
Once a central pillar of the English education system, most grammar schools were abolished in 1960s with only a few local authorities retaining them (for example Kent and Buckinghamshire).
Debate over their re-introduction rages – the main discussion points being how effectively they drive-up educational standards and act as a catalyst for social mobility.
However, on a practical level, their re-introduction would bring new challenges for families relocating into the English state system.
Muddying the admissions process: There would be an even greater variety than currently exists in the admissions processes of both individual schools and the local authorities (and its complicated now!)
Available places: Obtaining a place outside of formal entry points (11+, 16+, possibly 13+) will be challenging. Parents, once in a grammar school, tend to cling to their place and there will be less movement in the system for relocating families to take advantage of.
Two-tier system: Grammar schools create a two-tier system with the brighter kids fenced in the grammars and the less able kids penned in “all-ability” schools that tend to work at a lower level. These are the schools likely to be able to help relocating families.
Change in deadlines: Earlier application deadlines due to testing schedules will impact on families, forcing them to commit to housing earlier if they want to be included in the grammar entry process.
Dean Associates will keep you updated with all developments in this area.