Every year parents across the country have to make the important decision of where to educate their children. Obtaining a place at a top performing school is a high priority for parents, but if they are not living within the catchment area of their desired school many will consider relocation for a better education.
As private education fees increase it can be more cost effective to buy a property in an area with a high performing state school rather than spend thousands of pounds on private fees. A recent report by Killik & Co found that the cost of putting a child through a 14-year private education in the UK costs on average £286,000.
In the long term buying a house in a sought after catchment area could be a shrewd investment. You will pay a premium but providing the school standards and catchment boundaries remain the same, it could offer security against the highs and lows of the property market. According to research by estate agent Savills, the cost of homes near best performing schools can be 25 per cent higher than other areas.
Finding property near good schools is made easier online with websites offering information to help you to make an informed decision. However, it is important to remember to scrutinise the property details as well as Ofsted reports. The house might be across the road from the school but is it big enough for your growing family?
In order to apply for a school you have to reside in the area before application opens, and as buying and selling a house can take some time you may end up moving a year or two before school starts. Jo and Alex moved from an area they were very happy in to be near an ‘outstanding’ secondary school. “It was hard leaving our old house but we weren’t in the catchment area of the school we want for our daughter so we decided to move”, said Jo. “It was a difficult decision and was hard at first but now we have no regrets. The only downside is the half hour commute to the primary school she still attends near our old house.”
A parent’s eagerness to get their children into their school of choice can sometimes make them consider bending the rules. Many churches notice a rise in the congregation on Sundays as families attend to ensure they can get a place at their local faith school. Being baptised to achieve a school place is also not unheard of. Renting a property is another way parents try to cheat the system. This practice can backfire though as local authorities check for fraudulent claims. If the family are not resident at the rental property when applying or move away once a place is allocated, the place could be withdrawn.
Moving to a house in an ideal catchment area will cost a premium but it can be the cheaper option to gain a better education.