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Parents willing to pay more than £50,000 extra for school catchment area privilege

A new report reveals the extreme lengths parents will go to in order to secure a place at top schools.

Posted on 10 Sep 2014

  • One in 10 parents (10%) are willing to pay in excess of £50,000 for a property in a desirable school catchment area
  • Inflated house prices in good state school catchment areas mean it may be cheaper for parents to send their children to local private schools
  • A quarter of parents (24%) would consider renting an additional property in the catchment area for a good school
  • Nearly one in five parents (18%) admit that they started thinking about what school to send their child to before they were even born
  • Confused.com is launching new ‘My Neighbourhood’ tool to help Brits search local house prices, school ratings and insurance premiums in their area

Catchment area premiums

Some parents (10%) are willing to pay more than £50,000 extra for a property in a desirable school catchment area, according to new research from Confused.com. 

A new report from the leading price comparison site reveals the extreme lengths parents will go to in order to secure a place for their child at a top-performing school, with nearly a third of parents (29%) admitting that they have moved house specifically to be in the catchment area for a good school. 

And when it comes to choosing a property, parents admit that they would be willing to pay £19,000 extra, on average, for a house in the catchment area for a good school - with some parents willing to pay even more*.  

As a result of these ‘catchment area premiums’, house prices around the most academically successful state schools in the country are becoming so high that it may well work out cheaper for parents to send their children to a local private school. 

Compared to the average house price in England of £275,721**, the typical price of a house close to Lowbrook Academy, Maidenhead - one of England’s best state schools** – is £481,023***. According to calculations, it would be cheaper for families to educate a child at a local private school than to borrow the money needed to move into the Lowbrook Academy, Maidenhead catchment area****. Worryingly, this could lead to children from less wealthy families being ‘priced out ‘of the best state primary schools. 

Many parents are even willing to ‘cheat the system’ to secure places at the most sought after schools in the country. Nearly one in 10 parents (9%) admit to having given a false address within the catchment area of a good school to ensure their child got a place there, while nearly a quarter (24%) would consider renting an additional property in the catchment area for a good school to help secure a place for their child.

Other underhand tactics

Other underhand tactics that parents admit to adopting to help get their child into their school of choice include feigning religious observance to get into a well performing local school (7%) or falsely claiming that a sibling already attends a local school to increase their child’s chances of acceptance (4%). 

Some parents also admit that they would be willing to pay for extra tuition to try and nab a place at a well performing school (16%), while others admit that they would send their child to a nursery simply because it had links to a good primary school (27%).

The race to secure a place at a good state school means that some parents are now making decisions on where they will live before their children are even of school age. Nearly one in five parents (18%) admit that they started thinking about what school to send their child to before they were even born, with a further 12% going as far as putting their unborn child’s name down on a school waiting list. 

Not enough places at good schools

The findings published by Confused.com come amid mounting concerns over rising primary school populations leading to a shortage of school places for children. In recent weeks, figures from the Department of Education revealed that six primary schools have classes with just one teacher to 70 children, while nearly 100 have classes with at least 50 pupils. Analysis suggests that at the current rate, the number of pupils in large classes will reach almost half a million by 2020.*****

These figures are of obvious concerns to parents across the UK, with nearly a third (32%) admitting that they are worried that there are currently not enough places at good schools. 

However, some parents have polarising views when it comes to the UK primary school admissions system. Controversially, nearly one in six parents (17%) think school places should be given out based on a child's academic ability, with a further one in seven (13%) believing parents should be allowed to pay to get their children into a good state school. 

In contrast, nearly a quarter of parents (24%) think school admissions need to be fairer so that the best schools aren't just for those who can afford to live nearby. 

Gareth Lane, Head of Home insurance at Confused.com, says:

“Although household finances remain stretched, it is significant to see from our research that a number of parents are willing to pay more on the price of a new home to ensure their child is in the catchment area for a good school.

"Choosing the right school for your child is possibly one of the most important decisions a parent will make. However, it’s concerning that inflated house prices could be impacting choices for children in education by pricing people out of areas with good schools. 

“However, while local primary school performance is something that parents might be likely to consider when buying a home, it is just one of a number of factors that can impact house prices, along with local crime rates, flooding risks and insurance prices, to name but a few.” 

Help for parents and buyers

To help parents and prospective buyers search local house prices, school ratings and insurance premiums in their area, Confused.com has launched the ‘My Neighbourhood’ tool, providing people with valuable information about their local area.

                                                                          -Ends-


Notes to Editors:

All figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll Research on behalf of Confused.com. This was an online poll of 2,000 UK adults parents (nationally representative sample). The research was conducted between 20 and 23 August 2014.

* One in ten parents (10%) are willing to pay in excess of £50,000 for a property in a desirable school catchment area.

** Confused.com calculated the average price of a house in England to be £275,721. http://www.zoopla.co.uk/links/widgets/values/

*** http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-25342354 - Primary school league tables: best results

****Confused.com calculated the average price of a house in Maidenhead, SL6 to be £481,023. http://www.zoopla.co.uk/links/widgets/values/

Buying a property in the catchment area of Lowbrook Academy, Maidenhead would cost an additional £205,302.


Borrowing that amount over a 25-year period at an interest rate of 1.99 per cent would cost £102,137.75 it said. So £205,302 x 1.99% = £4085.51 x 25 years = £102,137.75

However, sending one child to Claire’s Court Schools, Maidenhead, SL6 6AW from reception to year 6 would cost about £66,015.

Reception = £2565 per term x 3 terms in a year = £7,695
YR1 = £2730 per term x 3 terms in a school year = £8,190
YR2 = £2895 per term x 3 terms in a school year = £8,685
YR3 = £2895 per term x 3 terms in a school year = £9,900
YR4 = £2895 per term x 3 terms in a school year = £9,900
YR5 = £2895 per term x 3 terms in a school year = £9,900
YR6 = £3915 per term x 3 terms in a school year = £11,745
Total = £66,015 

http://www.clairescourt.com/admissions/fees

*****http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/11039610/Hundreds-of-children-taught-in-classrooms-with-over-70-pupils.html 



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About Confused.com

Confused.com is one of the UK’s biggest and most popular price comparison services. 
Confused.com was the UK's first price comparison site for car insurance. Launched in 2002, it generates over one million quotes per month. It has expanded its range of comparison products over the last couple of years to include home insurance, holiday insurance, pet insurance, small van insurance, motorcycle insurance, breakdown cover and gas and electricity, as well as financial services products including credit cards, loans, mortgages and life insurance.

Confused.com is not a supplier, insurance company or broker. It provides an, objective and unbiased comparison service. 
By using cutting-edge technology, it has developed a series of intelligent web-based solutions that evaluate a number of risk factors to help customers with their decision-making, subsequently finding them great deals on a wide-range of insurance products, financial services, utilities and more. Confused.com’s service is based on the most up-to-date information provided by UK suppliers and industry regulators. 

Confused.com is owned by the Admiral Group plc. Admiral listed on the London Stock Exchange in September 2004. Confused.com is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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