Parents are paying more than £50,000 in order to move to catchment areas with outstanding schools, raising fears that the country’s top state schools are becoming selective according to family wealth.
A survey of more than one million homes across England has revealed that parents are paying vast property premiums to move home, with the average house in outstanding school catchment area costing £52,000 more on average than those near schools which require improvement.
In London, where competition for good or outstanding school places is the fiercest nationally, the price squeeze is even more pronounced - with parents paying upwards of £80,000 in order to move close to a top-rated school.
The research, published today by Rightmove, has intensified fears among education leaders that social mobility and attainment among deprived pupils is being exacerbated by the property market.
Graham Brady, chair of the Conservative Party’s 1922 Committee, said the research underscored the case for new grammar schools, which he argued would ease pressure on existing schools and provide fairer choice for parents unable to relocate.
“There is nothing fair about allocating school places according to the ability of parents to buy a house in the catchment area,” he told The Telegraph.
“Allocating places by ability and aptitude is more likely to ensure the right school place for every child. That is why the government is right to allow more grammar schools and to improve technical education too.”
His comments echo those made by the Education Secretary Justine Greening, who has called for the introduction of new grammar schools in order to provide more pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds with a first-rate education.
Writing in The Telegraph last month, Ms Greening said that growing competition in the property market was “fuelling concern” among parents, with “less wealthy” families denied access to schools that were open to their wealthier counterparts.
With the Department for Education’s consultation on Schools that work for everyone now complete, Ms Greening argues that the introduction of new grammars will help eliminate the attainment gap, and ensure that deprived children across the country have access to a good school place.
With house prices increasing annually, the competition for outstanding school places means that even parents moving from areas with ‘good’ schools to the those with a top Ofsted grade are paying a 12 percent premium, or £37,000 on average.
Outside of London, the West Midlands is now the greatest area of disparity, with parents paying £52,919 to move from areas where schools ‘require improvement’, whilst the East Midlands is the lowest, at £23,325.
Meanwhile, the South East maintains the largest property price gap between good and outstanding schools, with houses in the best performing catchments costing on average £40,215 more than the former.
It comes as recent Ofsted data revealed that the 86 percent of English primary schools rated outstanding are now oversubscribed, whilst 62 percent have been awarded ‘good’ status.
Commenting on the research, Miles Shipside, Rightmove’s housing expert, said: “Looking for the right home near the right school is one of the most important factors that home-hunters tell us they look for when they’re thinking of moving.
“Many are willing to compromise on other factors if it means getting their children into a good or outstanding school.
“Our new study with 192.com puts a price on actually securing a place at a good or outstanding school, and highlights the challenges that many parents need to go through to secure a place at a school and a home that they know is right for them.”
Additional reporting by Ashley Kirk.