Catchment if you can

school catchment areas and house prices

With the new school year now underway, we look at the impact that ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rated schools have on house prices.

According to data from the Land Registry, Department of Education and Ofsted, the connection between family sized homes and proximity to a school with an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating (state or private; primary or secondary) can be as much as 28% and, even at the extremities of the schools’ catchment areas, it can remain around 20%.

Given that some schools’ catchment areas can span 20 miles in each direction from the school’s gates, an Ofsted ‘outstanding’ rating can affect a huge swathe of property.

Whilst living within a school’s catchment area does not guarantee a place, it certainly helps. For example, living within the catchment area of a Grammar School is often essential to securing a place. Dr Challoner’s Grammar School for Boys in Amersham states on its website: “In most years, we have admitted no boys from outside the catchment area.” All schools publish their Admissions and Over-Subscribed Policies online and there are many websites, forums and parent groups with helpful advice and first-hand experience to guide you through the pre-admissions process and criteria.

The premium for homes within 5 miles of popular private schools is often much higher than 28% – particularly in University cities where demand outstrips supply. So, as there is usually no formal catchment area, there is a temptation to live further away from the school. But, it is worth bearing in mind that if you live 10-15 miles west of the school, then your child’s best friend could easily live the same distance to the east of the school, making sleep overs and parties very complicated!

What happens if the school loses its ‘outstanding’ status? Will house prices similarly dip? There is little evidence that a dip from an ‘outstanding’ to a ‘good’ rating will have an immediate effect, especially if the school has nurtured close bonds to the community, is still getting good results and the children and parents are happy.

Choosing the right schools is highly individual and can change as your children develop. It can be a complex and daunting process but, in the end, it very often comes down to ‘gut feel’ – you just know when you have connected with staff, students and atmosphere and if it just feels right.

Buying to be in a catchment area is one thing, but the family home still has to meet the demands of all the family’s lives. Affordability, design, layout, size, commute, local facilities are just a few of the criteria that should be considered; after all, life outside school is just as important. But, for everyone’s benefit, the shorter the school run, the better.

Troy Homes’ recently launched Pheasant Close in Amersham consists of four 3 and 4 bedroom homes in the catchment area for Dr Challoner’s Grammar School for Boys and High School for Girls, these homes also meet the demands of modern family life. They are a short walk from the station for trains to London and the sporting and recreational possibilities that this area of Buckinghamshire can offer are seemingly endless. Price Guide £750,000 to £1.2m. To find out more and receive updates on these homes, register your interest.