A Department for Education report recently revealed that property purchasers are currently willing to spend on average 8% more to secure a property of their choice near the best primary schools and approximately 7% extra to be close to top secondary schools in their area.
This is unsurprising, as every parent wants the best education for their children. Competition for top schools can be intense, making competition for properties lying within specific catchment areas just as intense!
In some areas where top schools are located, demand for properties is extremely high and buyers have no choice but to pay a premium for the privilege of residing in the catchment area, so this is an important factor to take into consideration when choosing a school.
However, securing a dream property near the school of choice is not the only challenge parents may face when choosing a school.
Choosing a school requires careful planning. Whether a public or private school, ultimately it should be a school that will make the educational experience for parents and child as rewarding as possible.
- Consider your child’s learning style and needs: Is your child academic, thriving on a traditional way of learning, or practical, requiring a more diverse method of education? Every school will have a unique approach to teaching, even when the curriculum is similar, so it is important to shortlist more than one school in the area. Just because it is the ‘best’ school does not necessarily equate to it being the ‘best school for your child’.
Top Tip: Always find out what each school’s mission statement is so that you can get a better view of their overall vision.
- Gather information about all potential schools in the area: It’s important to look beyond the slick marketing pitches and be proactive - call each school, collect written information about their curriculum, the teaching staff, facilities and core values and look for reports in local newspapers and community news-sheets to get a fully rounded picture.
Top Tip: A glossy prospectus will only show the good bits! Dig deeper and gather information by talking to the local community – in particular your local estate agent – as they will often hold inside information due to being an integral part of the community.
- Visit a selection of schools: Book an appointment to coincide with regular classes to get a real feel for the school. During your tour, note whether the students are happy, relaxed and engaged in class or miserable, bored and up-tight. Visiting a school is a vital part of choosing the right establishment and you should trust your instincts. You’ll get a feeling for the school and chances are if you feel comfortable in the environment then so will your child.
Top Tip: Chat with students to get an insider sense of what life is like at the school. Children are honest and won’t dress things up, but it’s also a good idea to talk to parents about their children’s experience.
- Research each school’s reputation: Find out how long the school has been established, whether the school is a member of a recognised body, check that it is financially stable and with a good academic record. Consider average class sizes too as this has been found to have a direct impact on learning.
Top Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask very specific and direct questions to staff and parents.
Finally, it’s likely you will be paying a lot of money for your child’s education, so don’t be afraid to expect value for your money.
If you would like advice on choosing a property in your chosen school catchment area, call our team.
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