Time to get educated about the best state schools
Properties near Yorkshire’s best schools are attracting a premium as parents do their homework. Sharon Dale reports.
YOU don’t need an A* in maths to work out that a recession plus private school fees equals increased interest in the bestperforming state high schools.
Those who can longer afford to pay for their child’s education are doing their homework and are house hunting in the catchment areas for grammars and comprehensives that top the league tables.
“There has been a move from fee-paying to state education and we are seeing the results of that,” says estate agent David Phillip, of Dacre, Son and Hartley.
David believes that property close to the best schools commands a 15 per cent premium and competition for good quality, family-sized homes in these areas is getting stiffer.
Patrick Mccutcheon, Head of Residential at Dacre, Son & Hartley, says that locals are now fighting off competition from parents outside the county, who are targeting North Yorkshire with the aim of getting their children an excellent free education.
“Whilst they have always been an important consideration for families moving home, we’re now dealing with more people than ever before who are looking for properties close to the best schools,” he says.
Top of the class as far as former fee payers are concerned are the selective grammar schools in desirable residential areas including Ripon and The Girls High School and Ermysted’s boys school in Skipton.
These require children to pass an 11 plus-style entrance exam and creaming off the most academic children helps give them excellent results.
Last year, 99 per cent of Ermysted’s pupils passed at least five GCSE’S at grade A* to C. Ripon scored 100 per cent, as did Skipton Girls High, which hit the headlines when Beth Smith and Stephanie Ford earned 15 A*’s each.
If you don’t want to put your ten or 11-year-old under entrance exam pressure then Ilkley Grammar, Prince Henry’s Grammar in Otley Bingley Grammar and Harrogate Grammar schools are popular. They are non-selective comprehensives with excellent results. Harrogate Grammar had an 82 per cent GCSE A* - C pass rate last year, while Ilkley Grammar recorded 80 per cent.
Over in York, which boasts some of the best private education in the county, Fulford School is an obvious target for those who can no longer afford fees. It has a 73 per cent pass rate.
Harriet Naish, of Naish estate agents, says that Fulford is perennially popular with parents and adds: “The beauty of York is that there are several excellent schools, both junior and senior, with large geographical catchment areas. Obvious examples are Fulford, Huntington and Tadcaster Grammar schools, all of which seem to have a major influence on buyers’ search criteria.”
Anyone targetting the top performing schools needs to plan well ahead as leaving it to the last minute can lead to stress and acute embarrassment.
Local authorities have clamped down on those who try to subvert the system. Catchment cheats have been known to pretend a cousin or a partner’s child is a sibling. Others rent a flat and claim it is their main home, putting investigators off the scent by having their mail re-directed there and a landline installed. Others use a relative’s address.
The Code of Practice on School Admissions states that if a place has been obtained on the basis of fraudulent residential information, then it can be withdrawn, so be warned.
If you play by the rules then you need to arm yourself with the facts and be aware that catchment areas can change, so the closer you live to a school the better.
Patrick Mccutcheon, of Dacre, Son and Hartley, says: “We would always advise buyers to check with local education authorities about their selection processes before making any major decisions. It’s also a good idea to speak to the chosen school and ask them the same questions.”
OUTSTANDING: Skipton Girls’ High School pupils Beth Smith and Stephanie Ford each got 15 GCSES at A*