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How Free Is A Comprehensive Education?

New research from the University of Warwick has revealed how much parents are prepared to pay to move to the catchment areas of the best state schools.

Dr Dennis Leech and Erick Campos of the University's Department of Economics have carried out a study that shows that families may have to pay a premium of up to £20,000 to buy a house in the catchment area of the most popular schools.

The researchers made a case study of how housing costs in Coventry are affected by the catchment areas of two of the city’s most successful and most popular comprehensive schools – Coundon Court and Finham Park.

Both schools regularly receive more first preference requests from potential pupils wishing to study at the school than they have places  available.

In 1999 Coundon Court received 412 applications for 270 places whilst Finham Park received 317 request for 230 places.

The main criteria the schools use to resolve the over-popularity is whether prospective pupils live within the school's catchment area. The university researchers therefore tested the idea that this 'catchment test' puts a premium on house prices within the desired areas.

The economists made a detailed analysis of advertised house prices in Coventry. After eliminating the normal causes of house price variation such as number of rooms, type of house, extra garaging etc they discovered that location within the catchment area of these two schools does significantly affect house prices.

Location with Coundon Court’s catchment area added 19% to the cost of the house whilst location with Finham Park's catchment added 15% to the cost.

When the house price data was collected last July 2000 this factor meant that a house in the Coundon or Radford areas of Coventry outside the catchment of Coundon Court School cost on average £53,510, while one within the catchment area cost on average £10,006 more at £63,677.

The effect was even more pronounced for houses in the Allesley / Eastern Green area of the city where houses outside the Coundon Court School catchment went for an average of over £111,000, but those inside the catchment cost on average £20,000 more.

For Finham Park School it was found that houses in the Earlsdon area of the city outside the catchment cost on average £97,362 whilst those within the school's catchment area cost £14,500 more.

The report concludes that giving your children the best education that the state can provide can cost you dearly - as much as £20,000 if the Coventry situation is typical.

How does that compare with going private?

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CWN / Education / University of Warwick / 2 Apr 01
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