Posted on 2nd March 2013

The Price of a Free Education

We all want the best for our children, so much so that it is becoming increasingly common for families to completely uproot themselves and to relocate to a catchment area of a better performing school.

With almost one in six children failing to get into their first choice secondary school last year - and the primary school picture not looking much better - parents seem to be feeling the pressure to up the ante.

Re-location to upscale and broaden the choice of schools is something that has been popular among middle-class parents in particular for a very long time now. However, there is little doubt that this is becoming an increasingly common practice with parents choosing to re-locate when it is financially feasible to do so. Many are also resorting to other methods including bringing in tutors and even going to church more to access often better preforming Voluntary Aided Schools under control of religious organisations.

Ever since it became apparent that some state schools were much better than others, catchment areas have driven demand for homes. While upping sticks might not be a problem for the affluent, for most, it can be a difficult decision which involves careful planning and considerable compromise.

In recent years, spurred on by the increasing number of high performing Academy schools, aspirational parents of state school students have started following suit, moving into the catchment area of their desired school.

Naturally parents want the friends their child makes at school and the education they receive to be the very best it realistically can be, as this will play a vital part in forming the person they become. Due to this, areas can quickly become property hotspots, driven in the main by the performance of education league tables.

This trend is evident in the catchment area of The English Martyrs School, a Voluntary Aided Roman Catholic school, in Hartlepool, with its TS25 postcode having seen a steady rise in prices as the school has achieved excellent GCSE results in recent years. According to data collected from property website Zoopla, the average price in the postcode is £124,233, which is £4113 higher than a year ago.

Parts of our towns are seeing areas develop a more desirable status, similar to areas of London, where the smart place to be seems to change on a six monthly basis.

The benefits are not solely fitting parents and their children, with areas of towns that have been somewhat neglected in recent years experiencing gentrification due to the influx of new, often middle class, residents bringing their wealth and their aspirations into town.

The ease of commuting to the centre of Hartlepool, Middlesbrough or even Newcastle makes the prospect of relocating to an area like TS25 even more achievable for working parents.

In turn, they will be able to invest more in their properties, whether it be extending, renovating or simply restyling the exterior of the property. This will improve the appearance of the area, boosting its profile and going some way to cementing its status as a popular area of town as well as giving their child the best they possibly can.

Please note: This article is intended as guidance only and does not constitute advice, financial or otherwise. No responsibility for loss occasioned/costs arising as a result of any act/failure to act on the basis of this article can be accepted by Latimer Hinks. In addition, no responsibility for loss occasioned/costs arising as a result of any act/failure to act on the basis of this article can be accepted by the firm.

Martin Williamson is Head of Residential Property at Latimer Hinks Solicitors in Darlington. Latimer Hinks has a team of around 40 people serving private and corporate clients. For further information: or call 01325 341500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Marie Carter on 01325 363 436.

Notes to editors:

Latimer Hinks solicitors, based in Darlington, has a team of around 40 people serving private and corporate clients.

Their range of expertise and services covers legal issues surrounding commercial, residential and agricultural property, wills and lasting powers of attorney, trusts, probate, long-term care, tax planning, commercial law, alternative and renewable energy, property and disputes, business rescue, employment, and land-owning.