It’s something of a national controversie. Every year, parents, desperate to ensure that their children are sufficiently educated, up sticks and look for somewhere that falls within the catchment area of their desired school, a school with a good OFSTED report. There can be vast differences from one school to the next, not just in terms of exam league tables, but in terms of facilities, extra-curricular activities, safety and bullying. Can we really blame parents (and some commentators definitely do) who want their children to grow up into confident, informed, well-rounded adults?
Moving house in order to make your children eligible for a certain school isn’t the only complication related to catchment areas. There’s also the issue of what happens if you’re moving during the application process. And what about if you’re moving after your children have got a place? Does it make a difference to your eligibility if you’re renting rather than buying? We’ll look at all these situations and more over the following paragraphs.
Renting A House In A School Catchment Area
If you’re thinking of renting a property in the catchment area pertaining to your desired secondary school, it’s worth knowing a few things. First, there are the moral issues with which you’ll have to wrestle. By doing this, you’re potentially depriving a child who’s genuinely from that catchment area of a place at the school. Councils are wising up to the practice of parents renting in a catchment area while keeping their old house with a view to moving back into it once they can. So, for example, if you keep your old house but don’t rent it out, your council tax records may be checked when the time comes for a school to make its decision as to which catchment area you truly belong. GP records may also be acquired in order to determine where you’re really living. The upshot is that any offer of a school place could end up being revoked. If you pull it off, you’ll need to live in your new home for some time. Simply moving back once you have the offer of a place could end up backfiring.
Moving House After Getting A School Place
What happens if your child has been given a school place, but you need to move to a different area before he or she actually starts a the school? Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer because not all local education authorities are the same. However, the rule of thumb is that it’s where you live when you made the application that counts. The offer of a school place cannot be withdrawn simply because you have moved and, provided your application wasn’t in any way fraudulent or deliberately misleading, the offer remains. In fact, offers can only be withdrawn in very limited circumstances. Why not proceed by not saying anything? Then, when your child has started at the school, send the school a letter notifying them of your change of address.
Applying For A School Place When Moving House
This is a potentially complicated and confusing scenario. And when you’re moving house, there’s already a lot on your plate and quite enough to think about. Presumably, if you’re moving house, then you’re looking for a school that falls within the new catchment area. Consequently, a letter from your solicitor confirming your moving date could be enough to sway things in your favour. A copy of the lease agreement is another useful document.
Moving Into A School Catchment Area
If you’re moving lock stock and barrel in order to get into a catchment area (as opposed to renting temporarily), then you’re not alone. Nearly a quarter of parents with school-age children have travelled the same path, moving house in order to get into their preferred catchment area. Not only can this be unsettling for children, it can mean parents having to take new jobs. Studies have indicated negative effects on children’s mental health as a result of the practise. There’s evidence to suggest that house prices end up being pushed higher by more than £25,000 as another consequence. There’s an array of additional risks. Catchment areas change – some expand, others diminish. You could uproot yourselves, changing jobs, paying stamp duty, removals costs, mortgage expenses and legal fees, and then find, when you sell up, that the catchment area has changed, wiping value off your property. And in the capital, where around a third of parents are thought to have bought or rented in order to make their children eligible for the right schools, the effect on property prices is an increase of over £80,000.