A recent study carried out by Lloyds banking group has shown that affluent parents are prepared to pay on average £21,000 more than the average house price in bordering neighbourhoods for the privilege of living within the same postcode as a top 30 state school. This certainty is ominously indicative of the direction the gap between the wealthy and the deprived could be moving in.
Further findings showed that this added cost was at its weightiest for those seeking to live in the locality of Buckinghamshire’s Beaconsfield High School, as buyers seem happy to pay £483,031 more than average property prices in adjacent areas. Students at the school have notoriously achieved highly in years gone by, with 96% of students receiving an A*-B grade in their GCSE examinations for 2013, underlining the attractiveness of the institution for parents seeking the best academic results for their children.
The average price for a house in the same postcode as Beaconsfield High School stood at roughly £797, 000, which according to Lloyds’ report is over 18 times as much as average salaries in the same locality. However, this data can be seen as skewed due to the historically enduring affluence of the Beaconsfield location, and its reputation as a hotspot for commuters to the capital.
Disparity between affluent and underprivileged nonetheless, it’s understood that wealthier households have even been known to purchase a second home in a top state school’s postcode and pay for costly private tuition fees to ensure their children pass the entry examinations in order to secure a place at a top state school.
The amount of money saved on private school fees, justifies the excessive expense paid to private tutors in pursuit of a place at a top state school, especially when the quality of education at a private school mirrors that of educational establishments such as Beaconsfield High School.
However, it is children from poorer backgrounds who are missing out on these places, and as such, social mobility becomes more problematic in the long term causing many bright young people to feel excluded as their opportunities are marginalised.
The Lloyds Bank study cautions: “Those on average earnings are finding it difficult to purchase a property close to many of the best state schools.” Conor Ryan, long-term campaigner for poorer children’s schooling rights & director of research at the Sutton Trust, welcomed the report from Lloyds: “This research confirms that access to the best state schools is too often linked to family income … where comprehensive schools prioritise proximity in admissions, they close off access to many who can’t afford the high house prices.” Attempts to enhance social mobility have been plentiful in years gone by, as various governments have prioritised it. Most recently, the Coalition introduced fresh proposals in July which instructed school admission authorities to allow “priority for school places to disadvantaged children”. Schools would be afforded a ‘pupil premium’ varying in amount for primary and secondary school students, with the former valued at £1300 and the latter at £935.
Calls for fairer admission standards have amplified in recent times, with a plethora of suggestions for clever children from low-income families to be prioritised when schools consider prospective students. However, with private tuition fees and tactful property acquirements by wealthy parents, the problem is not being addressed.
A potential introduction of free instructive sessions for prospective students from low-income households seeking to pass entry examinations is a possible solution to level out the playing field.
One thing is for certain, your family’s gross income ought not to affect your child’s education.