I have no recollection of my first day at school. I was four-years-old so it’s not surprising that I can’t dredge up the memory. I do recall, however, refusing to return to nursery after being scared witless by Father Christmas.
Back then (late 1970s), kids were dropped off at a new school and expected to get on with it. Today it’s markedly different. Ahead of my four-year-old niece’s foray into education, she has visited the school at least twice and had a couple of home visits from her teachers. Luxury!
But there were still tears this morning, from daughter and mum. And I’ll be fretting all day, desperate to know how she’s getting on and whether she’s making new friends. I’m lucky, though. As Aunty Helen, that’s all I have to worry about. It’s the parents who have a lot on their plate, not least ensuring they live in an area with great schools.
Research out today from Lloyds Bank shows that parents are willing to pay an average of £53,000 more to live in an area close to a top performing state school – an increase of £13,000 (31 per cent) from last year.
Average property prices have now reached £366,744 in the postal districts of the top 30 state schools in England which achieved the strongest GCSE results in 2015, with homes typically trading at a premium of £53,426 – or 17 per cent – compared to the county average of £313,318.
There’s more. The postal districts of six of the 30 top state schools command a house price premium in excess of £150,000, compared to their surrounding areas. Properties in the postal district of Beaconsfield High School have the largest premium, with homes trading at £629,021 above the county average house price of £367,191.
Meanwhile, house prices in the postal district of The Henrietta Barnett School trade at a premium of £429,506 compared to the whole of Barnet, followed by Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School in Buckinghamshire (premium of £220,082) and the Tiffin Girls School in Kingston upon Thames (£192,011 premium).
Blimey. Thankfully, there’s some good financial news for mums and dads. According to Lloyds Bank, parents who bought a home near one of the top 30 schools just before their child first entered secondary school in 2011 have seen an average house price rise from £290,683 to £366,744, in 2016 – an increase of 26 per cent. This is a significantly faster rise than in England as a whole, where the average house price has grown over the same period from £240,208 to £282,353 (18 per cent.)
Andrew Mason, Lloyds Bank mortgage products director, said: ‘Schools with the best exam performance are proving to be an increasingly strong draw for homemovers, as we’ve seen house prices rise sharply in locations close to such schools.
‘Our analysis shows that since 2011 average house prices in areas with the best state schools have increased by £76,000, compared to a national increase of £42,145. And seven of the areas covered in this survey have seen house prices rise by over £100,000 in the last five years.
‘The popularity of areas close to high performing schools may mean that homes remain unaffordable for buyers on average earnings.’
Ain’t that the truth. Median gross annual income for full-time employees is £27,600, a far cry from the salary needed to buy property near many sought-after schools. In some instances, it wouldn’t even cover the percentage price rise of homes near these schools. It’s enough to make me long for the day when all I had to worry about was a terrifying Santa Claus.
Helen Nugent is Online Money Editor of The Spectator