Parents paying £122k more for house in Boroughmuir catchment area

Boroughmuir High School. Picture: Jon Savage
Boroughmuir High School. Picture: Jon Savage
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Parents determined to get their child into the catchment area for Boroughmuir High school in Edinburgh – one of Scotland’s leading state schools – need to pay £121,952 more than they would for properties in surrounding areas, research released today reveals.

A report from the Bank of Scotland also shows parents need to shell out an average premium of around £41,000 to obtain a place in the “right” area for the top 20 state secondary schools in Scotland.

Homes in the catchment area for the Royal High School also command a premium of £33,134.

However, people buying near Boroughmuir High School pay the most, with an average house price of £365,804, 50 per cent more than the surrounding area.

The school’s famous alumni include television journalist Sarah Smith, host of BBC political programme Sunday Politics, actress Pollyanna McIntosh who starred in the film adaption of Irvine Welsh’s novel Filth, Christine Grahame, SNP MSP, and legendary Famous Five footballer Lawrie Reilly who played for Hibs and Scotland.

The analysis, looking at house prices near the top 20 performing state schools, shows the average cost of a house nearby is £231,476.

As a result house buyers are paying a premium of £41,441 (22 per cent) when compared to houses in surrounding areas (£190,035).

While schools are not the only factor, as the areas would be considered prime locations even without the good educational facilities, catchment areas certainly have an impact on property prices.

Graham Blair, mortgages director at Bank of Scotland, said that certain school catchment areas meant housing was expensive.

“In areas such as Edinburgh and Aberdeen, the price tag for a house close to the best state schools is unsurprisingly large,” he said.

“However, in other areas, particularly East Renfrewshire, this doesn’t appear to be the case, with three of the top five schools being reasonably affordable, or even cheaper than houses in the surrounding areas.”

The research also says parents who bought a home near one of the top 20 schools in 2012 have seen an average house price rise of £45,493 (from £185,983 in 2012 to £231,476 in 2017) – an increase of 24 per cent.

Iain Gray, MSP, Scottish Labour’s education spokesman, said pupils were being subjected to an educational “postcode lottery”. He added: “It is not that surprising, but this report does lay bare one of the aspects of educational inequality in Scotland.”

Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Liz Smith said the way to take financial pressures off parents was to improve educational standards across the board.

“This is a premium that, in some cases, is more than what families would pay for independent school fees,” she said.

“The attainment gap under the SNP has been allowed to remain, and the price of that issue for some families is in the tens of thousands of pounds.”

A spokesman for the Educational Institute of Scotland teaching union said “catchment area inflation” was not a new phenomenon.

“What should also be considered is that schools in many of these areas will often benefit from a high level of parental engagement in their child’s education.”