Buying a house in the Capital’s most sought-after catchment areas can prove more expensive than sending children to private schools, it was claimed today.
Research by think-tank Reform Scotland found that house prices in the catchment areas for the best-performing state schools meant moving there could be more costly than living in a less expensive area and paying private school fees for two youngsters.
The average house price paid in Edinburgh over the past three years was £225,931.
However, parents who want their children to go to Boroughmuir High – where 64 per cent of fourth year pupils passed at least five standard grades last year, compared to the national average of 38 per cent – can expect to stump up an extra £100,000 to live nearby.
Reform Scotland said that was enough to pay for two children to attend George Heriot’s, George Watson’s or Erskine Stewart’s Melville.
Keir Bloomer, a member of the Reform Scotland advisory board, said the findings highlighted the reality of parents having to pay for their children’s education.
He said it meant families who could not afford to live in these catchments or pay tuition fees had little choice but to have their children educated in schools with poorer results.
“This is not about ‘good schools’ and ‘bad schools’ but about our failure to tackle disadvantage effectively,” he said.
But Melanie Main, Green Education spokesperson, said it was an unfair comparison to make. She said parental choice meant that hundreds of pupils attending ‘top performing’ schools, such as Boroughmuir and Gillespie’s, live out of catchment.
She said: “While I’m sure families take the local school into account in deciding where to live, there’s an awful lot more to that decision than a crude league table of exam results. Personally my family lives where we do so to be close to work.
“The best performing schools are those that enable children to reach their full potential, whatever that is, and that is the aim of schools across Edinburgh. St Thomas’ High School, which has very high academic attainment, and a very wide city catchment, is a great example.”
Marianna Clyde, chair of Merchiston Community Council, said the area was desirable for more than just its schools.
She said: “A lot of people do live in the area because the schools are good and that has driven house prices up, but it’s a very nice area to live for a lot of reasons.”
Education convener Paul Godzik said the council was committed to tackling inequality and providing support to schools where needed.
He said: “We’re also committed to ensuring we have good schools in each and every community. Sending children to local schools can have many benefits for parents, children and the community where they live. A great example is Castleview Primary School which in a recent inspection by Education Scotland was rated as one of the best primary schools in the country.”