Applications are in, so we just have to wait. You discuss it further with your friends, keep looking at the school’s website, and try to find out without any certainty how many siblings have applied to our chosen primary, secondary or 6th form college. Nail biting stuff.
A few Reasons that a place may slip through your fingers.
An obscene amount of siblings apply. Coleridge Primary school in Crouch End, N8 saw their catchment shrink to 0.291 of a mile for 2011/2012, even though they are a four form entry. This is due to 70 out of 120 places being offered to siblings. So if you moved to within 0.3 of a mile last year, for the much sought after, ‘Outstanding Ofsted Report’ Coleridge then you would have been disappointed, but from experience life has a way of turning out just fine.
Distance, measured in a straight line or as the crow flies (hoping it flies to our house first), can change from year to year, examples this year (only looking at outstanding Ofsted school, otherwise I’ll be here all day).
Coldfall Primary Haringey N10 – 0.380 mile.
Rhodes Avenue Primary, Haringey N22 – 0.415 (pretty good but probably due to the expansion to three form entry form last year),
Famous Tetherdown Haringey N10 – 0.221
Fortismere Secondary, Haringey N10 – 0.441
Alexandra Park Secondary, Haringey N22 – 0.845
Comption Secondary School, Barnet N12 – 0.691 (a feeder school into Woodhouse College which is an Outstanding 6th form college in North Finchley).
And if you are seeking out a faith school, you may find that you’re not religious enough! So get down to your local church, bake cakes and make teas…
All this leads me to property prices both inside and outside catchment areas of top performing schools. There’s no denying that these properties demand a higher premium and when they come onto the market are snapped up quickly. But this situation is self -perpetuating. The neighbourhoods close to decent transport and shops with smart Victorian houses become predominantly middle class with professional type families moving in, which in turn improves the schools, which grow and thrive with the help of parents whom support and nurture the state system (don’t get me started on Tutoring!). Parents who would once have used their money to get their children into private schools have now created property “hotspots”. A prime example of this being Tetherdown and Fortismere in Muswell Hill. These parents, whilst they subscribe to state education, are using their financial clout to secure their child a place at a top performing state school.
House prices will always remain steady and rising disproportionately in these areas; a large majority have surpassed the 1 million pound plus mark forcing aspirational parents to look elsewhere.
Let me touch on renting, albeit briefly. Read the following extract from ‘Camden School for Girls’ website, then decide for yourself. More and more over-subscribed schools and local authorities may adopt this admissions policy:
If the main address has changed temporarily, for example where a family is renting a property on a Short Term Tenancy Agreement (12 months or under), then the relevant address remains that at which the parent was resident before the period of temporary residence began, unless it can be shown that all ties to the previous address have been relinquished, or that the move is not easily reversible. The Governors may refuse to base an allocation on an address where they have reasonable grounds to believe that it is a temporary address only.
Some areas to buy in and what they have to offer:
Alexandra Park, N22 – Catchment for Rhodes Avenue Primary School, and APS – houses from 650k plus.
Borders on to Bounds Green, Hornsey, Muswell Hill and Wood Green. Alexandra Park itself is a Green Flag winnng park. Predominantly terraced Edwardian houses with a high concentration of families.
Bounds Green, N11 – Bowes Primary (Just in Enfield) with an Outstanding Ofsted Report- parts of the area in Alexandra Park School catchment – A decent 3 bedroom house 450k plus, with Bounds Green Underground Station close by.
Hornsey, N8 – Close by to Priory Park, a favourite for dog walkers and children as it has a playground, paddling pool and basketball courts. The High Street is full of independent shops and eateries. Campsbourne Primary School and Haringey Music Centre are in the area. Houses are similar in price to Alexandra Park. Hornsey Rail Wood Green Underground close by.
Back end of Wood Green, N22 near Alexandra Palace Rail overground – 3 bedroom houses 400k plus.
Harringay Ladder, N8 – still possible to find a 3 bedroom house with potential for adding an extra room in the loft – 380k plus. Convenient to Wood Green Shopping Centre.
East Finchley, on the west side of the High Road, but still in the catchment of Martins Primary School, N2, – 0.258 (has just been awarded an Outstanding Ofsted Report). 3 bedroom houses when on the market – £450k plus. East Finchley Underground.
Suburban residential areas close to the Northern Line between Highgate to Totteridge, for example Woodside Park.
Take a look at the House Price index (below) for the last 10 years in Barnet and Haringey. Prices continue to rise steadily, and if you were brave enough to buy during the last crash, then lucky you. Basically, over a period of time property will always rise.
I’m not going to comment on the various predictions from the likes of RICS and Knight Frank as they take a very broad view of areas. Property values are very subjective, and influenced by micro areas and even specific roads. Prices of properties in the catchment of a good state school are always going to hold up.
As families are priced out of areas like Crouch End and Muswell Hill, then the areas they can afford and feel is next best alternative, are areas where the schools will benefit from the new influx of young professional families.
All in all, North London is a good area to buy in if you are lucky enough to be able to afford it. I'd really like to hear about areas you think are up and coming or good for families that I've not mentioned. And if you are interested in reading more about my adventures in property, check out my blog