How to move to the right school catchment area

Unless you plan to pay for private schooling, you could be forgiven for assuming that your children’s education will cost you very little. However, a recent survey by Santander* shows that this is far from the reality that many families are facing. Competition for places in oversubscribed schools is fierce; nearly a quarter of parents are willing to move house to ensure that their children are admitted to the school of their choice, paying an average of 12% (£26,800) more for a home in their chosen school catchment areas. 

With these figures in mind, it is hardly surprising that some pushy parents have resorted to devious (and sometimes fraudulent) methods to secure a top class education for their offspring. Some use family addresses to apply for their school place. Others fake a relationship breakdown to explain address changes, or take up a new religion just in time for admission to their local faith school. 

Such tactics are risky; school positions obtained through deception are regularly withdrawn, even after the start of term, leaving families in a difficult position. If you are serious about placing your child at a particular school, the safest and easiest way is to work within the rules.  

Moving Into the School Catchment Area

Perhaps the most obvious way to secure your child a place in a particular school is to make a permanent move to the area. Living close to your children’s school can make drop-offs, pick-ups and after school activities a lot easier, with the added benefit that you, and they, can settle into the area and become part of the local community. 

If you do decide to move then you have a couple of options. 

Sell your house and buy one closer to the school.

The main problem with buying in a popular school catchment area is that prices tend to be higher when local schools are in demand. But this is a great option if you can afford it and any premium when you buy should also be present when you sell. 

Be aware that you will need to plan your move well in advance of your child starting school as purchasing a house can be a lengthy process and some local authorities need to see proof that you have been living in the area before application. 

Rent a house in the school catchment area.

If prices in the area are out of your reach then you might consider renting. It is likely that you will be able to rent a nicer house than you could afford to buy and any decent landlord will appreciate a long term tenant who takes good care of their home. The temporary nature of renting means that you do risk the possibility of having to move again, though it also gives you the option to move on if you find the area doesn’t suit you. 

While it is nice to keep your options open, be aware that your new rental property will need to be your legitimate residential address. Temporarily renting a cheap one-bedroomed flat near your target school while you continue to reside in your three- or four-bed family home further away is unlikely to work.

Before you Move - Check the School Admissions Criteria 

Other than distance, factors which affect school applications may include some of the following: siblings at the same school, attendance at nearby feeder schools, religion, entrance exams, SEN or medical requirements. Specific details should be available on the school website; if you think one or more apply to you then you might find that you do not need to move at all.

Get an idea of schools in the Worthing and Lancing area and the cost of a family home nearby.

Elm Grove, Worthing

Bramber Primary, Worthing

Goring by Sea C of E, Worthing

Thomas a Becket, Worthing

Bohunt, Worthing

Durrington High, Worthing

The Globe Primary, Lancing

Sir Robert Woodard Academy, Lancing

(Properties shown for illustrative purposes only and are not necessarily in the catchment area)