UK Primary Schools Increasingly Favoring Nearby Families

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A new study conducted by FindASchool has shown that as competition heats up for a new generation of UK parents to find the best education for their children, more British primary schools — 90 reported this year — are admitting pupils who live within 300 yards of the school school.

The competition for high-quality primary schools is severe throughout the United Kingdom, with the most competitive and toughest admission policies in larger metropolitan areas, and especially in London.  A baby boom fueled by migration made the situation even worse this year. The survey also showed that one in eight families will not qualify for their first-choice primary school for the upcoming fall, reports The Telegraph.

Overall, the catchment area of oversubscribed schools – currently 45 percent of all schools in the country – was 2,500 yards for primary schools. However, in total there are almost 400 schools where children will not make it to the desired school if they live more than 500 yards away from school gates. Again, the situation is problematic in London, as two-thirds of schools in the capital city are oversubscribed.

The research concludes that places in top British primary schools are more or less given to children whose parents’ financial situation allows them to live in the area nearby, with the tightest catchment area reported to be 107 yards from the school, a designation belonging to Fox Primary School in Kensington and Chelsea in London. Ofsted rated the school as “outstanding.”

The school is in Notting Hill, one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the country, with the average purchase price of a one-bedroom apartment at about £800,000. A four-bedroom family house costs about £4 million, and the weekly rent for a studio apartment in the area is £460.

It was previously announced that parents had to pay additional £32,000 to live in the most appropriate catchment area. Four years ago, the amount was just £12,000. The study also revealed that half of the parents who changed their residence only to secure school places for their kids moved as soon as the school problem is resolved, writes Eleanor Harding of The Daily Mail.

The number of falsified applications is also increasing. The chief school adjudicator admitted that the number of fraudulent applications rose by 50 percent on a yearly basis. Parents of four-year-olds are given six choices when applying to schools for their kids, and families with brothers and sisters already in a school have priority.

The unseen high level of competition is mainly due to the recent baby boom in the country and migration patterns, which reached a peak of 330,000 in the year to March 2015. As a result, last year up to one in five pupils in some parts of the country did not make it to their first top choice of primary school. The situation in London was even worse –  their number increased to more than a quarter, reports John Dunne for The Evening Standard.

The survey was conducted by FindASchool, a school-checking service working together with 192.com. Its goal is to assist parents in finding reliable data about schools in their neighborhoods.

Ed Rushton, the founder of FindASchool, described the problem as multi-faceted:

“It’s not just living too far from the school that sees parents missing out on a place – the complexity of the admissions system can also cause problems.”