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Is Comprehensive Education Really Free? New Case Study of House Prices near Popular Schools Says No

Originally Published 2 April 2001

Researchers from the University of Warwick's Department of Economics has revealed the real cost to parents wishing to access the best available comprehensive school education for their children. Their study reveals that parents are willing to pay a premium sometimes in excess of £20,000 to obtain a house in the catchment area of favoured schools.

The researchers, Dr Dennis Leech and Erick Campos, made a case study of how housing costs in the City of Coventry are affected by the catchment areas of two of the city's most successful and thus most popular Comprehensive schools - Coundon Court and Finham Park. Both schools regularly receive more first preference requests from potential pupils wishing to study at the school than they have places available.

In 1999 Coundon Court received 412 applications for 270 places whilst Finham Park received 317 request for 230 places. As the principle criteria the schools use to resolve this over popularity is whether the prospective pupil lives within the schools catchment area the economists thought this may put a premium on house prices within those areas.

The economists made a detailed analysis of advertised house prices in Coventry. After eliminating the normal causes of house price variation (number of rooms, type of house, extra garaging, area effects other than school catchment area etc), they discovered that location within the catchment area of these two schools did significantly affect house prices. Location with Coundon Court's catchment area added 19% to the cost of the house whilst location with Finham Parks' catchment added 15% to the cost.

When the house price data was collected (July 2000) this meant that a house in the Coundon or Radford areas of Coventry outside the catchment of Coundon Court School cost on average £53,510, while one within the catchment area cost on average £10,006 more at £63,677. The effect was even more pronounced for houses in the Allesley/Eastern Green area of the city where houses outside the Coundon Court School catchment went for £111,199 on average, but those inside the catchment cost on average £132,327 a leap of £20,794. For Finham Park School it was found that houses in the Earlsdon area of the city outside Finham's catchment cost on average £97,362 whilst those within the schools catchment cost £14,575 more at £111,937.

In short the best available comprehensive education may not be as free as we think - parents in Coventry seem willing to pay up to ?20,000 to enhance their children's prospects within the system.

For further information contact:

Dr Dennis Leech, Dept of Economics, University of Warwick
Tel 024 76523047 Office 024 76 677549 Home

Further information about the above press release and all other media services at the University of Warwick can be obtained from:

Peter Dunn, Press Officer
Public Affairs Office
Senate House
University of Warwick
Coventry, CV4 7AL
West Midlands
Tel: 024 76 523708