Smart moves to smart schools

Parents who now know which school their child will go to can find a new home online
From £319,995: The Mulberries, Little Canfield
From £319,995: The Mulberries, Little Canfield, Essex. Call 01279 871870
Living in the catchment area of a high-performing school is the top priority for many parents moving home.

Families often pay big premiums - typically, 16 per cent - while in certain "school hotspots", properties can cost twice the area average, according to Savills.

Housebuilders make the most of a development's proximity to a top school. Barratt has gone one step further by teaming up with the Good Schools Guide to offer a web-based school-finder service.

Would-be homebuyers visit www.barratthomes.co.uk, then enter a location or postcode. The search engine generates a list of the nearest schools.

Parents can filter the search by age range or type. By clicking on a school's name, parents can then get key details such as Sats results and exam performance, or go to the school's own website for even more information.

'We've introduced this service now because parents who want to move often start house-hunting in the spring'



Type in London postcode SW15, where Barratt will soon release an apartment scheme called Putney Square and the website reveals there are 60 schools within 1.48 miles. This area is part of the "Nappy Valley" swathe of Wandsworth borough.

"We've introduced this service now because parents who want to move in time for the new school year often start house-hunting in the spring," says Barratt director Dan Bridgett.

Cash-strapped parents who would have chosen an independent school are searching out selective grammars, which offer the "best of both worlds" - a top education that is free, according to Sue Fieldman, editor of the Good Schools Guide.

Increasingly, London families are moving out of traditional Tube line areas to Kent and Essex (especially Colchester and Chelmsford), which are particularly good for grammars.

Private schools in Wandsworth for children aged five to 11 cost about £4,000 a term per child, or more than £30,000 a year for two children. So if parents can get them into a good state school they could save a huge amount, which may compensate for paying extra for their property in the first place.

To find a home near a good school, visit www.homesandproperty.co.uk/sales.

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