Friday, February 24, 2006
Unintended Consequences- School Choice
We've blogged before about the Law of Unintended Consequences. That's where government enacts measures to "fix" one problem without regard for the knock-on consequences elsewhere.
The housing market is rife with such knock-ons: overly restrictive planning rules that limit supply and drive up prices, thereby pricing out "key workers"; punitive rates of Stamp Duty that discourage house moves, thereby progressively hobbling labour mobility; and the one that's in the news again this morning- school places "non-selectively" allocated by catchment area, with good schools then driving up local house prices, thereby excluding the poorer kids the allocation rule was supposed to help.
According to today's YouGov survey "parents are prepared to pay up to £43,000 extra for a house in the catchment area of a good state school. Parents in London and Scotland are willing to pay the most, while high earners are more likely to regard moving to a good catchment area as a worthwhile investment."
This confirms the results of previous studies. Last year Hometrack analysed "property price changes in the catchment areas of the ten most improved schools in England since 2001" and found "average property prices in the ten catchment areas have soared by 76 per cent since 2001, while in the surrounding areas, prices have only risen by 39 per cent. The most marked difference was seen at Sir John Cass Foundation and Redcoat Church of England Secondary School in Stepney Way, London, where property prices inside the catchment area soared by £77,718 compared to only £23,300 outside the area - a mammoth £54,418 difference."
As Tony blathers on yet again about "doing the right thing for the country" over school choice, you really have to wonder if any of this has percolated through to him. Of course, it will be tough for him to comprehend- with his £3.5m house Up West, a few measly quid to get your kids into Sir John Cass probably seems trivial. But down on Stepney Way, 54 grand is real money.
Government insistence on "non-selective" admissions policy means that Sir John Cass, and other improving state schools like it, are increasingly admitting children on the basis of parental means rather than ability. Just like those flagship comprehensives, with their affluent middle-class catchments, have always done. And those able kids whose parents cannot afford to buy in will increasingly pay the price.
Now, is that what we want? Cos that's what we're getting.
Posted by Mike D at 9:44 am