The Ofsted effect

Competition for school places has been steadily rising over the last 20 years or so, making it harder than ever to get your child into your first-choice school.

One of the biggest factors schools take into account is whether you live within their catchment area, with many parents choosing to move house purely to improve their chances of getting their child into a good school.
But how much does it cost to live near the best schools in the country? To find out, we’ve analysed how house prices in areas with schools rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted compare to those in the wider area.

The cheapest and most expensive cities to live near an outstanding school

Sunderland is the city where you’ll pay the least to live near an outstanding school, with properties in these areas costing an average of £117,747.
However, in Western Central London, properties in the postcode sectors which contain outstanding schools have an average value of just under £1.5 million!
But how do property prices near these schools compare within the towns and cities themselves?

The area where you could pay the biggest premium to secure a spot at a good school is Warrington, Cheshire, where houses usually cost around £243,000. In the areas containing outstanding schools, this rises by a third, to £322,321.
On the other hand, there are 27 postal areas where homes near the top schools are actually cheaper on average.

For example, in East Central London the average property is £919,000, although this is perhaps skewed by a few ultra-expensive homes in the wealthiest parts of the city, as prices in the postcode sectors with outstanding schools are over 30% less, at £632,333.

While this may be something of an anomaly, it’s a similar situation in areas such as Wolverhampton, where houses in the catchment areas of outstanding schools were 21% cheaper than the average for the area.

The cheapest and most expensive cities to live near an outstanding school ranked

Areas with the best schools

Given that London has a population of around nine million people, it’s little surprise that the majority of outstanding schools are located in the capital. There are 522 across the city’s eight postal areas, as well as more in Greater London.
However, the single postal area with the greatest number of outstanding schools is actually Birmingham, with 158. South West London is second with 111 and Newcastle upon Tyne is third with 108.

Areas with the highest number of outstanding schools

Brought to you by our mortgage experts.


Using Land Registry data we found the average house price in each postcode sector (that’s a postcode to four digits, such as SW1A 0) that contained a school which was rated as outstanding by Ofsted in its most inspection.

Please note that we took the 3,715 schools listed as Outstanding on Ofsted’s website as of 28/02/2020, so some schools may be missing. In addition, if there was more than one school registered on the same premises (for example a nursery and primary school) we treated this as one school.

We then compared this to the average house price in the postal area (a postcode to two digits, such as SW).