Let Parents and Estate Agents Choose
Demo at Hove Town Hall
click the photo to see
a map of the catchment areas
The right to choose (in reality, a right to express
preferences) led to an increased demand for places at the best schools
and to persistent oversubscription: too many applicants for too few places.
LEAs have tried to meet this demand by increasing the size of these schools.
Dorothy Stringer, which has no sixth form, had 1567 places available
in 2006, compared with Falmer's 650. But there are limits, physical
and pedagogic, to the size a school can grow. So each year the over-subscription
is weeded out by the application of the criterion of the distance a child
lives from the school in question. Those nearer are preferred over those
living farther afield.This has led to an inflation in house prices in
the vicinity of the best schools.
In 2001 a study by the University of Warwick found that
living the right distance from the right school added between 15% and
19% to the price of otherwise similar homes. Of course, a Thatcherite
might say this is just another dimension of the right to choose and of
the hidden hand of the market at work!
The demand for a review of the secondary school
admissions procedure goes back to April 2005 when parents
in the Hanover & Elm
Grove and Queenspark wards complained that they were disadvantaged because
they were the most geographically distant from the city's secondary schools,
and therefore always lost out when the distant-from-school rule was applied.
Of course, following the closure of Comart, which put yet more pressure
on the remaining schools, especially the popular ones, this was factually
The Labour administration has promoted the new system
of catchment areas. What is not clear is whether the decision to approve
the plan for catchment areas will reduced disadvanatage or just move it