Getting into the catchment area of your child’s ideal secondary school

Adrian Anderson - Anderson Harris

Home » Getting into the catchment area of your child’s ideal secondary school

Published: 4th March 2022

This Article was Written by: Adrian Anderson


With the spring housing market on our doorstep, there’s a natural renewed vigour for buying and selling property.

Working back from the closing date for secondary school applications (31 October), it also means time is ticking for families who want to move into a property in the catchment area of their ideal school.

This means greater focus on those territories where the school has a good reputation. The housing stock here typically commands premium prices. You can understand why when only 81.1% of secondary school applicants in 2021 secured their first preference (down from 82.2% in 2020).

For empty nesters and those no longer needing the location for their children’s education, it can be an excellent time to sell. For those looking to move into that area, it’s wise to expect strong competition and ensure you have everything in place, such as property finance, to demonstrate you can support a quick purchase.

Having supported families moving into a catchment area ahead of their child’s transition to secondary school, here are 5 tips from the Anderson Harris team. They draw on our many years of experience.

1. Be clear of the catchment area’s exact territory

The school should be able to provide you with details of the catchment area. Be mindful that catchment areas can be fluid if the school needs to limit new intake numbers, for example if the year has a large number of siblings. Consider then being as close to the school as possible, rather than on the fringes of the current catchment area.

2. Expect to fulfil other selection criteria

Each school will publish its selection criteria for admissions and it is important to familiarise and comply with this to avoid disappointment. For example, church schools may require the family also regularly attends the local church of that faith.

3. Carefully weigh up the costs vs the benefits

While the cost of moving is higher than it was a year ago, given the end of the stamp duty holiday and interest rate rises, families can gain significant benefits by moving into the catchment area of their ideal secondary school.

Obviously, there are the educational benefits for their child. If the move is ahead of the first child’s transition to secondary school and there are siblings to follow, these benefits can extend longer-term to all the children. Most schools give a positive weighting in the admissions process to siblings.

4. Permanent abode

The address you give on your child’s school application must be their permanent place of residence. This aims to prevent families taking out temporary accommodation for the purpose of the admissions application process. Be mindful some schools may stipulate a minimum period of time for living at that residence. Evidence is usually submitted in the form of two documents showing your address in the period such as a utility bill, council tax letter, child benefit letter etc.

5. Prepare to act fast

Given the significant competition for housing stock in the catchment area of a highly sought-after school, those buyers who can assist the chain in a fast sale will be more attractive.

This means having clarity of your property finance approach for the purchase. Do make sure, however, that the mortgage product you favour is going to work for the family longer-term too. With interest rates changing so rapidly at present, this is important for the family’s long-term financial security and wellbeing. Talk to an independent broker like us, to discuss options.


The current population of children suggests there will be a continued rise of those seeking a secondary school place till the numbers peak in 2024. This will bring continued pressure on applications and possibly more families not securing their first choice.

If you are planning to move into the catchment area of your ideal secondary school, or are looking to sell a property in such a sought-after location, do contact one of the team for specialist property finance advice.

We can help you navigate the current mortgage landscape and support you in achieving your property dreams. Simply contact our team of specialists on tel. 020 7495 6633 or email

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