Rachel Johnston, Regional Director of Stacks Property Search & Acquisition’s Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire office says, “It’s becoming quite unusual to send one’s children away with a trunk, and not to see them again until the next holidays.
There is a growing trend for parents to opt for day prep and public schools, and existing schools are embracing parental involvement and access to children. Parents are becoming part of the pastoral curriculum, and even at boarding schools, parental involvement during term time is required on a much more frequent basis than two or three years ago.
“It is becoming an increasing trend amongst families to first select the school they wish their children to attend, and for this choice to then dictate the area in which they live, rather than leisure, family or even work issues. Consequently, there is a growing demand for family houses providing spacious accommodation in rural areas, within half an hour’s radius of both day schools and boarding schools.
Viewed in these terms, savvy London parents have already realised that basing the family in Northamptonshire provides the magic formula of access to good schools, plenty of property for your money, AND a tolerable daily commute back into London !
Top flight schools such as Oundle & Uppingham are conveniently just north of the county, with Stowe School to the South. Bedford Girls School, Bedford School and Bedford Modern are all in demand to the East; whilst Bloxham and Tudor Hall are just into Oxfordshire.
As a result of years of Stacks’ experience in helping families move to meet their children’s schooling needs, Rachel Johnston provides further insight :
- In the long term, houses in good catchments hold their value, and if you want a good family house within half an hour’s drive of a good school, don’t waste your time looking for a bargain – expect to pay a substantial premium.
- There is a micro-market in houses of certain quality in the vicinity of certain schools. These properties may bypass the estate agents, often being traded at the school gates.
- If you want an investment that’s likely to see excellent capital growth, you can gamble on a school that you think is likely to grow in popularity. Inside information here is invaluable.
For instance, Winchester House, always a popular choice, has now become a rapidly rising star in the educational firmament. Local parents have known this for some time but now London parents have cottoned on and demand for places is becoming as hotly sought after as are good houses within a 30 minutes drive.
Likewise historic Princethorpe College (pictured above) has always been a gem of a day school, but the new Head, formerly a Deputy Head at Rugby School, has been driving up academic standards which sees admission to the College in greater demand than ever.
But, be warned, says Rachel, selecting a school as the basis of your house search can be a dangerous strategy. If your heart is set on one school, you may find that your child doesn’t get in or that the school’s position in the league tables changes. It may be a safer approach to select an area that has a raft of good schools, and provides plenty of choice, both state and private, for all different ages. This does then provide you with flexibility, allowing for over- or under-achieving children, and potential change in fortunes.
Popular Private Schools that are attended by Northamptonshire pupils, and their websites.
If you are wondering how to include your children in the buying process, Rachel has further advice. but if you don’t need to include schooling in your search, you would still be well-advised to do the research : here’s why…