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Do school catchments put a premium on East Lothian property?

24 Sep 2018

As we previously explored, parents are paying as much as a 50% premium to live near the top performing Scottish schools. In Edinburgh, James Gillespie’s and Boroughmuir High School heavily influence the local property market. This is no bad thing, prices continue to rise and parents making the investment in their children’s education are of course making an investment in the housing market at the same time. But what about other areas? Coulter’s moved into East Lothian earlier this year with the opening of our North Berwick office and we wondered if the same effect was felt on the East Lothian property market.

East Lothian Catchment Areas

Secondary school areas in East Lothian Council are divided into six catchments:

  • Dunbar Grammar
  • Knox Academy
  • Musselburgh Grammar
  • North Berwick High
  • Preston Lodge High
  • Ross High

How do East Lothian schools compare?

One school in the East Lothian council area features on the list of the top state schools in Scotland for 2017. North Berwick High School is number 16 on the list with 60% 5+ Highers, according to The Herald Scotland. This is two places above Edinburgh’s James Gillespie’s High School. Bouroughmuir High School, also in Edinburgh, is ranked number 4 with 74% 5+ Highers.

Do the catchment areas influence East Lothian property prices?

Edinburgh is a fairly large city with a number of big schools, so it is not surprising that those ranked highly will influence the local housing market. East Lothian property appears to be similarly affected, despite being a much less densely concentrated area.

House prices in East Lothian are generally higher than the Scottish average and there are many great reasons why. Nicola Noble, mortgage director at Bank of Scotland, said in a recent report, “Living on the coast offers many attractions, including a typically high quality of life and attractive surroundings. As a result, property in seaside towns is often very popular with homebuyers. Whilst property in seaside towns can be more expensive than elsewhere, exceptional value for money can still be found for those searching to realise their dream of living near the sea.”

Taking North Berwick (where our East Lothian office is located!) as an example, the high school must be a contributing factor in the increased house prices. With North Berwick High school being ranked so highly in the list of top state schools in Scotland, the area is a more desirable catchment area than others in the region and there is a significant difference in house prices. For example, if you are looking to buy a new CALA property in East Lothian, you could be looking to pay around £469,000 for a 5 bedroom detached home in Dunbar, and for the exact same house type in North Berwick you could pay as much as £605,000, almost 29% more.

Sending your child to a non-catchment school.

It is possible to put in a request to send your child to a non-catchment school should you wish to do so and in most cases, these are granted. Priority is given to pupils living in the catchment area however when there are more placement requests than places available, the Head of Education has final say on who gets a place.

This is unlike busy cities such as Edinburgh, where you would generally have to live within a specific catchment area in order for your children to attend the school.

More homes require more schools

Plans were lodged for 1,500 homes and a new school on the edge of Musselburgh earlier this year. Persimmon Homes is hoping to get the go-ahead from East Lothian Council for the mixed-use development, which includes a commercial hub with a hotel, retail facilities and cafe/restaurant.

Our North Berwick office, headed up by East Lothian property expert and local Sophie Duns, is open for business and we are delighted to have a number of properties on the market in the area now. If you are planning to buy or sell, give us a call and see what we can do for you!