Quality educational establishments attract parents wanting to live nearby, so affecting the property market
Homes near the country’s good and popular schools are increasingly being sought by property buyers, regardless of whether or not such schools have zoning policies.
Although most provinces no longer implement school zoning policies, schools sometimes give preference to pupils living close by, making admission periods even more stressful for parents.
The increase in traffic congestion, and added convenience in living close to school, are also reasons why properties near certain schools are in demand.
New research commissioned and released by online low-commission property company PropertyFox shows that, of the 65 top high schools – primarily public schools – a large percentage gave preference to pupils who lived nearby.
The company’s School Feeder Zones 2018 Guide shows that, when accepting new pupils:
Six schools (9%) specified their preferred suburbs.
Six schools (9%) specified their preferred primary feeder schools.
29 schools (44%) gave preference to pupils who lived nearby.
25 (38%) had no explicit zones.
PropertyFox founder and chief executive Crispin Inglis says it is hard for parents to get to grips with exactly where to buy property to have the best chance of being accepted into a specific school. He says it is a catch-22, because until they have an address and apply, they do not know if their children will be accepted.
“Catchment area information is extremely hard to find, so our aim with the guide was to give parents some direction as to how to approach their property search, or how to find a school near their home.”
The research, conducted in part by independent education researcher Kerry Petrie, also reveals average house prices in some of the top school suburbs, including Rondebosch and Durbanville in the Western Cape, Northcliff in Joburg, Glenwood in Durban, and Selborne in East London.
Petrie says admission policies in state schools are complex as a result of the country’s history.
“It is heartening that many schools have expanded – or are planning to expand – their radii to make sure they accept learners from further afield, giving people from diverse, less affluent suburbs access to the country’s top schools.”
Inglis points out the feeder zone guide is aimed squarely at property buyers in the market for a house in the R1.5million and above price level who want to buy near their school of choice.
From the research, some of the key findings are:
Although guided by the province, each school has jurisdiction over its admission policy as set by the school governing body. Living in a feeder catchment area is never a guarantee of admission, but is a contributing criterion.
Legislation varies from province to province about feeder zones.
When looking at provincial policies, the guide says:
In the Western Cape, there’s no explicit provincial feeder zone policy, but the research shows some governing bodies do sway preference towards certain areas.
KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape also don’t have explicit provincial feeder zone policies, but many schools do.
In the Free State, provincial policy gives preference to pupils living near schools.
In 2018, a default 5km radius for feeder zones applied in Gauteng.
The updated 2019 policy gives preference to pupils based in feeder zones, along with siblings, and pupils from primary schools that are closest to the high schools in the area.
The PropertyFox report also states that competition for top public schools is high, with many parents camping outside their desired schools all night, and some even moving as close to them as possible.
Research reveals selection trends
For the research, schools were ringfenced based on the following criteria:
● Achieved a 100% pass rate for the National Senior Certificate consistently since 2013.
● Achieved at least a 90% pass rate for the NSC consistently since 2015.
● Recognised for sporting achievements based on SA School Sports Magazine’s “Best Sports School in SA” ranking.
● 80% of the matric class achieving a bachelor’s pass (university exemption).
W Cape schools’
In the Western Cape, there are 27 schools – including some private schools – whose policies were featured in the research.
Twelve said they had no explicit school zoning policies while nine said they gave preference to children for whom the school was the closest to their place of residence. Just three schools gave preference to pupils who live in specific suburbs.
The findings also show that one school preferred to admit children from specific feeder primary schools. The remaining two schools, Springfield Convent and Herzlia School – due to their religious ethos – give preference to pupils who:
● Are Catholic or Jewish, respectively.
● Are children of past pupils.
● Have siblings at the school. Springfield Convent also admits pupils from disadvantaged communities.
The report shows the best school suburbs in the Western Cape – and the average cost of a three-bedroom home and average year-on-year property price growth – to be:
Durbanville: R2 735 200; 4.3%
Vredehoek: R5 471 500; 5.48%
Rondebosch: R3 890 632; 7.56%
Plumstead: R2 590 363; 8%
Wynberg: R2 148 750; 10.3%