A survey by the Sutton Trust has revealed the extent to which middle class families are moving home to take advantage of the best schools and teachers.
Around one-third of professional parents with children aged between five and 16 have moved to a location which they believed to contain good schools. Some 18 per cent have moved into a specific school's catchment area.
YouGov obtained the data by interviewing 1,173 parents of school-age children. The findings reveal the disparity between different social classes in their employment of strategies that cost money to ensure their children receive the best education.
Some parents of children at state schools admitted to cheating the system, with two per cent buying a second home in a school's catchment area. Three per cent used a relative's address, and six per cent started attending church services so their child could attend a good school.
The report also looked into the factors parents consider when choosing a school for their children. Respondents who took into account five or more factors were classified as 'hyper choosers'; those that relied on one or none of the main sources were 'limited choosers'. Working class parents are more likely to be limited choosers than their wealthier counterparts.
Middle class parents were also more likely to pay for extra-curricular activities such as music and sporting lessons than those from working class backgrounds.
Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: "This research suggests that those with money actively choose to live near good schools, employ tutors and ensure their children have extra lessons and enrichment activities that are often too expensive for other families to afford."
The report's authors highlight the threat to social mobility which is posed by the findings, although they stress the results also show how working class parents use informed choice to make decisions.
Several recommendations are proposed to help remove impediments to social mobility. These include the introduction of random allocation methods for fairer admissions, means-tested vouchers for working class families to spend on extra tuition, books and cultural activities and better information about schools and free transport options being made available.
Posted by Tim Colman