School Catchment Areas in West Yorkshire



School catchment areas are a hot topic for parents looking to move house. 

In fact, ONS research shows that homes closest to the best-performing schools typically cost more — and for good reason. A prospective pupil’s primary home address is a key admission criterion for state schools in the UK.

But what are school catchment areas? How do you know where the best schools are in West Yorkshire? And how should school catchment areas impact your decision-making when it comes to buying a property?

Understanding Catchment Areas

A school catchment area is the geographic location closest to a school. 

It may be defined by the school itself, or by the local council, and the distance included within a catchment area can vary between schools, depending on factors such as the local population density and distribution, and the places available at the school.

The catchment area is a major determinant of which pupils get a place at which schools — so for young families, picking a home within the catchment area of a highly-rated school can make an impact on the trajectory of their children’s educational outcomes.

Of course, the desire to be near a good school must be weighed against the increase in house prices in the catchment areas for those ‘good’ schools.

Overview of West Yorkshire’s Education System

Just like the rest of England, West Yorkshire has a system of primary and secondary schools. 

Primary and secondary state schools

Children attending state school in West Yorkshire start school in reception, typically the September after their fourth birthday, though they must be in full-time education by the term after their fifth birthday, and continue attending primary school for key stage one (reception, year one and year two) and key stage two (years three to six).

After primary school, children move to secondary school to continue their education through key stage three (years seven to nine) and key stage four (years ten and eleven, when children typically undertake GCSEs).

Types of state school

In England, children are entitled to a free place at a state school between the ages of 5 and 16. State schools are funded either through local authorities or directly by the government, and fall into several categories:

Community schools

Community schools are maintained and funded by the local authority. They follow the national curriculum and are not influenced by business or religious groups.

Foundation and voluntary schools

Foundation schools and voluntary schools are funded by the local authority. They follow the national curriculum but have more freedom to change the way they do things than community schools. They may be supported by representatives from religious groups

Academies and free schools

Academies and free schools are run by not-for-profit academy trusts.  They do not have to follow the national curriculum, and are independent from the local authority, with the freedom to change how they run things.

Grammar schools

Grammar schools can be funded and run by the local authority, a foundation body, or an academy trust. They select their pupils based on academic ability and there is a test to get in.

Alternatives to state school

You can always opt out of catchment area worries altogether with alternative schooling options, such as private school or homeschooling. 

Private or Independent schools are not government-funded, and instead charge fees to attend. They do not have to follow the national curriculum.

In homeschooling, or home education, parents must ensure their child receives a full-time education from the age of 5, but they do not have to follow the national curriculum.

Popular School Catchment Areas in West Yorkshire

Each year The Times ranks secondary schools throughout the UK in their Parent Power Guide league table. The top catchment areas for schools in West Yorkshire for 2024 are:


Heckmondwike Grammar School is a selective state school ranking 77 nationally. It is located in the historic market town of Heckmondwike, in Kirklees.


St Mary’s Menston is a comprehensive state school in the quiet and leafy Bradford suburb of Menston village, located near the banks of the river Wharfe. St Mary’s Menston ranks 222 nationally.


The spa town of Ilkley often tops best-place-to-live lists, thanks to its Victorian architecture, proximity to Ilkley Moor — and its school. Ilkley Grammar School is a comprehensive school ranking 242 nationally.


Halifax is a bustling mill town, surrounded by breathtaking countryside. The Crossley Health School is a selective grammar academy in Halifax, coming in at 257 in the national ranking, and the North Halifax Grammar School, a selective grammar school, comes in at 270.


Roundhay School, in the leafy North Leeds suburb of Roundhay, ranks 302 nationally and is a comprehensive community school. Roundhay is a family-friendly area, close to the culture of Leeds City Centre.

Prince Henry’s Grammar School

A busy market town, located between Leeds and Bradford, Otley is a great place to raise a family. Prince Henry’s Grammar School, a comprehensive academy, sits at 363 in the national rankings.

How Catchment Areas Influence Home Buying

Parents prioritise their children’s education, so school catchment areas can easily become a deciding factor for families when choosing where to settle down.

Along with job commitments, and ties to friends and family, living within the catchment area of a highly-rated state school can be a huge draw for parents.

Unfortunately, that also means that properties within those catchment areas are highly sought after, driving up prices and competition when it comes to securing a property. 

It is important to bear in mind, when choosing a property based on school catchment areas, that the catchment lines do change from time to time. Additionally, school admissions are based not just on the location of applications, but can also depend on factors such as siblings who already attend the school, attendance at a ‘feeder’ primary school, and even religion or exam results.

Researching Catchment Areas and School Admissions

It is important to conduct your own research on the catchment areas and rankings of schools in the area you are looking at moving to. You can contact your local council to find your closest state-funded schools and their admissions criteria.

You can use The Good Schools Guide to look up catchment area maps and school performance data. You can also research performance reports for specific schools directly with OFSTED

You can also ask friends and family in the local area for their opinions and experience with local schools. 

Tips for Moving to a New Catchment Area

It is important for parents considering a move to a new catchment area to do thorough research to understand whether this is the right move for the whole family.

Once the decision is made, you should prepare your property for sale, and potentially be prepared to sell quickly

At the same time, you’ll need to secure a mortgage-in-principle and begin viewing properties within your desired catchment area.


Getting into a good state school can give your child a huge advantage in life. Though not a guarantee of admission, living within the catchment area of a sought-after school can increase your child’s chances of attending.  

Ready to make the right move for your family? Talk to your local estate agent in West Yorkshire to help find your home in the right catchment area.

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