What lengths would you go to to make sure your child got a place at the best state school near you? Rent a house nearby? Send them to live with grandparents in the catchment area, use a childminder’s address or lie about them being baptised?
If the latest figures revealed by education newspaper Schools Week are anything to go by then more and more parents are being caught using these and other deceptive means to get places at top schools. This doesn’t mean more parents are doing it – it just means more are being found out.
The stats compiled by Freedom of Information have revealed that in 2013 at least 470 allegations of fraud around school places were investigated and in 2014 the figure had over doubled to 1,232.
In total 696 children in the last 3 years have even lost school places – some after starting the school term.
While the Department for Education points out the number of fraudulent claims for places are proportionately very small – there were 623,000 schools admissions in total last year – Shadow Education Secretary Lucy Powell has pointed the finger of blame at the Government. “The pressure on admissions is growing because of the chronic shortage in places with parents increasingly desperate as a result.
“It is simply unacceptable that fair school admissions is increasingly a postcode lottery under the Tories.”
And a head teacher at one of the best schools in Nottinghamshire, Mr McDonough, has suggested there’s not enough of a penalty for parents who try to bluff the system. He told Schools Week: “The message to parents is “you have nothing to lose’”. The worst that can happen is if they are found out they will be back at the start of the admissions process. If they submit a fraudulent application… there should be at least a fine.”
Is he right?