state schools in london. did you rent in the catchment or know people who did?

(114 Posts)
cheapandchic Wed 02-May-12 15:51:29

I have realised that where my home is positioned I most likely have no chance at getting into any of the schools that I want. I do not want to send my child to the school nearest me.

is it worth letting my house and moving closer? has anyone done this? how far in advanced to you have to do it? can you move out once that are in?

littleducks Wed 02-May-12 16:04:33

Sort of.

We needed to move areas, so got a house in a good position, near 3 good schools. Our application was late (council needed us to be physically moved in and paying council tax) and so dd did 1 term of reception at a further out school till she got a place from the waiting list.

I just accepted a place for ds at the same school, we have lived there nearly 2 years now. We will probably move (contract up for renewal soon) before he starts school on September, this may or may not be in catchment area depending what is on rental market at the time.

His place will not be taken away, regardless of where we move to.

BeingFluffy Wed 02-May-12 16:06:49

I have known people doing that for certain primaries in my area. In fact one is so notorious for it that they ask for the property deeds or rental agreement when the child applies.

I admit I did consider it when my elder child applied to secondary school - in the end my conscience got the better of me, as I knew I would be depriving someone more in need than us and in the end I let fate decide and in the end fate came up with a good option!

If you are going to do it - do so at least a year before the application deadline and hang on there for at least a couple of terms after your child has started the school. Bear in mind that catchment areas suddenly shrink and that if you have more than one child - some schools don't have sibling policies.

I don't mean to be rude but if you can afford the expense of moving and renting, why don't you go private and save yourself the hassle?

SchoolsNightmare Wed 02-May-12 17:50:52

If you do it, you need to genuinely move into the rented home. Hanging on to your old house though will hamper you as the LA can make a decision about which is your true address (and decide that suspiciously renting in catchment just before applications are due makes this a false address even if you are actually living there fulltime).

For example they will ask for council tax documents to confirm your address but they cross check these against council tax records on other properties you may own or have lived in. They can also, if not convinced, ask for other proof eg which Dr you are registered with etc. This doesn't seem to be universal but London does more checks because London has more school place issues than just about anywhere else. If you look at the admission booklet for the borough you are moving to in London it will often say something like:

"The address on the form must be your child’s permanent place of residence. It should not be a business, relative or carer/childminder’s address. You are not permitted to use a temporarily rented address to secure a school place for your child. The Local Authority will investigate any cases:
• where there are any doubts
• where information has been received from a school or member of the public to suggest a fraudulent application has been made
• where records show a recent change of address.
The Local Authority reserves the right to seek evidence from parents, Council records, primary schools or any other source deemed appropriate. We may also make a home visit and refer cases to the borough’s investigation officers where benefits are being paid. An application that uses false information may be subject to legal proceedings. If an application is found to be fraudulent after a place has been offered, the place will normally be withdrawn."

As you can see it is all full of dire warnings that this is not allowed but you can get around it by either genuinely moving house and selling your current house or renting longer term and in the meantime renting out your own house to tenants and changing your address on everything.

I am not condoning it although I understand your worries but it is not permitted in London so if you go this route, you are going to have to do something more permanent than just rent a flat and camp out in it for a few months.

Blu Wed 02-May-12 18:26:18

I know two famililes (not my close friends) who have done it at secondary level and I don't know how they manage it with their children, whether they involve them in the deception, tell them not to tell friends they are moving back to their old house, maybe they actually lie to thier children, I don't know.

cheapandchic Thu 03-May-12 09:29:35

We do not have the money for private. I would rent our house and use that rent to pay for the new one. We would move properly.

I was just wondering how long we might have to stay...

I am so stressed about this. I have visited 4 schools now, but it is all pointless... as actually because of my location I have no choice at all. Why have 6 choices on the application when I can only get into one school that is horrible!

KandyBarr Thu 03-May-12 09:32:08

I know a few people who've done this - it's a hassle, expensive, stressful but most concede it's worth it. And whether or not it's right from a moral point of view, it is within the rules. If you decide to go ahead, you'll meet plenty of other parents who have done the same.

Fluffy - the reason tends to be because, even after the hassle and expense of moving temporarily, it's cheaper than forking out for private schools for several DCs over the course of seven years for primary and six for secondary. Good preps in my part of London cost around £10k a year. So two children for prep alone = £140k. You can see the attraction.

SchoolsNightmare Thu 03-May-12 10:31:01

Nobody has 6 choices though really - well maybe if you are Catholic and pass two Grammar school tests and live near enough to 2 comps to get in and also have an undersubscribed comp further out.... then you might have 6 realistic options but very few people fall into that category.
Most people have 1-3 realistic schoices at best. Some people have none.

As Kandy says - it is within the rules to do as you plan as long as you rent your own home out (or sell it), change your address on everything and genuinely move into the new house for the duration.
You would need to do it late Summer before you apply (application deadline is October but you'd need to be living there with proof by this date and have your 'real' house rented out by then because of these checks) and you would probably want to stay there for the first term or at least half term of the new school because any change of address before could spark an investigation at which point they'd see your new address was in fact your old address and you would lose your place under the London rules about not renting to gain a place.
So about 14 months minimum. You might get away with less if it wasn't London and if it wasn't for the extra checks.

prh47bridge Thu 03-May-12 10:52:13

The problem you face with this is that if you subsequently move back into your old home the authorities are entitled to decide that you used an incorrect address and withdraw your child's place. They can do that even if your child is already attending the school. Believe me, it does happen.

Most LA's are on the lookout for people temporarily renting in order to get a place at a popular school. And there is always the risk that someone will report you to the LA, particularly if they think they missed out on a place because of your actions.

Contrary to KandyBarr's comment, it is NOT within the rules. Of course, some people get away with it but there are no guarantees.

SchoolsNightmare Thu 03-May-12 12:25:32

Sorry if I have given duff information. I thought it was one of those areas where technically it might be allowed if you kept up the pretence for long enough even though morally it is wrong (I think). I don't know what would be 'long enough' to be safe because, under the rules, anytime you move back to your old house, it becomes pretty obvious that the reason for renting was school place allocation and as prh says, this is not allowed.
And in London, the admission booklet spells out that this is not allowed (unlike other areas where it may not be acceptable but isn't emphasised so much as a breach of the rules).

If you stayed at the rented house for a long time then you'd probably have a much higher chance of getting away with it because they're not really going to withdraw a place from a year 8 or 9 pupil (probably) but I live in London as well so I know for a fact that not only are the authorities red hot on this issue but, if any other parent gets wind of what you are doing, they will inform the council in a heartbeat.
You'd have to tell your children that the old house was sold else expect them to lie to their friends both at Primary and at the new school. You may trust your immediate friends not to tell the plan but they tell other friends who tell other friends who have the same catchment area worries as you do and that's how the council finds out.

Places are just so scarce epsecially at popular schools. If you are going to cheat carefully (which is what this is really) you have to be prepared for the fact that it will take a lot of lying and planning and it may backfire on you in the sense that you can have the place taken away from you as soon as you inform the school of your new address (which any quick check will reveal is in fact your old address).

PanelChair Thu 03-May-12 12:27:48

Prh47bridge is right.

It's not the fact of renting that's the issue. After all, plenty of people live in rented property. Nor is moving home the issue. Plenty of people move home. It's the renting for a short time with no other purpose but to get into an oversubscribed school. LEAs are not stupid and are getting increasingly wise to the "I had a massive row with my husband and moved with my three children into my friend's one bed room flat, right next door to my favourite school, a fortnight before applications were due, but now a month after the start of term we've miraculously been reconciled and are living 3 miles from the school" sort of fabrication.

PanelChair Thu 03-May-12 12:32:46

SchoolsNightmare - Yes, I think you are right. Where LEAs have set out rules on what counts as a permanent address, it may be possible to comply with the letter of those rules and so get away with it, however cynical or fraudulent the reasons for the house move were. But, as I said, LEAs seem to be less gullible these days about 'convenient' moves of house and seem more willing to check them out and, in the most blatant cases of fraud, to take places away.

BeattieBow Thu 03-May-12 12:38:29

I know people who have done this - have rented out their house and moved in (in some cases with another family) to a teeny flat in the catchment of a school. I already know of one family that rented a flat but never lived in it to get into a primary. Their child is now in y6 and the other parents stil haven't really forgiven them! (including the parent of another child who didn't get into the school until y4 and who still blames this other family for that). you know its not very moral don't you? also people do tell on you, and the schools do find out.

I moved into London and was able to think about where I would be renting in relation to schools, and was fortunate in this case that it all happened at the right time. But I still feel a bit guilty about it even though it's all legit. I mean to stay in the area though long term and am not intending to move out of the local area (even though I may be beyond the teeny tiny catchment).

Also, the other point to remember is that the school could always change its policy in the future as regards siblings, so you may not be assured a place for any siblings.

KandyBarr Thu 03-May-12 13:29:20

prh is it really not possible to catchment-rent within the rules? How could you be penalised if you let your house, moved your family to home next to desired school in time for admissions criteria, and stayed living there, not returning to family home until DC well-established at the desired school?

I've never heard of a child being booted out of a school - either through my DCs schools or through stories in local or national papers (doubtless such organised parents would be straight on the blower to the Daily Mail).

I've known four families catchment-rent in London within LA criteria to get their DCs into heavily oversubscribed schools - might be questionable from a moral point of view, but how could their children be booted out if their parents complied with admission requirements?

Sorry but do you mean renting a place, not living in it and telling the school a month later that you have moved?
So you get into a school under false pretenses taking away a place from a child who actually lives in the catchment area?

Are you looking for someone to actually agree that's a good idea?

We moved into a different area when dd was 2.
We actually looked at schools, decided where we would like her to go, and moved in- to actually live there.
I think it's pretty awful to even consider this tbh

breadandbutterfly Thu 03-May-12 13:41:21

I know a family that did this but am not sure if they sold their first place or rented it out. Don't think they felt guilty. Possibly nervous in case the eldest lost his place if he moved too early - I know they had to live in this fairly nasty inconvenient area for 2 years to prevent that. But all their 4 kids are now guaranteed a place at that school. Still, I know having to live on top of the school for 2 years (a pretty long time) - good school but the immediate area not very nice - was a pain for them.

What I'm not clear about though is if there are no good schools near you and you would move into another area, why are you holding onto your current house and renting it out, instead of selling it and buying in your preferred area near good schools? is the area much worse than your current area? Or are house prices much more? Still, why not sell if you're genuinely planning to move?

You'd have to move before making applications - but for popular schools it might be checked up on both that you have genuinely moved but also that you stay in that house for at least the first year of your dc's school life there - certainly cases of kids being chucked out in firat year if the renting is seen as not genuine; for some popular schools just owning a property elsewhere will be seen as ties to your old property so you would be excluded automatically.

O2BNormal Thu 03-May-12 14:03:28

Tanturms I'm not sure how yo can be so moralistic about it. You might have done it earlier, but if you chose the area simply for the school you did exactly the same thing - you're just able to feel all smug about it

It's just wrong, the system's wrong, but the whole "I must get my child into this school" thing is basically you (everyone) saying my child and what I want for him is far more important than any other child. Nice.

SchoolsNightmare Thu 03-May-12 14:11:35

No tantrum - even if you genuinely live in the rented house it is not allowed (and I agree with you - it is immoral even if you manage to keep up the pretence for so long that the LA decide they cannot withdraw your place by the time you come clean about moving back to your real home)

Rented houses are no problem - many people live in rented houses and this is their "real" address - their "real" home. But if you rent a house near to a school and keep your old house that's when it's a problem.
Because then the rented house isn't your real address. You have no intention of making it your home. It is just a place you live in for a year or so with the express intention of grabbing a good school place from some other family who do actually live closer than you.

And if the LA can prove that (or find out about it from another family) they can and do take away places. I know that London chase up suspicious house moves by checking council tax records. If you log a change of address shortly before you apply for school places, they will query this. Of course you can lie but if they are suspicious they can see from council tax records where you used to live and digging a bit deeper will show that you still in fact own this home.

BeingFluffy Thu 03-May-12 14:18:30

Effectively buying a place at school by moving and renting is an option not open to those in social housing, or those just making ends meet (moving fees, deposits, letting agents etc). Whether it is morally worse than feigning a religious belief for years, tutoring your child from the age of 5 or nurturing the various aptitudes that schools select on, I can't really say. It just appears that the wealthier you are the more you can manipulate the system in your favour and that seems bloody unfair!

SchoolsNightmare Thu 03-May-12 14:24:35

And everyone always says 'it is the system that is wrong' to excuse all sorts of wrong doing but actually the system is as fair as it can be - especially if people don't try to cheat it. How else could allocations be decided that was any fairer?..

...and I say this as someone who didn't get offered the school they wanted (or any of their 6 choices in fact) because of where I live. My local school is full with siblings and with people who live closer that I do. There has to be a way to allocate school places that recognises not everyone will get their choice - it is just not possible.
I may not be happy but having gone through 2 months of waiting lists and worry and preparing for appeals, I wouldn't wish it on anyone and I wouldn't deliberately subject another family to that by cheating them out of the place that was righfully theirs....

... so I do feel qualified to be moralistic about it because even having had the worst outcome (no school offer at all followed by an offer miles away to a school we didn't even list), I still don't think that this outcome justifies forcing someone else into that position instead of me.

Crouchendmumoftwo Thu 03-May-12 14:36:35

I don't think it's wrong at all. I know people who do it who are not wealthy at all and some are teachers. From my perspective we rented because our flat was too small and in a rough area with not great schools. We couldnt buy a house as we are self employed so we were forced to rent to move. We did it for more than a schools reason and we are now living in a big house in a lovely area and are into a fantastic school.
It is hard but it is our choice and it cost us approximately 10k to do it, sweat and tears doing up my flat to move, our rent doent cover the rent where we moved to, we have to fix all the problems in our old place and we can't do much in the rented place. The place we moved into was a disgusting dirty mess and we paid over £2k to make it decent of our own money. I work like mad trying to earn money and we are super stressed and have debts.
We chose to have children and we chose this route. Its hard but it is much nicer where we live, we wont ever move back. But it's not ideal. These are the choices we make and we are not helpless. Having a child is a choice and you cant blame everyone around you, you just have to get on with it. If we hadnt moved I would have been on waiting lists and that would have been ok, I know plenty of people who have done this and moved.

SchoolsNightmare Thu 03-May-12 14:49:57

Crouchend - I don't think you can argue this option is available to all concerened parents when you admit it cost you £12k to do it!
I didn't really understand from your post whether you cheated or genuinely moved and then moved again (as opposed to moving out then moving back into your original home again once schols were sorted).

There is a difference between a house move motivated by school places (perhaps also wrong but the price you pay is having to move home and a lot of hassle) and moving out for a year then going back home again (where all it costs you is cash and inconvenience but directly deprives another child of a place).

If the school system operated so that every school was forced to accept all pupils within a 1km radius, then there would be no losers as such if people effectively camped out in a flat for a year. But because school place numbers are limited, every place that goes to somebody cheating is a place that doesn't go to another child who genuinely qualified for it.
People seem to be saying that any system that doesn't agree that their child should be the one who qualifies for the best school is a system that it is justifiable to cheat which is horrible. You only have to look on the primary school boards to see the worry and real hardship missing out on your local school can cause people.

Not to mention the bad karma!

SchoolsNightmare Thu 03-May-12 14:51:19

bad karma for cheating that is!

BeattieBow Thu 03-May-12 14:58:34

crouchend that's why its immoral - most people simply can't afford it, and end up in those schools which the OP is presumably desperate to avoid.

fwiw having had 2 children go through primary school now, I really don't think that I would even contemplate this for primary school. It is immoral (imo) and dangerous, but I simply don't think that it is worth it for primary school. Your child will be fine and there is no problem with going on a waiting list if you still want to move. I can understand the desire/need more for secondary schools.

crouchendmum1 Thu 03-May-12 15:09:06

We did it because we wanted to move and renting is the only way and the school prompted us to do so. We moved to an area and hoped we would land near a good school we didnt pick it. People assume we moved because of the school which we didn't wholly. That money has put us in a lot of debt to move. People can move though and you just have to plan it and save for it work etc. Saying most people cant afford it, Im sure they could actually make it happen if they wanted to, we hardly earn anything we just had to do it. Im going to sound very Jeremy Kyle, but if you decide to have kids, these are the things you should take into consideration before having them ie not having money to make lifestyle choices. Kids cost money so dont have them in a area outside of a catchment of decent schools or if you do decide that you will make the best of them. Im sure it will all work out for you anyway.

SchoolsNightmare Thu 03-May-12 15:23:42

Kids cost money so dont have them in a area outside of a catchment of decent schools

Social engineering based on catchment areas!! What happens if the local school goes downhill though? Do parents have to allow their kids to be adopted by a new family that can offer them a decent catchement area?!

In seriousness though - work or social housing means many people cannot move no matter how much they want to. If your accomodation comes with your job or you live in a council house or if you live with extended family (or many other reasons), you cannot just up and move no matter how much you love your kids and care about their schooling.

Codandchops Thu 03-May-12 15:32:01

Am I a really nasty person for hoping it bites people on the bum?

That the good school they cheated their way into ends up going downhill within 2 years.

I saw a documentary about this three years ago - some silly cow woman moved her family of four kids from a spacious semi into a two bedroom flat opposite a school so her PFB would be guaranteed a place while the family up the road who had lived in the area for years missed out. I so hoped the silly cow in the flat ended up desperate with overcrowding and very negative equity. That would have been karma.

The head teacher just said that families do not realise that if they are interested in their child's education and support then then they will do well in any school.

prh47bridge Thu 03-May-12 15:52:52

KandyBarr - Renting close to the school in order to get a place and then returning to the family home once the place is secured is definitely against the rules. Many LAs would want to see that the family home has been sold or is on a long term rent before accepting a rented address.

And yes, I do know of children being booted out of school, although it is more common for the LA to discover the problem in time to withdraw the place before the start of term. I doubt the national press would be interested - "child loses school place because the parents made a fraudulent application" isn't much of a story really.

ethelb Thu 03-May-12 15:57:03

what if you don't own a home and honestly chose to rent in a place with a good school?

What's the mroality of that?

DinahMoHum Thu 03-May-12 16:04:34

its hardly new or outrageous. People wanting to move to areas in the catchment of good schools. I would do it.

BeingFluffy Thu 03-May-12 16:33:34

There is nothing wrong about moving to the catchment area of a good school. What some people find morally wrong is renting a flat in the catchment area of a good school, which maintaining a permanent home elsewhere, just to get into that school and moving back later on.

SchoolsNightmare Thu 03-May-12 16:33:43

ethelb - that's fine. It would afterall be your own home and your 'real' home. It isn't the same as having 2 homes.

Dinah - I don't think moving for schools is new but cheating or side stepping the rules is fairly new (or new in terms of how many people seem to admit to wanting to do it).

BeingFluffy Thu 03-May-12 16:36:50

Do schools actually catch people out or is it just a threat? Apart from the LEA trying to prosecute someone in north London and failing, I have heard of no cases in recent years. There was a famous case of a headteacher at a primary in London a few years ago, using the caretakers flat address at her school to get a place at Lady Margaret. She was caught and the daughter's place withdrawn during her first term there, I believe.

OhDearConfused Thu 03-May-12 17:10:17
SchoolsNightmare Thu 03-May-12 17:49:49

There are cases ever single year Fluffy but normally it isn't as dramatic as a child being chucked out of a school and the parents prosecuted. Normally what happens is that after allocations are made, other parents get suspicious because they know that child X lives further away from the school than they do so they query how come child X got a place and they didn't.

Then the LA look into the address of child X and realise that actually child X's family only moved there in the past year. So then they check council tax records and if necessary other records and realise it is a cheat and simply withdraw the place. No big court case, no being marched out of the school gates or anythign like that.

Child X's parents can then appeal and try to prove that the newly rented house is in fact their real house and they fully intend to stay there. If they are hanging on to their old house they are unlikely to convince a panel of this and they therefore lose the school place.

Blu Thu 03-May-12 18:01:43

There's a difference between withdrawing the place and a successful prosecution.

IIIRR, three have been cases where the place was withdrawn but fraud prosecution not successful.

Children were marched out of a playground in a primary school in Southwark a few years ago, but I think that was using a relative's address rather than renting.

BeingFluffy Thu 03-May-12 18:04:45

Thanks for the info Schools Nightmare.

I was a member of a primary schools appeals panel last year where someone tried to appeal for two different schools on the same day which are in the same borough but quite a way apart, using two different addresses! One was their own flat and one was a flat where the grandparents lived, where he claimed the child had suddenly moved to! Trying to hedge his bets no doubt. Needless to say he failed on both!

Blu Thu 03-May-12 18:32:42

Ha, I would love to have seen his face when you greeted him on the second panel, BeingFluffy!

BeingFluffy Thu 03-May-12 20:25:55

Yep Blu, he was squirming all right! He stated that the original address was his "official" flat that he owned and he brought along something from the Land Registry. It was just outside the catchment of the most popular school in the borough unfortunately for him. For the second one, a school which has suddenly become popular since it's "Outstanding" Ofsted he came up with a story about how they had decided the child should live with his grandparents as the mum (who wasn't present) couldn't cope. We did question him about what address the child benefit etc was paid to and he kept changing his story. Ironically the school he had been allocated was equidistant from both addresses but doesn't have the "Outstanding" tag.

PanelChair Thu 03-May-12 20:29:15

That is the best (for which read worst) appeal story I've heard in a long while!

KandyBarr Thu 03-May-12 21:15:05

prh Sorry - I still don't understand how LAs could possibly prove that owning a second property that's rented out means your child's place has been allocated outside the rules. I mean, are you seriously claiming that when families move back to their house a year or two later, the children are booted out of their schools?

I've never known that to happen or even heard of it happening - and that's precisely why parents do it, because they can and do get away with it. Nightmare is right - they then shrug and blame the system.

I don't see any evidence of any rigor on the part of those who are meant to enforce admissions rules - my DS's school in Wandsworth is vastly oversubscribed, and no end of parents catchment-rent. None of them has ever lost a place or had a place withdrawn that I've heard of. In fact - it's regarded as a tiresome thing one must do, rather than anything to be hidden or done covertly.

Goldenbear Fri 04-May-12 02:06:20

I live in Brighton where people also do this. My DS is in reception year at an outstanding primary school. We moved tto a flat that we intended to buy but this was situated around the corner from the school. Obviously, we wanted our son to go to a good school - why wouldn't we? We had sold our flat and rented a flat near the school, with the intention of buying but a complication arose because the lease needed extending and this was going to cost a lot more than we were originally told. The flat had very bad damp problems and I had just had a baby so we decided not to buy it after all. Our DS got a place at the school and we moved out of the catchment. We moved to another 2 bedroom flat without damp. We are hardly living the life of Riley!

We live in an area now where the nearest school is Catholic, the next 2 nearest schools are outstanding. One is considered better than the school my DS attends but we can't move him as there are no places at the schools. My partner is Jewish so we would never consider a religious school.

I know a few people from DS's nursery that didn't get places at DS's school, that missed out by a few yards but they are all well off, well established in their jobs, old enough to have bought property ie family houses when they were affordable- to some extent pure fluke due to age, say having 8 to 10 years on myself and DP. Are good schools only the preserve of those rich in capital then? As clearly, if we move DS from this school someone will get a place that fits this category.

My brother lives in North London, they have just bought a house that is very nice but very similar to rows and rows of them for 1.3 million. They held on to their DS's place at the local oversubscribed school until they were certain their DS had a place at a private school. Given the cost of living in this area, the social equality argument that some are getting on their moral high horse about is farcical!

It is always a subject people seem to get very morally superior about but you often find they are making their point safe in the knowledge that their children attend the local school 'obviously', the owner occupied 4 bedroom house around the block from the school helped as did the christianing at birth to make the local CofE school a valid option!y DP's boss about 14 years older than myself was expressing similar moral outrage regarding the reception year mum's at her DS's school as being too religious, frequenting church too much, all to help in getting 'a place'. I had to wander about her motivation for sending her own children there as it wasn't their nearest school, they didn't strike me as particularly 'Christian'. I assumed it was because she wanted what she thought was best for her DC at the time of application, pretty much like the mum's she was criticising for doing the same thing!

Whoever said it was just about parental support at home- ha,ha, ha! I went to a very deprived secondary school for the first 2 years. It was fucking awful. My parents are both intelligent, one was a teacher, at the time my Dad was an Economist. The problem was not my work, it was in top group for everything but I had absolutely no friends, was socially excluded, bullied and taunted until moved schools. I had been to a private primary school and then went to a school where I was the only child to play an instrument in the whole school! It was a disaster and there is no way I would inflict that on my own child!

SchoolsNightmare Fri 04-May-12 08:54:23

KandyBarr - it is against the rules. Whether they get caught or not is down to luck and where they live. If you live in parts of London where council tax checks will pick up on house moves and additional properties (my part of London does this as standard) then you will be caught long before you get the actual school place. You will be causght within weeks of your application going in and told to change it.

If you live in an area where school places are scarce and other parents will inform on you, you will lose the place before September (or during the first term) because they will query with the LA why you got a place and they didn't. Very few people get to 2 years without being caught but if they do then they've probably got away with it because a school wouldn't remove children after several years of being settled.

If you live in an area where the council don't check these things and all parents happily watch each other cheat their way to better school places then I can see why people get away with it. But as the schol situation worsens (more children without places), I cannot see this silent acceptance of having their places stolen continuing. It used to be more tolerated ignored here too but now that some children actually get no place at all and catchments are smaller, the LA do get complaints and they do the council tax background check as standard.

Goldenbear - you moved. This is allowed. You didn't rent a flat whilst hanging on to your old one and then move back home as soon as a school place was secured. Instead you moved house genuinely then moved house again genuinley. That's different and that is allowed.
We are a family in London who got NO school place this year. We got none of our 6 choices and were allocated (eventually) a school we hadn't listed miles from home. And despite that I still beleive it is wrong tp steal someone else's place off of them. In fact having been through the stress of it, I would never knowingly inflict that on somebody else. So I don't think it is true to say only rich people in good catchments get sniffy about this issue. It is the wrong thing to do and the fact my child has missed out doesn't change that at all. Knowing what I know now, I still wouldn't steal another child's place from them.

KandyBarr Fri 04-May-12 10:37:38

Oh schoolsnightmare I've no doubt plenty of chancers are picked up during the application stage. That's the easy bit.

But I'm talking about those audacious, well-organised parents who catchment-rent carefully, for several years, well within the application dates and well after the children are settled in to their school places while letting out the family home for a year or two. If it's so clamped down upon, how come all the younger siblings get places on sibling criteria even after the families have moved back to their original homes?

It goes on all the time. I can't believe people are naive enough to think it is stamped out.

SchoolsNightmare Fri 04-May-12 11:54:41

KandyBarr - yes those well planned cases are ones that can be impossible for councils to spot and where they would be reliant on local intelligence (i.e. annoyed parents grassing them up once they realise their own children or their friends' children haven't got places).
All the time there are enough places for those living fairly close or with siblings to get in, this doesn't seem to happen. But as soon as places become scarily in short supply, parents do grass up cheaters. Especially when schools get to the stage where not even all the siblings get a place - then it becomes dog eat dog! As I say in our area the council didn’t used to check so much and parents didn’t use to grass each other up so often. Both those things have changed in the last 2 or 3 years at exactly the same time that siblings and locals began to suffer and not just the children on the fringes of catchments who nobody seemed to care about if they lost their place.

There are also proposals to cover your last point. A parent caught cheating long after it is feasible to chuck their child out of school could instead just be stripped of their sibling link. So their eldest child keeps the place after the family move back to their real home but their younger siblings won't get in. Which seems a perfectly fair solution all round. Some schools tackle this more directly by simply changing the admission priorities around if they feel the system is being abused. So people who have cheated to get their eldest child in suddenly find the school changes admissions criteria to give priority to local children rather than siblings. This is perfectly allowed and can leave them high and dry doing school runs miles apart.

prh47bridge Fri 04-May-12 12:08:26

KandyBarr - The LA doesn't have to prove anything. It can act if it reasonably suspects that a false address has been used. Many LAs will take a lot of convincing before using a rented address if the parents own a home elsewhere. Indeed, I know of some LAs that will simply ignore the rented address and use the owned home regardless.

The fact that a fraudulent address has been used does not necessarily mean the parents will not get a place. The LA should determine the correct address and use that. If the parents would still get a place using the correct address then they are entitled to it.

A child cannot be booted out if the fraud goes undetected for a couple of years. But the usual scenario is that parents rent then move back to the family home as soon as they have accepted a place or shortly after their child starts school. At that point the child can be booted out.

The number of parents detected making fraudulent applications for schools in Wandsworth each year is comfortably in double figures. I am not saying they catch everyone but they certainly catch a significant number. Such cases generally get no publicity. If the parents are caught during the admissions process (which is where they aim to get most of them) they will simply be offered a school based on their correct address. If they are caught later the place may be withdrawn (and if it is not the parents of the child who should have got the place will have a good case for appeal). Parents in that situation generally don't publicise what has happened.

You will not hear of parents being taken to court, however. As far as I am aware only one parent has been prosecuted for making a fraudulent application and the prosecution was withdrawn as it was unclear that the Fraud Act applied. It is unlikely any further parents will be prosecuted unless the law changes.

Goldenbear Fri 04-May-12 12:09:09

We started to think about schools when my son was 2. We lived in a one bedroom flat so we couldn't stay any longer. I researched the distance to school for the admissions procedure and although very near we would've missed getting a place by 35 metres that year. We therefore decided that the next move had to be much closer with the hope that we would get a place for him when he turned 4. We were in a recognised 'black hole' for primary schools anyway and the school in question other than a Catholic school, was our nearest. The way I see it is that it was our prerogative to sort it out in time. We sacrificed a better place to live for the school but even if we had stayed put we wouldn't have got our first, second or third choice as they are all oversubscribed. So we would've been offered a school that was about 3 miles away and was not great. We didn't want this for our child so we made sure it didn't happen.

If your lucky enough to have lived within the locality and own a property within the margins of the, 'distance to school' allocation then it goes without saying that you're pretty well off at my DS's school. It makes sense that people want the 'perceived' best for their children so what is wrong with people using their initiative to obtain that. If anything there is more social inclusion because it is often poorer people renting property nearby because there not wealthy enough to buy?? Morals are great when you can afford them!

SchoolsNightmare Fri 04-May-12 12:20:44

Goldenbear - I totally disagree that those who can afford to rent a property near a great school IN ADDITION to keeping hold of their old home (which even if they rent it out still costs money to get the gas safety checks and pay two lots of moving costs and all the admin) are poor people using their initiative!! That is so manifestly not the case.

Using your initiative is just a fancy way of saying being underhand enough to do whatever it takes to gain an advantage for your child that you know directly hurts another family.
Just like robbing a bank isn't using your initiative to solve society's ills of the rich dominating the poor, so cheating for a school place isn't the way to solve problems of some schools being vastly better than others. I can't believe you would think that social inclusion is imporved by this!
In fact its worse because instead of the school just being domainated by rich people (in your scenario), it is also dominated by very pushy parents as well. True social inclusion would allow poorer children out of area or the children of parents who don't know enough or care about local schools to get into the great ones to have these places. A school that takes only those who are rich enough to live nearby and only those who are desperate and dishonest enough to cheat is not a socially inclusive school!

KandyBarr Fri 04-May-12 12:38:05

prh I'm sure you're right, but how do the LAs know the parents with the rental address own a home elsewhere in the first place? Are they waiting for other disgruntled parents to dob them in? Or are they forced to disclose it on the pan-London application form (I don't remember that box myself)?

Ime what you describe as 'the usual scenario' - parents moving straight back after accepting a place - isn't what happens. The successful catchment-renters I've come across have all stuck it out for a while.

Goldenbear Fri 04-May-12 12:45:14

In Brighton a lot of the 'poorer' areas are located on the edge. There is no way, even with your utopian vision for school allocation existed that these schools are local enough. Of course people attend my DS's infant school that are not well off but they are rare is it is pretty much middle lass ghetto for a fairly extensive radius.

The one person I know who did what you're morally aghast over drives her son about 3 miles from an area where she owns a house that would only buy her a rubbish flat in the locality. She rented a house near the school whilst renting out this cheap house 3 miles away. They then had to move back as the landlord was selling the house. It coincided with the start of school and a lot of the wealthy morally aghast whispered about her immorality, they had other rich friends that had missed out because of the likes of her and had to send their children to private schools.

I'm sorry but I don't see it like you. The same parents are outraged at the moment as it has been suddenly announced that there will be an extra intake of children in reception this September. Now they're in they are not the sympathetic to the parents whose children are starting this september!

sicutlilium Fri 04-May-12 12:46:59

I'm surprised that it has taken 40 years for people to realise that the abolition of academically selective state education would lead inexorably to selection by mortgage and ability to move.

SchoolsNightmare Fri 04-May-12 12:49:55

KandyBarr - in London you have to send a council tax bill with your application. The admissions people at the council run checks as standard on these (well they do in our borough) and can tell a lot just from the details that appear on your council tax bill. They ring people to query anything that seems suspicious and in those cases can ask for extra information / extra proof. For example if you have moved recently, they will know. If you appear at other addresses especially in the same borough, they will know.

In the cases of people who move way in advance then stick it out and don't move back home staright away, they are more reliant on disgruntled parents dobbing them in unless they are very obviously still hanging on to their old home (eg haven't even rented it out) in which case the council tax checks will get them as well.

KandyBarr Fri 04-May-12 13:33:36

schoolsnightmare Yes, I understand all that. But how can assessors tell whether you own a property or not from your ctx statement? All it will show is when you stopped paying council tax at your previous address - ie, when you moved. So long as you move by the required date for admissions, what can happen?

KandyBarr Fri 04-May-12 13:36:41

Should also say, these parents don't leave their family houses standing empty for years - of course they rent them out. Which means their council tax is covered by their tenants.

prh47bridge Fri 04-May-12 14:08:44

KandyBarr - If there is any doubt as to whether or not you still own your previous property a quick check with the Land Registry will supply the answer. Indeed, it is even easier than that these days. There are plenty of websites around that will tell you when a property last changed hands and the price paid. And, as the LA, they know that they will have received requests for searches if the property was genuinely being sold.

That's just off the top of my head. There are, I'm sure, plenty of other ways the LA can establish ownership.

cheapandchic Fri 04-May-12 15:57:07

Ok wow. I am really shocked that some of you have mentioned this idea of moving to a certain area for a better school as immoral. Really?

First of all I am not talking about a 'fake' address. My husband works in property and in London we have been here 5 years and already lived in 3 properties. Its London... people move and certainly now that I have children I would like to move to an area where there is a great state school. I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. I was asking how long we have to stay in order to avoid some sort of investigation...

I do not see how renting out the property that I am in now has anything to do with that. After my children are in the school, if we choose to move to another rental, sell our house, or move back to it...that should not affect the school nor should it be any cause for investigation. We are a family that move house a lot, what is the issue?

If you want to talk about immoral...well one school that I was looking at and was hoping to move closer too is also a Cof E school. We already attend a lovely church in one of the neighbouring boroughs (where we use to live). I asked the admissions lady if we could get into this school if we lived close by but attended a different church. Her reply was "no". Apparently you have to live close AND attend their church. She advised me to alternate sundays between my church and this one for the school and then I would qualify and most likely get in!!! Another parent told me its a fact that parents pretend to be Cof E to get into this school! Pretending to be christian is far more offensive to me than renting a home near a good school. The latter I do not feel bad about at all...but maybe that just me.

BeingFluffy Fri 04-May-12 16:10:34

Moving into an area with good schools is not the issue. Keeping your permanent home and renting a flat in the catchment, to move back to your permanent home once your child has a place is what is being described as immoral here. Having seen the upset it cause when a child just misses a place it does seem very unfair that some people can effectively buy a place.

I would be inclined to agree with you about those who fake a faith and I am an atheist! My childrens' music teacher also mentioned that she quite often gets enquiries from parents of very young children who want their children to start young to be able to fit 5 music grade in before they are 11! One of my colleagues started her daughter's tutoring for Henrietta Barnett school at the age of 5! Everyone has their own idea about how to get the best advantage, whether moral or not...

MrsGuyOfGisbourne Fri 04-May-12 16:23:05

LAs are wise to the fact that people rent out their own house to fund the temporary rental of the catchment house, and will want to see the rental agreement for the catchment house. If it has only just started they will ask where you lived before - if you own the house and have not sold it they will see it for what it is. very easy these days with etc to find out where people are registered for voting, and a qucik search on land registry to see who owns a property.

cheapandchic Fri 04-May-12 16:23:16

'having seen the upset it causes when a child misses a place'

so I am stealing a place from who? the child who lives closer deserves that school more than my child because of their postcode? why? how?

I feel sorry that where I currently live I have no choice of a decent school.

BeingFluffy Fri 04-May-12 17:06:09

The girl I was thinking of when I wrote that lives on a council estate and cannot move. She ended up at a school an hours journey away by bus where she was bullied. Her mother works but is in a low paid job and couldn't afford a private rent. The catchment for the school suddenly shrunk this year - she would have got in easily last year. The school got an Ofsted "outstanding" about a year ago which is probably why. The school's admission policy is ultimately based on distance - that is their criteria not mine. It is not a question of who is more "deserving". In my opinion "cheating" by renting nearer the school is not playing by the rules - admissions authorities also seem to think so.

bowerbird Fri 04-May-12 17:33:10

Cheap I agree with you. Renting, truly renting and living in a place is not immoral.

SchoolsNightmare Fri 04-May-12 17:39:30

If you cheat you are stealing a place from somebody who qualifies more for the place than you do and who possibly has less of a chance of getting into any other school (they have one house close to the school whereas you would have one house even closer to their school plus another house close to your own local school that you just don't happen to like very much).

I don't see any justification for that - it isn't about whose child is more deserving. It is about sharing out places as fairly as possible which goes hand in hand with recognising that some people cannot have the school they ideally want. Why should another family be unfairly put in that position when really it is you who (without cheating) would be the one to miss out?
Why is it O.K to substitute your disappointment or inconvenience and foist it on somebody else instead by breaking rules that cause someone else the misery or upset that you are seeking to avoid for yourself?

And again - moving for a good school is not immoral because the new house becomes your real house - no cheating involved.
What is not acceptable or fair though is to rent a house close to a school, live there long enough to get a school place and then move back to your real home afterwards. That is outright cheating. You may not see it as anyone else's business if you do this but it is against the rules so if you get caught you are likely to lose your place. Whether you think that is fair or not isn't the question.

I am surprised that you cannot see that causing something you consider bad to happen to someone else's child by actively seeking to avoid it for your own child (and cheating to do so) is not wrong?

SchoolsNightmare Fri 04-May-12 17:40:54

I mean "is wrong" - too many double negatives!

SardineQueen Fri 04-May-12 17:44:50


Do what you need to do

BTW going to the "right church" is not unusual. I recommend you get the booklet with the entry criteria for the schools you are interested in and check the criteria closely. That way you will know what you are doing. If you do decide to move you are going to need to know the distance last year + try and hazard a guess as to how many siblings will be in your year etc. Distances can vary enormously year on year.

SardineQueen Fri 04-May-12 17:46:54

schoolsnightmare all your plan does is means that the wealthy get what they want

That's not exactly moral or ethical either

SchoolsNightmare Fri 04-May-12 17:55:16

It’s not my "plan" Sardine - it’s the rules as they stand!
Nobody is saying the system is perfect. The truth is there are fewer places at good schools than people who want them. How else do suggest they allocate these any more fairly?

Having people cheating within the system is worse for economic equality not better:
If people rent within catchment this only serves to make the catchment areas even smaller (because you have to rent ever closer to get in)....
....which in turn makes house prices near to good schools higher and higher (demand outstrips supply)....
.....which in turn makes only wealthy (and wealthy cheaters) able to get places.

So the attitude of 'do whatever it takes' actually makes inequality based on wealth even more apparent not less and drives out totally the people on the fringes of the catchment areas (normally in lower priced housing) who once upon a time might have stood a chance of getting in.

SardineQueen Fri 04-May-12 18:18:00

OP doesn't rent and place goes to someone who could afford to buy nearby


SardineQueen Fri 04-May-12 18:26:28

I wasn't aware that it was against the rules to rent, either.

A child at my daughters school lives in a rented house near to the school, there has never been any issue with that as far as I know.

sicutlilium Fri 04-May-12 18:26:53

SchoolsNightmare "which in turn makes only wealthy (and wealthy cheaters) able to get places"
So make the entrance criterion something which is not entirely dependent on family income: academic ability, say?

SchoolsNightmare Fri 04-May-12 18:54:09

Renting short term to get a place is not allowed.
Renting in general is allowed. The council do not insist only home owners or those with mortgages can have school places!.
The girl who rents near your school probably doesn't have a real home somehwhere else that she will scurry back to as soon as her school place is confirmed (that's the bit that's banned not the renting aspect):

"The address on the form must be your child’s permanent place of residence. It should not be a business, relative or carer/childminder’s address. You are not permitted to use a temporarily rented address to secure a school place for your child."

I'm not sure academic ability is going to be a fair way to dish out places to 4 year olds or solve secondary school problems. Unless you mean assessing everyone's academic ability and then sharing out the top group children, the bottom group children and the middle group fairly between all local schools creating an exactly equal mix of abilities in each but an absolute travel nightmare for most people??

cheapandchic Fri 04-May-12 18:58:01

Exactly Sardine. Since when is renting not allowed? Especially in London.

I am pretty sure that in many many school areas there are many families that rent. Renting is short term or long term and it depends on the situation at the time whether I choose to move from that property and when I choose to do so.

The places are not allocated due to wealth. Why would I be cheating or stealing a place from a poor estate child? That is not true...if anything I would "lose" my place to someone with a sibling...or as I mentioned above someone pretending to be christian. And those children with true needs...already get priority in most schools I have seen!

And from what I have researched this "driving out the less fortunate" is already happening in London and in fact in many major cities in the world. I don't believe that trying to get my child a decent education is somehow disadvantaging others.

SardineQueen Fri 04-May-12 19:00:19

OP has not said she is going to "scurry" anywhere.

She asked how long she would have to rent near the school. I don't know the answer - one year, two years, the whole of primary. I don't know the answer. Neither does the OP, which is why she asked.

breadandbutterfly Fri 04-May-12 19:06:49

The solution is to ensure all schools are excellent so that there is no need to 'cheat' at primary level.

SardineQueen Fri 04-May-12 19:12:48

Yes more schools/places and improve standards across the board
I do think that publishing league tables in the way they are published has made things worse as well

SchoolsNightmare Fri 04-May-12 19:17:22

Sardine - Op said she plans to let out her "real home" (ie rent it to someone else but keep it so she can move back to it later) and rent a new house nearer the school to get a place. This is not allowed. If she sold her "real home" and rented closer to the school then this would be allowed because then her rented home would become her "real home"

This also applies for example to children whose parents are seperated and who split their time between two houses. The council decides which is their main home and which is the other home. Only the main home address can be used for admissions. You don't get to decide which address you fancy using based on the best catchment!

cheap: I don't believe that trying to get my child a decent education is somehow disadvantaging others.
Umm how about because if you cheat you are stealing someone else's place from them. Someone who qualifies under the admission rules more than you do. You have decided that this other person is probably an undeserving sibling or fake Christian and can't have any genuine needs or else they'd have got in anyway (not true btw - many medical reasons are discounted and people have to appeal on these). You have not considered that maybe this person is just like you - a mum who wants the best for their child and will be gutted when they miss out on a place at a school they very much want to go to and live close enough to get into if it wasn't for 1 or 2 people cheating to go above them.

SchoolsNightmare Fri 04-May-12 19:21:32

I agree with raising standards generally too. I think that more collaboration between local schools would dilute some of this horrible competition and scramble over school places by making it less obviously advantageous to get into one school as opposed to another.

For example if the Head from the "good" school spent 2 days a week at the "bad" school and if the children from the "bad" primary school got to have science lessons at the "good" secondary school and use their sports facilities every week... all those things would lessen the distinctions between what is seen as good and bad. Which in turn would lessen this mad scramble for places and horrendous amounts of stress and upset for many parents.

HandMadeTail Fri 04-May-12 19:32:56

Unless you mean assessing everyone's academic ability and then sharing out the top group children, the bottom group children and the middle group fairly between all local schools creating an exactly equal mix of abilities in each but an absolute travel nightmare for most people??

Something similar happens in Greenwich. The schools have to take equal numbers of children in 5 or 6 different academic bands. So the catchment distance for someone in the 1st band may be different to someone in the 2nd and so on. Just to simplify life even further.........

HandMadeTail Fri 04-May-12 19:34:44

Sorry, first paragraph is a quote from SchoolsNightmare. Forgot to do quotation marks. blush

sicutlilium Fri 04-May-12 20:19:11

SchoolsNightmare "I'm not sure academic ability is going to be a fair way to dish out places to 4 year olds or solve secondary school problems." Not perfectly fair, certainly, but would it not be fairer than the present situation where the ever-shrinking catchment areas of the most desirable state schools ensure that they become the preserve of the wealthy? And as for assessing four-year-olds: the prep schools do it. I should add that I don't disagree with a lot of what you are saying.

cheapandchic Fri 04-May-12 20:29:10

Exactly schools:

That is my point. No one child is more deserving than another. How does someone "qualify under the admission rules more than me"?

Because I have moved to the area later than someone else, somehow I am less qualified or cheating??? That is ridiculous. I moved when I had children and realised that the school where I live is not great. So if a couple lived near the school before having children they are not cheating?

And whether I sell my current house or rent it is my choice. The rental market is better than the sales market. If I move back there or when is also my choice.

SardineQueen Fri 04-May-12 20:30:58

schoolsnightmare you are quoting the OP as saying she will rent out her "real home" (your quote marks) but I cannot see where she has written that.

BeingFluffy Fri 04-May-12 20:37:13

"is it worth letting my house and moving closer?"

I understood that is what OP meant as well!

DialsMavis Fri 04-May-12 20:41:15

Moving to get into a better school- fine IMO
Moving short term to get into a better school, then moving back -wrong IMO. Depending how sought after the school is, you could lose your place by moving back out of catchment area anyway.
Why not just stay in the catchment area?

DialsMavis Fri 04-May-12 20:42:21

Did you not check the schools before you bought your house?

cheapandchic Fri 04-May-12 22:29:57

No. schools were not checked before moving into this house. It is my grandmother's house and she has kindly given it to me. She bought the house in 1975.

So now I am wondering whether it is worth letting it and moving closer. Honestly I did not mean for this to be some sort of moral question. I still do not see this as 'cheating'. And surely my 'real home' is the one in which my family lives. why does it matter how long I live there?

Also I did not necessarily mean move closer, then move back. I might move to even another house and carry on renting...I was just wondering how this whole process works.

DialsMavis Fri 04-May-12 22:43:41

Ahh OK nothing wrong with moving then, any way its all just other peoples opinions isn't it, as to whats morally OK? I do agree with people not keeping theirschool place if they deliberately rent for 6 months or a year then move back to their (normally) bigger, cheaper house. My very good friend was insistent that her DC went to the super posh (but state) outstanding school, so she lives in a small and eye wateringly expensive house, I live 2 miles away in a lovely big cheaper house and my DC go to a "good" but very normal school. We are both happy with our decision. Its different for you though, if there is only a crap school near you

BeingFluffy Sat 05-May-12 08:16:27

Just one more thing, you need to declare the rental income to HMRC and pay tax if necessary. If you end up buying another property and living in it and keeping the one you inherited, you may be liable to capital gains tax if you eventually sell. My friends family were caught out on both counts and are still feeling the pain!

quickhide Sat 05-May-12 08:59:37

we didn't get into our ofsted 'outstanding' local school, which is 329 metres away! Strangely, given the catchment area is so 'small' there are a hell of a lot of parents that drive in the mornings, blocking up our tiny street with their 4x4s and nicking our parking spaces.

There is also a big block of flats behind the school that frequently has 'to let' signs...

I think it's shameful.

thirdhill Sat 05-May-12 11:19:12

OP you asked questions about what was possible, and you got a lot of steam about cheating and karma, many of which seem to say more about their posters than what you're contemplating. Is this that different from choosing to learn brass instruments from age 5 to get music places? Or tutoring for super selectives? Some people just resent others getting what they don't, while others focus on what they can do themselves within the rules.

I don't know the answers to your questions, perhaps, also, the answers may not be general and are only sensible for specific schools. I've read previousy that school governors [who one would have thought know the system as well as any] have moved quite legitimately and got their honey pot school places, and then returned to their home after several years when all their children had gained entry. That was a few years ago.

However I can't help feeling in the end it's about timing. The longer you lived there before and continue to do so after entry, the less likely that DC will be asked to leave. A large number of children in state schools move home in year 7, almost always away from the school, into better accommodation, and stay at the school. Good luck whatever you decide, when you've looked into it properly.

cheapandchic Sat 05-May-12 13:48:47

thank you third hill.

soonbesailing Sat 05-May-12 20:02:06

Cheapandchic. Re your OP most councils need proof of your address, so council tax bill, gas etc they need to be less than 3 months old, so re timing you woul need to move in the summer to be there for application date, (can't remember when but think it's oct/nov).

You find out about places around Easter and then start school in September, it would be very foolish to move after offer but before start of school, so you would probably need to stay to nov/dec so knowing most rental are 6months or 1 year you would need at least 18 months.

My local highly oversubscribed secondary school sends a letter in July which has to be signed by the head teacher of your primary school to prove that you live in the address you applied from.

I will not get into the wrongs or rights of this but feel that many of the other posters have pointed out the legal status of this, which you do not seem to agree with, but it is the reality.

The only other thing to consider is if you are applying to a very oversubscribed school with a really small catchment area, other parents will judge you, you may not like it, or care, but you will have to live with it for a long time.

cheapandchic Sun 06-May-12 12:52:23

thank you soon sailing for answering what I was asking about. the facts.

I understand about parents judging or whatever...but from what I have already discovered just talking to parents and visiting schools is that all the other parents are very competitive and many of them are also "playing the system" or 'cheating' as some have said.

I have already heard of families pretending to be catholic, getting doctors notes to play up their mental and/or medical 'needs'. Another mother was claiming her child was special needs just because he was a late talker...even though by the time of entry into nursery he was absolutely fine developmentally. There is a family that has turned up at our own church with 4 year old twins and they have been taking the vicar to their house for dinner quite a few times...I can't help but wonder if they are trying to get into the school... Housing prices are inflated drastically in these catchment areas....none of this seems fair or correct. And I agree its not exactly an ideal system.

But at the end of the day, I do not want my children going to my local school, for various reasons and therefore I would like to move to a place where I feel happy about their education. If people are going to judge me on that I really don't care. I am sure that there are parents in these desired schools that have also done the same or worse tactics to get in.

SchoolsNightmare Sun 06-May-12 13:18:31

cheap - all you say is true. However there is the moral issue and there is the legal issue and these aren't always the same thing as you seem to think.

- If you move house just to get into a good school that may or may not be immoral (cheating) but it is within the rules so nobody can stop you.

- If you pretened to be a Catholic (go to mass every Sunday for 2 years) that may or may not be immoral (cheating) but it is within the rules so nobody can stop you.

- If you get a Dr's note for delayed speech this won't help unless the school has a special speech unit attached and unless the child's problem is so severe no other school can help - in which case a Dr note won't be enough - the child would have to have lots of specialist evidence to back it up as well.

- If you rent out your family home (but don't sell it) then rent a house near to the school and live there for a year, that may not be any more immoral than any of the other things I've mentioned but there is one key difference - it is against the rules.
And if you get found out (the presence of very competitive mummies nearby makes this 100% certain I would think), they will take your school place away from you.

You may feel that your brand of cheating is no worse than theirs BUT the difference is they are legally cheating and doing things that whilst immoral are perfectly allowed. What you intend to do is the other kind of cheating - the one where if you get caught they take your place away.

If you want to move for a good school then you can BUT you need to do it properly. You can't just move for a year then move back home again afterwards.

bowerbird Sun 06-May-12 14:18:33

I know Schoolsnightmare would dearly love the last word, but ...her fierce objection to this practice is making her spout nonsense.

People move all the time for all kinds of reasons. As long as it's a legitimate move (i.e. actually living at the place) and you're paying appropriate council taxes etc, there's nothing the school could legally object to. As to the idea that OP's DC school place would be taken away - that is ridiculous and untrue.

In my London borough there's insane competition for the good schools. I was luckily living in the catchment of the school my DC now attends. My next door neighbour rented the place next door to me for a year, was very upfront about it and went on to become the chair of the PTFA. Nobody "shopped" her. This is only one example, of which there are countless - and these are only the ones I know about.

My advice to you is: find out exactly the submission deadline of the reception form (ours was February before September intake - and we had our confirmation letters in May). Work backwards from the deadline date at least a couple of months (if only for your own sanity) so you're settled when you apply and have the council tax form etc. Stay put for at least a term, or longer if feasible. This could be as short as a year, or as long as you like.

Please ignore the shrieking on this post. Good luck to you OP.

SchoolsNightmare Sun 06-May-12 14:29:54

bowerbird - I am not spouting nonsense. I am telling the OP the rules she should follow to make 100% certain she doesn't get her place taken away from her. The fact you know somebody who broke the rules and got away with it doesn't mean the rules don't exist (if she did indeed break the rules - you don't say if your neighbour hung onto an old address somewhere else at the same time as renting the house nextdoor to you)

For London these are the rules (the actual rules not something I've made up just to scare cheapandchic). If she chooses to break the rules and hope she can get away with it then that's her choice but you are not being truthful to tell her that she can break these rules and 100% hang on to her school place because that just isn't true. It is perfectly possible she will be found out at application stage and her 'real' address used by the LA or she will be found out after September and her place taken away.

The rules are:
"The address on the form must be your child’s permanent place of residence. It should not be a business, relative or carer/childminder’s address.
You are not permitted to use a temporarily rented address to secure a school place for your child. The Local Authority will investigate any cases:
• where there are any doubts
• where information has been received from a school or member of the public to suggest a fraudulent application has been made
• where records show a recent change of address.
The Local Authority reserves the right to seek evidence from parents, Council records, primary schools or any other source deemed appropriate. We may also make a home visit and refer cases to the borough’s investigation officers where benefits are being paid. An application that uses false information may be subject to legal proceedings. If an application is found to be fraudulent after a place has been offered, the place will normally be withdrawn."

MrsGuyOfGisbourne Sun 06-May-12 14:35:50

SN is correct, and although the PTA chair is by no means unique, and some people can front it out - I know someone who did that and became a school governor - people need to be aware of what eh rules are to assess the risk, and act accordingly. In the case of the school governor, they could, and later did, easily afford fees if the scam did not work - not everyone is in that postion...

BeingFluffy Sun 06-May-12 14:44:15

Below is a quote from my LA's current primary admission booklet. OP if applying in my area would need to declare her interest in other properties and prove that the rented address is her home.

^If you own or rent more than one property, you should state
this on your form. You will also need to provide proof of
residence and occupancy for the address at which your
child lives most of the time and is considered as the main
family home.
If you move into a property for a temporary period purely
for the purpose of trying to be nearer to a school, we will
use your normal, permanent residence for the purpose of
administering the application.
If it is discovered that you were offered a school place by
using an address of a second property, the offer is likely to
be withdrawn.^

and for the school best known for short term rentals..

^If you are making an application for XXXXX,
which has a designated priority area, you must provide a
copy of your tenancy agreement or a Land Registry
document if you live within the priority area. Your
application will be considered as outside of the priority area
if the required documents are not provided by the closing
date. If you rent your home, a signed rental agreement of
at least 12 months showing the start date of your tenancy
will be required. You and your child must still be living at
the address on the closing date for applications:
15 January 2012.^

clam Sun 06-May-12 14:53:18

The thing about that though, is that most rental agreements are for 12 months. You can give (2 months) notice to leave after 6 however.

cheapandchic Sun 06-May-12 17:38:54

all very interesting.

I do not of course want to be thrown out. I will probably stay 2 to 3 years. As we have always moved house every two years anyway. I don't see how they could kick me out because of that. And as I mentioned before we would probably move to another new place, hopefully buy a new property...we will see.

London schools are a nightmare! I hate it.

SchoolsNightmare Sun 06-May-12 17:46:52

cheapandchic - after 2 or 3 years you will be fine and you wouldn't lose your place at all.

I agree with you though, London places are a complete nightmare (hence my name at the moment on MN!). My youngest child will be caught up in the full chaos of the baby boom years yet we've had enough troubles just getting our older child a place at all (and he's a low birthrate year!).
Hopefully at some point the councils will cotton on and do something about that shortages so that people don't have to spend years trying to plan how to squeeze themselves into a 157m catchment zone!!

cheapandchic Mon 07-May-12 14:58:17

yes exactly. all the schools that I am trying to get into have a catchment of 0.1 to 0.2 of a mile!!

OhDearConfused Tue 08-May-12 09:42:36

Its been said before, but OP's problem is one which she will solve by permanently moving (even if in her case "permanent" is 2-3 years). Anyone chosing a house will do so on the basis of goods schools/parks/shops/travel to work and so on. And if she is reassessing where she is in year 5 of primary, say, as not all her criteria are being met: fine - as long as it then becomes a permanent move. Nothing at all wrong with that.

That is a world away from renting short-term just to get into a catchment with no intent to then stay within that community and then moving out again. That is likely to be illegal (for reasons set out above) as well as utterly shameful and immoral.

The problem is both the permanent move and the temporary move potentially displace someone out of the catchment .....

GateGipsy Tue 08-May-12 16:01:52

I don't think that can be true about them not considering a rental your real home if you own a place. I know at least three people who rent homes, but own as well. That's because they simply can't afford to buy the sort of house they need, so they've bought what they could afford, and are renting it out to cover the mortgage. At least this way they're on the property ladder. In two of these cases the homes they own are near to where they rent for convenience - in the same area.

Surely this is something that's going to happen more and more? People want to buy to invest for the future, but can't (especially in London) buy someplace they can actually live with a family. So they buy a flat, then as they start a family, rent and rent out their old flat.

prh47bridge Tue 08-May-12 17:59:52

Not all do but I can name LAs that specifically state that they will use the address of the home you own rather than the rented property in this situation. Whether these LAs are being reasonable is an interesting question but that is their current policy.

bowerbird Tue 08-May-12 19:01:35

Which LA's?

Elibean Wed 09-May-12 14:46:15

Wow, I'm amazed (naive?!) at the number of people who think cheating is justifiable if it is in the name of looking after one's children/education. Understandable, sometimes, yes - but justifiable?! confused

Do we then teach those same children that its ok to cheat if its about the ends justifying the means?

Or do we teach them to challenge systems that don't work for them, to get involved and try and make whatever schools/things are accessible to them better?

Its not that I don't understand the stress, or the desire to do it. And in cases like the ones GoldenBear mentions, I understand it far more than in those where parents have more options.

But its still cheating, and those who really lose out are never going to be the ones who have more in the first place, are they sad

BranchingOut Fri 11-May-12 07:29:19

I think the whole thing is just a huge luck of the draw anyway. Not many couples are sufficiently clued up to look at local schools before they have children. People move around for different reasons and pregnancy followed by their child's early years will coincide with one of those moves. For a long time we didn't intend to have children and schools were just not on our horizon when considering a move.

I suspect there are very few middle class parents who would stick their neck out and 'just send their child to the local school' if it was failing. Satisfaction on this moral point tends to coincide with having a local school that they are happy with for their child.

In my opinion a lottery among those living within a reasonable catchment is the fairest way to sort out places, once children in care, statements and siblings have been allocated.

BranchingOut Fri 11-May-12 07:30:12

Oh, and scrapping ratings on Ofsted reports.

cheapandchic Wed 16-May-12 13:23:03

Elibean- I am sorry but it is not cheating! Choosing to live near a good school is not cheating anything! And of course it has nothing to do with telling children its ok to cheat.

As someone mentioned before. Sometimes you choose a property near a park for your dog or near a tube that makes your commute easier, or near your mother who is ill, or near a good school for your kids. This is not cheating and I cannot believe anyone thinks this is morally wrong! And sometimes renting out the property you own is the best financially for your family. This is London all sorts of circumstances come into play.

Either way, I am just super stressed about the school situation...I had no idea it would be this complicated.

BonnieBumble Wed 16-May-12 13:25:59

I think what the OP is thinking of doing is completely immoral. Around here if you are in a rented property and own a home within 30 miles they will accept the home furthest away for admission purposes.

MrsCobbit Wed 16-May-12 14:03:55

i am curious about the rules if you own two homes, one in catchment and one not and move back to the catchment home in Yr 5 renting out the other property.

BeingFluffy Wed 16-May-12 17:38:15

I think if you own two homes in London you are likely to have your children in private school! Seriously, I think it would be more difficult for the LA to prove you didn't live there. There are also tax implications if you sell one and you didn't use it as your main residence which would be punitive.

BsshBossh Tue 22-May-12 22:29:39

I know someone whodid this. They rented their house out a year before October admissions started and moved to catchment of their first choice school. The daughter got in - started reception in 2011 - but they feel they still need to stay in new rental for at least another year before contemplating moving back to our road...

suzih1 Sat 26-May-12 19:15:10

Huge problem in Southgate Green, in North London, where Walker Primary School's offers of places have gone down to radius of 0.17miles this year. Local Authority (Enfield) appears to accept that a rental contract, plus associated bills etc is sufficient proof of residence. Pretty much all the places are being allocated to people renting right next to the school and long term (genuine?!) residents have little hope of a place and, for a large part of the area, no alternative school, good or otherwise. Talk now of "bulge" classes ie extra 30 pupils for 1 year only (although no sign next year will be any better) but this puts the burden on a school already very short of space.

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