will the LEA act on people who try to beat the admissions system?

(52 Posts)
queenfromars Wed 07-Aug-13 20:56:01

I cant believe this, I bumped into a mum I know from when ds used to be at baby group who I still see around and say hi to today. She was also at our school appeal a couple of months ago as she was also appealing for the same school we were. Anyway, she said another mum who we also both know, deliberately rented a house opposite the school for 6 months to get her son in (and was successful). The LA have been told about this by several people, but have said they can't do anything until September (?)

I am fuming, at the time the schools were allocated, ds was number one on the waiting list, so that should have been his place. Other people have since moved nearer and ds has now moved down to second on the waiting list. What a kick in the bloody teeth. Why do they have to wait until September, and what will they do? At our appeal they said they took this kind of thing very seriously, but it turns out they knew that day as this other mum brought it up in her appeal, and others have too.

teacherwith2kids Wed 07-Aug-13 21:01:29

You would need to check the wording of the admissions booklet on what is counted as an address for admissions purposes, and find out whether this woman's move made the house her main address (ie she did not simultaneously own / rent a house elsewhere which she has subsequently moved back to). Moving just for 6 months, as long as that is her main and only residence and all others have been disposed of, isn't a problem in many areas (it is regarded as deeply suspicious where I live, and is investigated very thoroughly, but that seems to be the exception). Maintaining another house elsewhere IS a problem.

Gather all the information that you have, and send it to the LEA, your local councillor and your MP

queenfromars Wed 07-Aug-13 21:08:11

The family maintained the house they own the entire time, they never moved into the rented one, they actually made no secret of what they did!
What can the LA do? At the time of her sons allocation, my son was first on the list, but as he is now second I guess this is no help to us

teacherwith2kids Wed 07-Aug-13 21:15:43

Here, the LA would remove the child's place - but would then I suspect allocate it to the first person on the waiting list. However, you would I should imagine have a strong case at an appeal to say that had the LEA appled its rules correctly [if they DO have a rule about main residence - do check that, some LAs still don't, foolishly, leaving them open to things like this] you should have a place.

queenfromars Wed 07-Aug-13 21:22:26

We have already been to appeal, and yes I am assuming if they did withdraw the place it wouldn't be given to us anyway. I will check to see if there is anything about it in their rules, however as this other mum brought it up in her appeal and didn't win, I doubt we would've either.

prh47bridge Wed 07-Aug-13 22:00:32

The LA does not have to wait until September. If they believe a false address was used they are entitled to withdraw the offer even though it has been accepted. They can still withdraw the offer even if the child has started at school.

This child has deprived someone of a place. That person would have a strong case for appeal if they can prove what this family did. It doesn't affect other appeals as they wouldn't have got a place even if this family had used their correct address.

queenfromars Wed 07-Aug-13 22:11:27

This is what I found on their website,

Will you ask for documentary evidence of my home ad
dress?
We will ask a sample of families to provide informa
tion to confirm the child’s
home address. We will contact these parents where a
dditional information is
required. We may also require parents to provide fu
rther evidence to support
the change of address after their child starts at t
he school. If a school place
has been secured through false information provided
about a home address,
we do have the power to withdraw the place offered
even if the child has
already started at the school.
Fraudulent Addresses
To ensure a fair process for all families we check
carefully to ensure that we
use the correct address to prioritise applications.
However, if you feel a parent
has not provided the correct information contact us
in confidence by e-mail xxxxxxx or by telephoning xxxxx
Any parent who has obtained a place using a fraudul
ent address will
have the place withdrawn. If the fraudulent address
is discovered after
their child starts school the place will still be w
ithdrawn and the child
will be asked to leave the school.

So, basically I should contact the LEA again? We have had one appeal already, don't we have to wait until next year to appeal again?

queenfromars Wed 07-Aug-13 23:11:07

I have also tonight been speaking with the mum who told me, this is part of what she said,

She is now trying to buy on here as she has been told that if she moves back she will have her place taken away. I have already informed admissions about her moving to a house which is going to be more than 1.4 miles away and they said they r going to review it in September and if she is living there they will take action, whether they do or not is another thing!

prh47bridge Thu 08-Aug-13 08:25:17

This isn't good enough. If the family were not living at the address given on their application form they should lose the place immediately. They shouldn't be able to hang on to it by buying another house in the area. The LA appears to be colluding with a parent to allow them to break the rules which is not acceptable. They may also be in breach of their own admission arrangements. If they accept that a false address was used the extract you have reproduced says the place should be withdrawn but they haven't done so.

I suggest you contact the LA in writing (email will do) and again remind them that the place was obtained fraudulently. Point out that the family only rented the property to get a school place and that they have never lived there. Say that you believe the place would have been awarded to your child if the correct address had been used for this family. Ask for a fresh appeal on the basis of this new information that was not available to you at the time of your original appeal. I expect they will refuse in which case you should refer the matter to the LGO and include everything you have posted here, in particular the statements the LA has made to you (if you can get anything in writing that would be very helpful) and what the mother concerned says the LA has said to her.

queenfromars Thu 08-Aug-13 08:50:34

Thank you for your help, i am drafting a letter now. What is the LGO, is that the ombudsman?
I have heard of this sort of thing happening, but cant actually believe that our son has missed out because of it sad

prh47bridge Thu 08-Aug-13 09:01:50

LGO = Local Government Ombudsman

I hope your letter will have the desired effect. If not you know where to find me if you need help with taking this to the LGO.

Zingy123 Thu 08-Aug-13 09:10:04

Our LEA doesn't seem to care. I reported someone years ago when my DD started. Someone had applied from their parents address for their child. Another child who lived closer didn't get a place. Nothing was ever done about it.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Thu 08-Aug-13 13:17:25

I know a child who had their place removed because the parents applied from grandparents' address. The school even arrived at the grandparents' house at 7am to see if the children lived there. So some schools / LEAs take this very seriously.

tiggytape Thu 08-Aug-13 13:42:05

Zingy - years ago cheating was rare because there were more school places in relation to the number of children applying - it wasn't such a fight to get a place. Most people had a genuine choice and very few people bothered cheating so councils just weren't on the look out for it.
As little as 5 years ago, several councils said they hadn't considered this problem.

Now most of them are aware of it and most of them deal with it much better. A few (like Camden this year) have messed up because they weren't explicit enough about defining a child's address but that is being quickly rectified and most of them are very strict about the address definitions and checks and responding to complaints identifying cheaters.

They can and should remove this place.

Mutley77 Thu 08-Aug-13 13:58:31

In our LA area council tax records are checked prior to the point of offer for over subscribed schools!! Although I guess they are on the council tax record as living there so that wouldn't help?

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Thu 08-Aug-13 17:09:12

Exactly this situation happened in our area. The LEA investigated but decidied the children could keep the place as the parents were living in the rented flat at the time. This practice has taken up 5 or 6 places at my local school. The parents that have done it are known, and no one will speak to them. It's horrible for all the children concerned; imagine having no playdates as no one will talk to your parents sad

I know I could write to the LGO but I had enough battles on my hands and we were something like 200m away from the school so wouldn't have gained a place in the last 10 years!

queenfromars Thu 08-Aug-13 19:59:15

If it does go to the LGO, what would happen? Would they push for a fresh appeal? Would I then have to prove somehow what I now know?

prh47bridge Thu 08-Aug-13 23:49:59

They would investigate. If they think there is evidence of maladministration they will recommend an appropriate remedy. That may be a fresh appeal or they may recommend admitting your child. Any proof would help your case, especially if the LA claim that there isn't enough evidence to prove that these parents have broken the rules.

PiratesMam Fri 09-Aug-13 09:20:14

I just can't believe some people behave like this - I could not sleep at night if I lied about something so serious!! Good on you OP for reporting. I'd do the same. I feel like there should be more penalties on councils/school who turn a blind eye - at the moment there doesn't seem to be much incentive for them to investigate.

tiggytape Fri 09-Aug-13 09:35:41

Pirates - the outcry some councils have faced when they don't act has increased over the years in response to the fact that school places are harder to secure so more people may be tempted to cheat. And of course more people are affected by those cheaters than before so are more vocal in banding together to demand action is taken.
This is good - it used to be just a few people cheated, just a few people were bumped down the lists and just a few people lost out. Which is horrible for them but attracted a lot less sympathy or attention.

For a long time many councils simply couldn't believe parents on a large scale would shell out as much as £18k just to rent somewhere long enough and close enough to get a desirable school place (but then private school fees in London can be £15k+ per year so why wouldn't they?). Now it is seen as a genuine issue and not a quirk that affects just a few schools, most councils are getting to grips with it and those that haven't are increasingly bowing to local pressure to crack down.

Parents however may not see much action because most cheaters get caught at application stage. They fill out their form with the rented address on it. The council do checks and discover a family home 2 miles away and simply cross out the rented address and put the 'real' address into the system. The parents can appeal this if they can prove a legitimate reason but in most cases they quietly get caught and quietly accept their application being 'corrected' It is much rarer for places to be dramatically removed once offered and tends to happen more when parents report other parents rather than when the cheat is discovered directly by the council.

PiratesMam Fri 09-Aug-13 10:47:56

I am glad to hear it is being taken more seriously; the approach nationwide to tackling it doesn't seem very consistent at the moment. I would definitely report someone who did the temporary renting - I know so many disappointed parents at the moment!

sashh Fri 09-Aug-13 12:32:00

I'd be tempted to use the rental address to reapply, with a sarcastic letter.

Mow family X have obtained their school place we have decided to use the address of the property they rented to get a place. We expect to be treated in the same way and get a place at the expense of local children who should have a place,

queenfromars Sat 10-Aug-13 20:09:23

Just one more from me, IF the said child does end up losing their place (and I'm not confident they will) am I right to assume that place would then be given to the person who is currently top of the list (which is no longer us). It seems unfair we would miss out yet again. Where would we stand if we appealed again?

teacherwith2kids Sun 11-Aug-13 10:39:51

I THINK - but would wait for the admissions experts to confirm - that the place would be given to the current top of the waiting list BUT you can appeal on the basis that the council have deprived you of the place that should have been yours by their failure to apply their own residence rules correctly at the time of your application.

The evidence of a mistake would be much stronger support for an infant class size appeal than simple arguments about why that school would be best for your child, and would therefore lead to an increased chance (but not a certainty) of success.

Talkinpeace Sun 11-Aug-13 16:34:01

what if its not an LEA school ....
half of all state secondaries are academies now
where the LEA has no influence

I know this is a primary thread, but the clock is ticking ...

Gove and Osborne want all LEAs abolished
so if the academy / free school you then apply to says no, there is no appeal ...
other than to Gove personally

(prh says there is a system, but I've not seen it in action against the status quo yet)

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