Graveney - Renting in catchment for admissions purposes

(307 Posts)
StockwellLiving Thu 07-Jun-12 17:31:16

I am thinking about renting for a 12 month period or so from this summer to cover up to beginning of Y7 for DD in Sept 2013. And then moving back out.

I know (most people think) renting is wrong (and often discussed here). I actually also think its wrong, but I also know others do it (and not sure why we should be the only one not "playing the game", and I do want to avoid my local catchment school (have no religion, no money (for indies), average DD with no chance of her passing selection tests).

I am not starting this thread to get into the rights and wrongs of it - I only want to ask the very specific question: Do "renters" get caught and are places actually withdrawn?

I am asking about Graveney, not in general. I know from threads on MN that some LAs do try and look into short-term renting. But somehow I think that this particular school and this particular LA don't really care (happy to have aspirational middle classes moving into catchment) ...... so do they look into whether the rental is permanent or not, whether the renters have an owned (proper) home (rented out for a year)

Just wondering as it seems its increasingly popular to do this ....

TheReturnoftheSmartArse Fri 08-Jun-12 13:51:58

I have very immediate experience of this: my neighbours. We're in Merton and they did exactly this 18 months ago - rented out their house then rented nearer to Graveney. Son got in. Unfortunately for them, someone found out, shopped them and the son's place was withdrawn shortly before Christmas. They then struggled to find him a place somewhere and he's ended up at an academy quite some way from home. To be fair, they knew it was a risk and I'd done my best cat's bum face when she told me they were doing it. But we're delighted to have them back next door as they're a lovely family and the South Africans they'd rented out to rather like a party!

StockwellLiving Fri 08-Jun-12 14:04:05

TheReturn etc - yikes! "Shortly before christmas" presumably meaning (at risk of stating the obvious) that the DS had actually started at the school. How dreadful. I somehow thought that if you were caught out, then to be have the place removed it would have to be before the DC had started .....

StockwellLiving Fri 08-Jun-12 14:04:54

... but of course .... they were going to move back anyway once they got the place, so you needn't have missed them too long.

TheReturnoftheSmartArse Fri 08-Jun-12 14:08:03

Well, their plan was to stay away for 2 years, I think. But yes, the poor boy had actually started, got to know the school, made friends, etc. Not that he seems unhappy now, but his parents certainly wanted a "better" school for him.

Someone mentioned Greycoats earlier in the thread. Their DD is there (she's 15).

StockwellLiving Fri 08-Jun-12 14:12:04

Yes - Greycoats is a possibility - and am of course going to digest all this and rethink the renting strategy. But we would also hope to get my DS into same school (cue: debate on fairness of sibbling policy.....) smile

Needmoresleep Fri 08-Jun-12 14:22:43

Sorry to disappoint you, but Greycoats is tough as well.

I know people there who again did not meet the stringent religious or other criteria and so ended up needing proximity...eg renting.

crazymum53 Fri 08-Jun-12 15:02:01

If you were to sell your current house and buy a property nearer to the school that would be fine, of course, if you could afford it. Then a few years down the line you could sell the new property and move further away again.
Renting closer to the school would only really work if you were already living in rented accommodation.

didofido Fri 08-Jun-12 15:02:56

I don't agree that the child who lives next door is any more 'entitled' than one who lives 5 miles away. As I said before, all parents pay through taxes and all (well, most) try to do what they perceive to be best for their own child. Life's like that.
Doesn't actually affect me because (a) I live in an area where there are places to spare at most schools, and (b) I use indies for part of my children's education. As for community - if you live in a village where everyone knows everyone else's business, or makes it up if they don't know, well, you can have far too much of it. Miss Marples Wotsitmead has nothing on it!

tiggytape Fri 08-Jun-12 15:33:36

dido - a lot of people might agree with you but it is different if you live in an area, unlike yours, that has all over subscribed schools. In areas like this, when people start moving about short term for school places it leaves some people with no space at all or a place miles from home.

When you have 2000+ people applying for about 200 places then most people are not going to get the school they want no matter how much tax they've paid. There has to be a way of deciding who gets the places (or in other words how you choose the 90% of applicants who are going to be disappointed).

The problem with people cheating on distance is that if a family genuinely live 800m away from a London school and fail to get a place, because other people have rented closer than them, then they have no alternative schools to go to. They'll get allocated one miles away from home.
The people who rented short term do have schools near their own homes that would take them but they just don't want to go to them. So the short term renters in effect turn their back on their local option and buy themselves somebody else's local option instead. Which causes that displaced person a lot of grief because their second nearest and third nearest schools will be too full to take them and therefore they won't get a local school at all.

In London it is not just about good schools and bad schools. It is also about schools becoming full to capacity within tiny catchment areas which, if artificially shrunk further by people renting close to schools, will exclude some people from getting any local school place at all. Lack of places in general is such a huge issue in London that I am glad councils and schools are clamping down on this and that some people are getting caught. It doesn’t have to be everybody but if more and more get thrown out of the school every year, hopefully it will make people think twice about taking the risk.

tiggytape Fri 08-Jun-12 15:45:21

That sounded meaner than I intended - sorry.
I wouldn't wish getting a place withdrawn or being thrown out of school on any 11 year old. It isn't their fault if their parents cheat and to lose their place in the first term must be very upsetting for them.

I just meant that in a general sense, if other parents know it sometimes happens then hopefully it would reduce the temptation to cheat which it turn would have a positive effect on other 11 year olds who suffer because of cheating. Some children will miss out if others cheat and as a result potentially be left with no option but to travel miles across borough to get to school or have to leave Year 6 without any of their friends going to the same school as them.

StockwellLiving Fri 08-Jun-12 15:59:06

tiggy - I understand all that, and didn't really want to get into the rights and wrongs. However, when you write:

The problem with people cheating on distance is that if a family genuinely live 800m away from a London school and fail to get a place, because other people have rented closer than them, then they have no alternative schools to go to. They'll get allocated one miles away from home. The people who rented short term do have schools near their own homes that would take them but they just don't want to go to them.

The same can be true if someone moves permanently to get into the school (planning to say for 7 years or whatever), the person 800m out loses a place. And they are still left in the "black hole" you (very correctly) describe. Morally superior perhaps (the mover over the renter); but the consequence on those near the boundary are the same.

Having said that - definitely rethinking this all... Thanks for the thoughts.

A number of LA are now explicitly stating that if you rent a home and own a home then home you own will be treated as your address. So if you own a home relatively near where you rent I think you may find the council don't accept the rental property as your permenant address for admissions purposes. If you sold your home and then rented you are fine.

tiggytape Fri 08-Jun-12 16:22:56

fair enough Stockwell - its not a great situation for many people which is why I guess these things can descend into the moral argument but I know what you mean.

Putting that aside and just looking at it purely as a viable / non viable option, I guess the consensus is that a few years ago it would have been easy to get away with it, more recently some people have been caught and in future therefore a risk exists by doing it that you'd have to factor in.

I guess if your local school is truly awful and always has dozens of spare places that they can't fill then you might decide you have nothing to lose. But if you have any O.K schools near your real house that you stand half a chance of getting into then renting and applying to Graveney would mean losing all chance of getting a place at those should your Graveney place later be withdrawn and then you'd face being sent to a school miles away that was probably not on anyone list.

Hardboiled Fri 08-Jun-12 16:53:34

@gazzalw I always like what you say.

gazzalw Fri 08-Jun-12 17:02:24

Thanks blush!

StockwellLiving Fri 08-Jun-12 17:05:16

Thanks tiggy. Yes I wanted to put the morals to one side and look only at viability (for Graveney). You (and others) make some good points here that I will certainly dwell on.

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Fri 08-Jun-12 17:28:51

cue: debate on fairness of sibling policy.....

Well I can answer that. At secondary level, in an urban environment with half-decent public transport, there shouldn't be one. hth grin

gazzalw Fri 08-Jun-12 17:41:20

I've previously said that....they don't need to be at the same schools and often aren't if they go to single gender schools anyway....

Ive always thought that, not a popular view though tbh

gazzalw Fri 08-Jun-12 17:45:12

I think at some stage the sibling policy will go out of the window...in a way it discriminates against families with single children......

That's so true, there used to be a sibling policy at DDs school which has been phased out now.

mumwithtwokids Fri 08-Jun-12 17:49:26

We live in a borough where the majority of our primary and secondary schools are massively oversubscribed. Yes you got it, many local kids miss out due to tactics of this nature.

The sooner the council and schools crack down on this behaviour the better. Why should local children be denied access to local schools just because they happen to live in borough with good schools which everyone else wants access to? I know it's not what you want to hear and I’m not having a pop at you but I've just gone through the secondary school allocations experience which was super stressful. Whilst it worked out for us, I can tell you that there were many who didn't get the news they were hoping for despite meeting the criteria.

Everyone wants the best for their children, that I can relate to but I find this tactic very underhanded, selfish and completely inconsiderate. If yourself and other parent's aren't happy with the performance of school's within your area then you should start making some noise. I can tell you that up to 3-4 years ago many of the local comps in our area were poor however that has now changed dramatically.

twoterrors Fri 08-Jun-12 18:58:56

OK, so the definition of a permanent address is what is in your head at the time you move out?

I still don't think that makes sense, sorry. I do agree about the morality of all this, I just don't see how that definition sticks.

If you rent out the house you own, rent somewhere else, change electoral roll address, council tax, utilities, everything, are people really saying it is not permanent from the POV of the CAF because of what was in your head when you moved?

I just don't see how that can be - not least because life is not that certain. You might never move back because you fall in love with the new area or one of its inhabitants!

Surely the council has to define a permanent address as for example the electoral roll one?

And yes, people who move around a lot have a succession of permanent addresses. And a right to school places.

Needmoresleep Fri 08-Jun-12 19:01:26

What is fair or not fair has become very blurred.

DD did not get a place at our nearest school five or so minutes walk away because it is a sought after church school, we are not religious enough and we live the wrong side of the borough boundary. Children commute from across London to this school.

I would be surprised if all the pupils were as religious as they claim to be. Would I criticise any of my neighbours if they rented a flat in the right borough to be sure of a place? No. DD did not get any of her choices, and was offered a troubled school some distance and a difficult journey away. We had anticipated the problem and she had a place at an independent school. But what about those who can't afford to pay.

tiggytape Fri 08-Jun-12 19:43:46

twoterrors - the word permanent is pretty clear. If you rent house B a few months before the admission deadline yet have a mortgage on house A and have lived at house A for the previous 5 years and have not sold house A and are registered for primary school under house A then you're going to have a pretty tough job convincing anyone who investigates that your permanent address is suddenly house B!

At the end of the day, the council doesn't have to define permanent address in terms of black and white criteria. We all know very well what it means. If they defined it as electoral roll address, the number of cheaters would triple or quadruple overnight. Suddenly everyone would be registered to vote at Granny's house!
The fact that the onus is on the applicant to prove themselves is what makes the system fair (and uncertain for cheaters). It works on the basis that if the council doesn't believe you, it will force you to prove your case or not have your application under that address processed. There may be cases where people genuinely own one house and rent another that is nothing to do with schools admissions. In that case they are allowed to submit this evidence.

Needmoresleep - I agree it is not a fair system because most London schools have more applicants than they can deal with so in effect the whole process is geared towards choosing who loses out. But that doesn't mean introducing cheating makes it more fair. It isn't the system though that loses when people actively cheat - it is individual families and often poorer ones or more vulnerable ones (people living on the outer fringes of catchments in cheaper housing are more likely to lose out to cheaters in London than wealthy people who can afford to live safely in catchment). Whoever you displace by cheating is a child no less deserving than your own. And cheating is not some strike against the unfair system - it just harms somebody else's child and family life.

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