should I grass up the new neighbours?

(175 Posts)
sybilwibble Thu 27-Dec-12 10:40:28

Met the new neighbours at another neighbours drinks party. Lovely mum and daughter, plus granny. Ask Mum, as you do, Where have you moved here from? Her response was that she only lives about a mile away, where they have a lovely family home, now sat empty, but they've rented the house in our road as it's right in catchment for the great local secondary. They've been here a month, and will find out on March 1st whether their dd will get a place (she will) then they will move back in a year.

Granny then tells me seperately, that they will be moving back in March, as soon as they get the letter from the great senior school, as they have not been successful in finding anyone to rent their family home from them. Either way, I'm a bit hmm. My dcs are younger so we're not applying this yr, so doesn't directly affect us...but would feel very sneaky calling the local authority... wwyd?

I wouldn't say anything! Nothing to do with you.

EwanHoHoHozami Thu 27-Dec-12 10:46:45

But they're actually living in their rented house, so they're not actually doing anything against the rules, right?

I'd think that if they're prepared to cause themselves that much inconvenience then they must really want that place.

And I wouldn't say owt.

PuggyMum Thu 27-Dec-12 10:50:04

This isn't something I would interfere with either. They have a rental agreement, will have bills in their name so they can prove they do live there as far as they'd need to.

Live and let live in this case!

EwanHoHoHozami Thu 27-Dec-12 10:50:18

Doesn't make it "right" btw, but that wasn't what you were asking. Just saying I wouldn't be calling the authorities over it.

Mutt Thu 27-Dec-12 10:54:28

Maybe they will find the neighbours so lovely they will decide to stay hmm

But if it will bring pleasure to your life to dob them in, you go for it.

(Not that it will make a difference either way - they are working the system, not breaking the rules)

ItsaTIARA Thu 27-Dec-12 10:54:44

It is definitely against the rules (and if it's an oversubscribed school they won't get away with moving back in March daughter might get kicked out of school) but unless I had friends whose DCs had lost out I personally wouldn't dob them in. They're idiots to tell all and sundry though because eventually someone will take it personally and grass them up.

sybilwibble Thu 27-Dec-12 11:13:16

Mutt clearly if it would bring me pleasure...then I'd just go ahead and do it. Clearly I'm in a quandry about it. And they certainly are breaking rules. You have to apply from your permanent home. If your perm home is a rental so be it, that's fine, but to rent a home from Dec to March, while your permanent, family home lies empty a mile away is clearly an abuse, not a simple of case of having moved recently to the area.

creamteas Thu 27-Dec-12 11:52:55

I would certainly tell, it sounds like fraud, so is no different from people who falsify claim benefit or evade tax.

If they are not breaking the rules, then any investigation will find them innocent. So what is the harm in reporting it.

Mutt Thu 27-Dec-12 11:54:04

And you can prove that can you? That they are moving back in March?

Perhaps you have recorded your conversation with Granny... And I hope you told her how unethical you find their little plan? Or did you just stand there nodding and wishing her a Merry Christmas.

These threads make me laugh. Either dob in your neighbour for working the system (be it to obtain a school place, benefit fraud, tax evasion, or whatever) or don't. But to start a thread about being in such a quandry over me a favour.

You said yourself "it would feel very sneaky calling the local authority...". There's a reason for that.

It is.

strumpetpumpkin Thu 27-Dec-12 11:56:17

id consider it their own business.

usualsuspect3 Thu 27-Dec-12 11:59:35

It's surprising the lengths some people will go to to nick a place at a good school. I wouldn't report but I wouldn't be overly friendly with them either.

OhDearConfused Thu 27-Dec-12 15:23:23

Yes - they are committing a fraud. All crimes should be reported.

kilmuir Thu 27-Dec-12 15:26:30

It is against the rules
Would you let it go if it was a primary place for one of your children?

OhDearConfused Thu 27-Dec-12 15:41:01

It is against the rules (at least we can assume they are alhtough OP doesn't mention the school, since most schools say you have to have your "permanent" address - although it is possible that the OP's schools says "short term rental addresses for admissions purposes are fine" hmm).

I wouldn't break them.

prh47bridge Thu 27-Dec-12 16:57:14

They are breaking the rules. There are no LAs that permit short term rentals for admissions purposes.

They may be found out even if you don't tell the LA. Many LAs have had problems and watch out for families who start renting within the catchment area of popular schools just in time for the admissions round. As this family still owns a house that may well be picked up from checking against council tax records, as a result of which the LA will use that as the home address and renting will have gained them nothing. Even if they get a place, the LA may realise what has happened as soon as they move back to their original home. The LA is then entitled to withdraw the place even if their child has already started at the school. They are then likely to be in a worse position than if they had applied from the correct address in the first place as many of the schools they might have got into will be full.

If it was me I would tell the LA.

orangeberries Thu 27-Dec-12 16:57:33

I would mind your own business.

They only have your word to go by and they might decide to stay after all if they rent their house out.

It isn't against the rules to rent somewhere and try and rent your own house out or even leave it empty.

I know loads of people who genuinely have moved somewhere else but their house is either empty or rented out as they genuinely cannot sell it. All the council will be interested in is that they live at their current address and can prove it.

All the council will be interested in is that they live at their current address and can prove it.

Not necessarily, if the council don't accept that the current address is their permanent address.

TimeChild Thu 27-Dec-12 18:27:58

It is fraud and if found out the place will be withdrawn.

What kind of an example to set their dd and it would be she who would suffer. In the worst case she would be withdrawn from the school under a cloud not of her making (with no other school to go to). Even in the best case scenario, she would effectively be at the school under false pretenses and may have to field awkward questions.

I'm getting on my high horse here but I think we all have to think of the underlying morals that we are passing on to our children.

Would I shop them? Probably.

admission Thu 27-Dec-12 18:31:46

Orangeberries. Sorry that is not exactly true, most LAs are now very interested in how long somebody has been in a house and more importantly what else they might "own" .
I am not saying anything that is not already public knowledge but I know of at least 1 LA who "red flag" anybody who has moved into a house in the last 6 months if they are applying for a school place in the normal admission round. The second thing they do is check their council tax records to see if the parents are paying the LA for any other address, though they can obviously only do that for the one LA.
In the above case they would be spotted and from the description given I would suspect that the LA would see it for what it is and use the old address as their true address.
Obviously there are many situations where the move to rented property is completely genuine, so the LA will be careful about what they do and say. Most LAs now have areas that they know are a problem when it comes to admissions due to over-demand and take this very seriously. In fact in the LA I am quoting they know the houses / flats that are used on a regular basis for such attempts to bend the system and needless to say anybody using these addresses is looked at very carefully (though for some reason the estate agents tend not to mention that fact!)

tethersjinglebellend Thu 27-Dec-12 18:34:51

Surely it would only be against the rules if they move back to their old house?

I know some LAs are beginning to insist that all ties are severed with previous properties, but they are in a minority. Renting out a home you own and renting elsewhere is not against any rules otherwise AFAIK- it only becomes 'short term' if you move back. In London for example, families who rent often have to move every few months- should they also have their children's school places withdrawn?

TimeChild Thu 27-Dec-12 18:43:09

The list below comes from the website of a v. over-subscribed school in our area. It makes it clear that if you are suspected of any of below you will be investigated and place withdrawn. Amazing the lengths some people go to!

• Use the address of relatives – usually grandparents. They often have the same name, so utility bills and other documents can be presented that appear to match the name of the pupil with the address on the application.
• Taking on a short-term rental or tenancy agreement merely for the duration of the application period.
• The parents’ marriage is said to have broken down. This subsequently proves to be untrue but the story provides the cover for one parent (usually the mother) to move to an address within a catchment area for a short time.
• Parents genuinely have separated, but it is claimed that the child is living permanently with the other parent.
• The application uses the address of a property that is owned by one or both of the parents but is not their permanent address. Often it is just a property they let to others.
• After giving a valid address on the application form, parents subsequently move away but do not inform the Local Authority or school of their change of address.
• One or other of the parents has a commercial or business address within the distance, which they use on the application as their ‘home’ address.
• A friend’s address is used. This can be given credibility by swapping addresses with them for a short time – sometimes with a short-term tenancy agreement in place.
• Using the address of an empty property or plot.

onedev Thu 27-Dec-12 18:50:44

I think you should mind your own business.

MirandaWest Thu 27-Dec-12 18:56:36

When they applied where were they living?

Mutteroo Thu 27-Dec-12 20:08:17

At the moment they're not officially doing anything wrong. depends what happens in March. Then all bets are off, particularly if they're nightmare neighbours who have given you hell!

FestiveElement Thu 27-Dec-12 20:25:37

I wouldn't say anything. The problem isn't with families that have to take these measures to get their children into a good school, the problem is that some schools are so bad that families feel they have no choice.

They are doing the best they can by their child and providing her with the best education they possibly can. I don't see why they should be criticised because they are forced into this position.

admission Thu 27-Dec-12 23:32:34

None of your list surprises me. One of the quirks of places being withdrawn is that the parents have the right to then go to appeal over not getting a place at a school.
I count three of your list where these have come up at appeal and the one defining point in all three cases was the "brass" of the parents in admitting they had done it but they still thought it was OK, because they were different and the rules did not apply to them.
Mutteroo you are completely correct that they are at present not officially doing anything wrong and if they can show that the rental is for an extended period of time, then the LA will probably accept it as their current address for the purposes of admission. The problem is that this family are not making any secret of what they intend to do to others and if the LA get any whiff of that conversation then they will make start to make assumptions about their motives.

GoldQuintessenceAndMyhrr Thu 27-Dec-12 23:35:50

I would tell.

They are wealthy enough to rent a home and pay bills for two homes, so their child can get a place in a school, thus depriving a less wealthy child for a school place.

Dromedary Thu 27-Dec-12 23:40:04

At the end of the day they are stopping another child, who genuinely lives near the school, from getting in. That child will have to travel to another school, away from their friends.

jinglebellyalltheway Thu 27-Dec-12 23:48:44

nope my neighbours house swapped with the grandparents temporarily to get the DD into a school that the GPs lived in... 2 years later they're still there, they decided not to move back and stayed in the catchment once the DD got into that school

the family are actually living there, not falsely using the address

and ironically that school is now way below our catchment schools in league tables and no longer over subscribed, like our local ones have become (which they house-swapped away from)

And the GPs are actually quite nice neighbours, much more friendly than the family! grin

BabylonElf Thu 27-Dec-12 23:54:51

My parents bought a second property to get me and DB into the right school.

Did I ever live there? You bet I did, rented the studio apartment bedsit off my parents as soon as I finished 6th form and got a job wink

jinglebellyalltheway Fri 28-Dec-12 00:14:38

blame the game, not the players I say!

OhDearConfused Fri 28-Dec-12 10:03:38

blame the game, not the players I say!

If the ref doesn't spot the ball clearly going over the line, do you not draw his attention to it!

its against the rules, so it's not the game's fault, it's the players that are breaking them (deliberately and indeed boastfully so without any shame - like a Ronaldo wink to the camera after getting Rooney sent off)....

tiggytape Fri 28-Dec-12 14:25:43

But they're actually living in their rented house, so they're not actually doing anything against the rules, right?

Not true - it has to be your permanent address. For most people whether their house is rented or mortgaged makes no difference since most of us don't have 2 or 3 homes to choose from.
If for any reason you do have 2 or 3 houses to choose from you have to apply from the one that is permanent. The one that is registered with the primary school / Dr surgery / DVLA / child benefit etc. You cannot rent just for catchment purposes even if you physically live in the rented house for a little while.

And you can prove that can you? That they are moving back in March?

You don't need to prove it. You tell the council and they will do an extra check in March and September to see where they are living. If this family stay in the rented house, the girl will keep her school place. If they move back to their 'real' home she will lose it.

The chances are it may get picked up anyway. Councils aren't daft and can access all sorts of records to check where people are actually living and for how long. Once upon a time people got away with this as councils were genuinely baffled that people seemed willing to spend the money and hassle doing this. They have got a lot wiser to it recently.
It is definitely not within the rules to do this and if the family move back to their 'real' home after receiving an offer they have commited fraud. You may or may not think that this is any of your business but it is still wrong. And you may live close enough that people cheating like this won't cost youa future school place but what about your neighbours or your friends' children. Do they all live close enough that they are not in danger of people cheating depriving them of going to the same schoo as your DD and the rest of the class?

tiggytape Fri 28-Dec-12 14:35:17

And for all those who say blame the system: It is true there should be no schools which are so bad people cheat to avoid them and if we had an American system (where a school has to take everyone who lives in a designated area) I might even agree with you that it is fair enough to do this to get a place.

But we live in a country where the system is limited by numbers not distance so if people cheat it isn't the schools who suffer by having to make room for one more pupil, it is one child who suffers by losing out on a place at their local school as a direct result of somebody else cheating to take it away from them.

And the ability to cheat comes with money which makes it worse - if you have enough money, you can oust somebody from their place at their local school and replace that child with your own. We all want to do right by our children but this shouldn't be at the direct expense of another peerson's child. Cheating school admissions isn't a victimless crime - it isn't even a crime against the system. The only people who suffer are poorer children who live on the fringes of catchment areas - being too poor to necessarily live right next to the good schools but still close enough to get a place provided nobody richer than them pays for a short term rent very close to the school.

lljkk Fri 28-Dec-12 15:06:45

I would grass them up.

lljkk Fri 28-Dec-12 15:07:05

and if they can afford all this renting 2nd home malarky, they can afford private school for the child, no?!

tiggytape Fri 28-Dec-12 15:25:01

I guess a second home plus bills for a year is a bargain compared to private school fees for 7 years but it boils down to the same - using money to buy an advantage at the expense of another child.
And usually the losers in all of this are those with less money. The people least at risk of cheaters are ones who live right nextdoor to a fantasici school where house prices are generally higher. Those with less money who can only afford to live on the fringes of a catchment area are the ones most likely to lose their place to cheating.

chloe74 Fri 28-Dec-12 16:04:45

Talk about big brother and the secret police... Quite ironic that the OP plans to send her kids to the school (and lives closer) but is debating grassing someone up for trying to get their kids into the school. Unless you hear the 'other' side of the story I don't think anyone has a right to judge. Maybe they genuinely planned to rent and make it their permanent home. Maybe they tried to sell their original house and couldn't. Maybe they tried to buy closer to the school and couldn't afford to. We don't know the FACTS. So NO they shouldn't be 'grassed'. Its not a criminal matter and adults should know better!

What would be funny is if the OP told tales, they turned out to be unfounded and it got out, amongst other parents at the school, that she was a snitch. I think many people would have hostile feelings about 'her' and make 'her' time at the school very uncomfortable.

DoesntTurkeyNSproutSoupDragOn Fri 28-Dec-12 16:05:54

The problem with the "none of your business" attitude is that a child who genuinely lives within the correct distance to gain a place at the school will miss out because a child had gained a place under false pretences.

If that were your child I suspect you might feel differently.

DoesntTurkeyNSproutSoupDragOn Fri 28-Dec-12 16:07:21

Some of you clearly haven't read the OP where the mother in question was completely upfront about what they are doing.

chloe74 Fri 28-Dec-12 16:23:53

DoesntTurkeyNSproutSoupDragOn - the OP gave her opinion of what was happening based on comments at a drinks party. I suspect if the accused was posting here they might have a different view about the whole scenario. If the mother in question felt she was 'breaking the law' then she might have been a bit more circumspect about her intentions. Which leads me to suspect she isn't. Either way we do not live in Stalinist Russia, so I don't think it is the OP job to report other parents to the authorities. How would the OP like it if she was fined because her neighbor reported her for putting the wrong litter in her recycling box? Or for paying her car tax a day late, or any other non criminal offense. What kind of world would we live in if neighbors couldn't trust each other because everyone is a spy for the government.

VivaLeBeaver Fri 28-Dec-12 16:28:02

If they're breaking the rules then I'd report them.

DD missed out on a wonderful school by .3 of a mile, she was 4th on the waiting list.

There are lots of people every year who rent a house out in the town for a few months. They don't even bother moving in and carry on living 20 miles away. It makes me so mad that dd didn't get a place when people who can afford to do this did.

DoesntTurkeyNSproutSoupDragOn Fri 28-Dec-12 16:29:40

No, she didn't give her opinion, she related what the mother and the grandmother had said.

^ I suspect if the accused was posting here they might have a different view about the whole scenario^

Yes, she would probably think it was absolutely fine and "just playing the game"

Your comments about "Stalinist Russia" are, quite frankly, hilarious.

TimeChild Fri 28-Dec-12 17:07:09

OP's neighbour sounds naive being so up front about her plans. Given that there's such a bunfight to get into popular schools, some one will report her. Not stalinist Russia, just human nature.

The next county to us has Grammar schools, all comps here but good ones.

Even so it's very common for people to do this kind of thing. I can think of several people I know who bought a property in the Grammar catchment to live in until their DCs were in. It's easier to get in the nearer you live apparently. I guess not many people do report them as it seems to be an open secret?

ItsaTIARA Fri 28-Dec-12 17:40:32

Agree that it's naive - for all they know the OP might well have her twin sister sobbing on her shoulder on 2nd March because DN has missed out on a place at that school - presumably OP would shop the neighbour in a trice at that point.

sybilwibble Fri 28-Dec-12 18:08:59

Hi all, sorry to be have been away for a day - christmas family things going on. Just to clarify a few things, I didn't make any assumptions whatsoever. The family in question were very open about their plans, asking all the neighbours with kids - " Are we close enough -will we get in?" They wanted affirmation that they were close enough.

I thought it bizarre because, this school is a great school and always has been but the school nearest their family home has always been good too, but in recent years has been steadily progressing to the point that some local parents who live amid the two are genuinely quite torn about which one to list as first choice. So it's not like they are in a desperate situation of great school v sink school.

Other parents on the road appear to be quite aghast, ones whose children ARE applying this year. I guess it could well be one of their children's classmates who get pushed out or wait-listed as the result of such actions. I think I'm going to leave it to them to deal with as it does directly affect them.

Thanks thanks to all who responded - a whole mix of "a Mum's gotta do what she feels is right" through to "akin to benefit fraud.." and I can see both sides, which is why I posted in the first place.

Over and out. sybil

tiggytape Fri 28-Dec-12 18:20:50

It is a serious matter - it is fraud. It is lying on a signed declaration in order to gain an advantage to something you would not otherwise qualify for or be entitled to (and I mean entitled in a legal sense - not in the sense of morally entitled. Morally everyone is entitled to a good school but not everybody will get one)

And the two sides to a story are not hard to figure out. Some people live near a crap school and wish their children could go to a better one. This is unfair. No school should be that bad. But some are. And places are so short that somebody's children will have to go to the bad ones. Is it morally more acceptable that those with parents rich enough to cheat can deprive those who are poorer of their places? Is it morally better that parents who care very much about getting a good school have priority over those who just about live close enough and don't care enough to cheat or report those who do.

Secret Squirrels - buying a house in a good catchment for 2 or 3 years is perhaps morally suspect but is not against the rules. You can live wherever you like for as long as you like. But what you can't do is rent an extra house just for admission purposes. You can't rent a little house nextdoor to a grammar school or any other school and live in it just for the duration of the admissions process whilst hanging onto your 'other' home elsewhere. That is blatant cheating and fraud.

As it happens, councils are much more savvy about this than they were even 2 or 3 years ago. Many now have in depth checks of council tax histories and follow up any suspicious moves eg they can ask your primary school which address they have on record for Year 4 and Year 5 and ask for Dr, child beneft and DVLA address histories too.
Just to be clear though - reporting her won't get her into trouble if she does nothing wrong. If she genuinely stays in the rented house then the council won't take her place away. But they will investigate and if she does move back home in March then quite rightly she will lose it. There's nothing Big Brother about that. They do it to protect all children from parents who have the financial clout to buy their way into good schools that they don't otherwise qualify for.

chloe74 Fri 28-Dec-12 18:23:29

Very different argument to say report them so you can get your child a place, but lets be honest about what your doing. The reason you would report is to give yourself and your kin an advantage, selfish but understandable. In this case the OP isn't doing that and would report for entirely different reasons of morally questionable judgement. Who's to say the next person on the waiting list isn't doing something worse and by being a spiteful neighbor actually lets a less deserving child into the school. If its an open secret at the school that this goes on, then why does this parent deserve to be grassed and the hundreds of other parents not.

DoesntTurkeyNSproutSoupDragOn - unless OP recorded the conversation then it is her opinion about what was said of a second hand conversation, by a grandmother who could have a hidden agenda, and were spoken at a drinks party. In court such testimony would be ripped to shreds.

Why is it morally right for rich middle class parents to buy expensive houses in the area of a 'good' school and try and exclude less well off parents. Yet it is morally wrong for a less affluent family to rent in the area to get their child in. The truth is there is no difference and its wealthy middle class selfish snobbery pulling up the ladder and shutting the hatch in the glass ceiling. Who is playing the game?

sybilwibble Fri 28-Dec-12 18:31:33

Just to be clear Chloe 74 there was no second hand conversation or cobbled together hearsay. I spoke directly to the mum and directly to the granny. The only differentiation was the Mum said they planned to stay a year. The granny said they initially planned to stay a year, but hadn't found anyone to rent the house and unless that situation changed tout suite, they'd be back home in March, due to cost of renting. So hardly a mixed up version of hearsay.

tiggytape Fri 28-Dec-12 18:33:32

chloe74 - It is true some people get away with it and others don't. But that is the risk you take if you cheat at anything.
Realistically the vast majority of people are not cheating so people left on the wait lists are going to be people who have unfairly lost out not other cheaters! If you're going to cheat you would make sure you lived close enough for a place not to be relegated to a waiting list!

There are no 'deserving' and 'less deserving' children.
Even the children whose parents cheat are to be pitied - they can spend one term at their lovely new school only to be kicked out when it is discovered their parents rented and then moved back home. Places aren't just removed in March - they can be removed even after the child starts which is hardly fair on the child since it is the parents who lied not them.

And the rich versus poor argument doesn't wash. It is true that rich people can afford to live near wonderful schools. But only rich people can also afford to live in gorgeous houses and then rent additional homes as and when it helps them cheat to get a good school.
Poorer people live on the outskirts of good catchment areas - right on the border where even 2 or 3 cheaters can deprive them of their place. They cannot afford to live near enough for a guaranteed place and cannot afford to rent another home to cheat. They have to rely on the council stamping out cheating so that their places don't get allocated to richer people who rent closer for a few months.

tiggytape I didn't mean moving into catchment, I meant buying a second property to "live" in temporarily while keeping the original main family home. I suppose people who are well off enough to do that must view it as a cheaper option than private school fees. hmm

DoesntTurkeyNSproutSoupDragOn Fri 28-Dec-12 19:51:12

Why is it morally right for rich middle class parents to buy expensive houses in the area of a 'good' school and try and exclude less well off parents. Yet it is morally wrong for a less affluent family to rent in the area to get their child in.

One is fraud and the other isn't. It's really not that difficult to understand.

Perhaps if you have been in the position where your child has lost out to a cheating family or seen it happen to friends, you would feel differently.

Violet77 Fri 28-Dec-12 19:52:09

Report her, she's wrong.... morally and legally. The more people who cheat the system caught the better.

It's appallng that children loose places because people feel "entitled to the best ". Either live in the community or fuck off home.

onedev Fri 28-Dec-12 22:58:38

They actually haven't done anything wrong - if & when they do, then report, but for now mind your own business.

tiggytape Fri 28-Dec-12 23:25:41

onedev - you are right - if they stay living at that address, give up the old house and make this their permanent home then they've done nothing wrong. If they move back to their real home having secured a school place however then that is fraud and if found out they will lose thier place even if their child has already started at the school.

So, as a local parent wanting a school place, would you rather cheaters were dealt with from March onwards leaving you agonising on a waiting list for months or in January when there was still time to rectify things and forego all that stress?
And as a cheater, would you rather the council told you now that they will be withdrawing your offer if you subsequently move back to your real home or leave it until all the other school places have been allocated and then tell you your offer is being taken away and that no other schools in a 7 mile radius have any spaces left?

For local parents it is better not to be stuck on some list whilst suspected cheaters are dealt.
For the cheaters too (especially this family who do have a decent local alternative which they will lose the option of if they are allocated a place elsewhere only to have it withdrawn), it is better to find out now that the council won't tolerate it rather than have the offer withdrawn next Spring only to find all the schools near their 'real' home are too full to take them. People who cheat and get caught late generally end up being allocated a rubbish school miles from home because that's all that's left. People who cheat and get caught whilst applications are still being processed get quietly advised to rethink their application and ammend it to show their real address so that they don't end up in that situation.

prh47bridge Fri 28-Dec-12 23:33:44

Personally I wouldn't wait to report.

The worst possible scenario for this family's daughter is that they get a place at their preferred school but the LA then find out about it after she has started school and remove the place. That will result in her being kicked out of the school after a few weeks and ending up at an unpopular school that may be miles from home as most of the schools near the family home will be full. The family will then be in a much worse position than they would have been if they hadn't tried to use a temporary address.

If the LA finds out about the apparent attempt to cheat the system now they will treat the family as living at their permanent address. That will at least give them a chance of getting their daughter into one of the more popular schools near their family home and will avoid any possibility of her being kicked out of school part way through the first term.

chloe74 Fri 28-Dec-12 23:47:17

It is very very sad that several posters think that they know better than the parents what is best for a child. Why don't you go the whole hog and report them to social services and get the child removed from their care.

Its no-one else's business, its not a criminal offense... what kind of a world are we creating that neighbors report neighbors to the authorities for nothing other than wanting the best for their children.

VivaLeBeaver Fri 28-Dec-12 23:55:58

The kind who is pissed off that because of other people doing this my child isn't at the school which would have been best for her. She's at a crap comp rather than one of the best grammars in the country thanks to twats like this.

onedev Sat 29-Dec-12 00:12:43

I don't disagree Tiggy, but will say again, they haven't done anything wrong & don't think people should be reported / punished for things they may do, but as yet havent done. I'm not in favour of thought police.

SoupDragon Sat 29-Dec-12 08:43:41

It is very very sad that several posters think that they know better than the parents what is best for a child.

Really? I thought posters were saying that it is not fair to lie and cheat to get your child into a school at the expense of another child.

Its no-one else's business

Yes it is. This is not a victimless action is it? If a child whose parents have cheated gets a place, a child with a legitimate claim misses out.

what kind of a world are we creating that neighbors report neighbors to the authorities for nothing other than wanting the best for their children.

An honest one. They don't just want the bes for their child, they want to cheat another child out of a place.

I can only assume that you have either done this or are planning to since you are so vehemently opposed to any suggestion that it is wrong.

prh47bridge Sat 29-Dec-12 10:23:55

Agree with SoupDragon.

These parents are attempting to cheat. What they have said they are doing is clearly and unequivocally against the ruiles. If they succeed they will have cheated another child out of a place that is rightfully theirs. And, as I have outlined above, the consequences for their child could be much worse than if they had not attempted to cheat.

onedev - They may not have done anything wrong as yet (although they may have - some LAs specifically state that if parents own a property but live in rented accommodation they must use the address of the property they own) but they have clearly stated what they are doing. They are attempting to cheat.

The only punishment they will receive if they are reported now is that they are less likely to get a place at their preferred school as the LA will use the family home as their address for processing their application. If the LA doesn't find out about their cheating until after places are offered the punishment will be worse, assuming they are offered a place at their preferred school. They will then lose that place and find that their daughter ends up at an unpopular school, probably much worse than if they had been honest. Even worse, if the LA doesn't find out until after the start of the autumn term their daughter may face the ignominy of being thrown out of school for her parents' actions.

JenaiMathis Sat 29-Dec-12 11:14:57

It's funny how on benefit cheat threads practically every poster cries "report the bastards", yet the first responses on this thread were to keep out of it!

The family in this case are being so blatant they will get caught out. They don't sound terribly well informed, either.

We have children in our village who have missed out on a place at our primary because of people doing this; on that basis I would be giving the LA a call.

Muminwestlondon Sat 29-Dec-12 12:07:26

I think whether OP decides to report them depends on a number of factors...

For example does the LA (like a certain London borough for example) turn a blind eye and by doing so tacitly encourage this behaviour? Is renting specifically mentioned and prohibited in the LA's brochure/school admission information? If so they may well check the council tax information and get them that way.

Is the mother so indiscreet that she has blabbed to all and sundry, so any number of people could have grassed her up or is OP the only one who knows the real reason for the move (has the daughter left her previous primary school)? If not OP might be in a very difficult position.

I must admit that I definitely know of people who did this a few years ago for primary schools and didn't report them. At the time I suppose I thought it was up to the school or LA to catch them out. I would also find it difficult to report a neighbour. Nowadays on balance I probably would report them especially having seen the misery caused when children just miss out on a place.

tiggytape Sat 29-Dec-12 13:17:26

This isn't about social services or snitching or saying what is best for other people's children. It is about a fair way of sharing out limited resources and some people using wealth to cheat this system at the expense of those who are too honest or too poor to buy the same advantage.
This is not O.K and it is the business of everyone who ever uses a community school or knows people that do to ensure this doesn't happen.

From every single point of view, it is better they are caught sooner rather than later. Nothing bad will happen to them - prosecutions for fraud are not brought anymore. Instead the council will simply ammend the form to show their real address and they will get allocated the good school near their home instead of this super school they want.
At the same time, someone else will forego the misery of missing out on a place that was rightfully theirs and not miss out.

If they are caught or reported in March, they will still lose the school place at the school they want but by then there will be no other places left to allocate them. The child whose place they stole will eventually get it back but only after a long wait on the list whilst it is sorted out.

Nothing bad will happen to this family if reported - it will be doing them a favour in fact because I'm sure they'd rather have the chance now to ammend the form and get a good school near their real house than be caught out in March when all other places are full. And if they tell the council they want to remain at the rented address and are selling the family home then they can do that to make their application valid.

This isn't about individuals each quietly doing the best for their child. It affects every single other family who is applying that year. It is about a limited number of school places and some people cheating the system to deprive one child in order that their child gains instead. It is as direct as that which makes it everyone else's concern.

tethersjinglebellend Sat 29-Dec-12 14:16:24

I think a tie-break system of random allocation within broad defined catchment areas as opposed to distance would go some way to address this problem.

tiggytape Sat 29-Dec-12 14:36:16

tethers - you are right. The system is very harsh to many. In London, I know it is perfectly possible to live too far from your nearest 5 schools to qualify for a place at any of them. This is awful as a parent who just wants a local school nevermind about the good, better, best distinctions.

The soaring birth rate has placed huge pressures on school places and caused a lot of stress and misery for parents so there is a case for introducing random allocations (as some areas already do). This brings it's own problems of course: transport issues, siblings and friends split up, less certaintly all round but it is probably a bit fairer and it would discourage cheaters who'd have nothing to gain by renting in a certain street.

SoupDragon Sat 29-Dec-12 14:58:10

Any system with a catchment area will lead to people temporarily moving into catchment in order to cheat.

weblette Sat 29-Dec-12 15:17:14

Our very-oversubscribed local boys' grammar introduced a rule - upheld at legal appeal - about renting when the family has another property within 25 miles. The original address will be considered unless the rental was in use from 18 months prior to the application being submitted. Amazing the impact it's had!

tiggytape Sat 29-Dec-12 15:47:13

weblette - lots of LAs are doing similar or the same. In Merton for example, the wording is very clear as they have problems with oversubscription and popular versus unpopular schools so are keen to warn people off trying this. They say (like much of London):

It is not permitted for a family to use a temporarily rented address to secure a place of their preference. The Council 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.

People get caught out from tip-offs but the council aren't stupid. Any recent change of address is going to sound alarm bells. Most changes are genuine in which case no further action is taken but if they see children go to a primary school 7 miles away from their 'new rented home' they're going to wonder where they were living before and investigate to see if that home is still owned by the family. If the primary school and Dr has another address on file that isn't the rented one or if a family are paying 2 lots of council tax, the council are going to find out.

Again though - nothing bad happens - they gave up the idea of prosecuting people for this long ago as it is much easier and more effective just to ammend their applications (if caught early) or take away their school places altogether (if caught late). For most people ending up with no school place is deterent enough.

orangeberries Sat 29-Dec-12 16:55:18

I find the idea of the LEA knowing about what people might own and for what purpose really bizarre.

People own buy to let properties, often they end up empty for a little while; people move and leave their house empty, do it up, then let it, or try and sell it but don't manage, get a relative in there for a while. I also know of several people who own a small flat in London and then the family live in a big house miles away. Some people also have to move urgently due to work changes, especially in this climate. The above are all genuine real life examples.

I can't believe the LEA would really go and investigate all these arrangements and really be able to discern whether a family is genuine or not, it seems complete madness to me. The idea that people live for years in the same house and never have to move a mile from a school seems utterly bizarre.

orangeberries Sat 29-Dec-12 17:01:05

PS having endured the utter misery of GENUINELY moving houses 5 miles up the road and not being allowed a place in our local school because our application was 1 month late, I find the system very inadequate for anyone who wants to move when the children are between the ages of 3 and 18!!!

prh47bridge Sat 29-Dec-12 18:36:27

The LA has a variety of ways of finding out what properties people own including council tax records. And they must investigate cases where an application may be fradulent. It is not unknown for councils to ask the neighbours at the address given and watch the alleged home to see if the family is actually living there as well as finding out which primary school the children are attending and looking at various other information available to them. Where there is a history of people renting to get a school place LAs are generally very cautious of anyone using a rented address, especially if they have moved there recently.

prh47bridge Sat 29-Dec-12 18:37:56

And I'm sorry you had a bad experience when you moved house. Yes, it is difficult to get a place locally if all schools are oversubscribed. Short of holding some places back for people moving into the area (which is currently illegal) I don't know how else this could be handled.

losingtrust Sat 29-Dec-12 19:12:08

Is it any different to having your kids baptized a couple of weeks before school admissions just to get into a faith school and that is open to anyone with a high or low salaries and this happens more often?

JenaiMathis Sat 29-Dec-12 19:23:39

losing, you generally have to have a child baptised as a baby, and provide evidence from your priest that you actually attend church.

Finding God a fortnight before admissions opens won't cut it for most oversubscribed church schools. I can't comment on other faith schools.

chloe74 Sat 29-Dec-12 19:36:59

If you are not allowed to rent in an admission area to get into a school then all you will do is create enclaves where only the rich can afford to buy houses there and they will keep the less affluent out. If a school wants to stop non residents getting places they can easily do that. What is wrong is putting neighbor against neighbor. Parents should be putting their efforts into making all schools as good, not squabbling over the elite few that are and creating a big brother state.

tiggytape Sat 29-Dec-12 19:39:53

I can't believe the LEA would really go and investigate all these arrangements and really be able to discern whether a family is genuine or not

They have to in many areas. The situation has got so silly in some parts of the country that they have to treat any house move at the time of admissions as potentially fraudulent. As you say there are dozens of genuine reasons for people to move house hence they investigate. They don't kick children out of schools with no evidence - they investigate properly the family circumstances and reasons for the move as they are obliged to do. So if you've turned your old house into student flats - they know you'll not be moving back. Or if your old house is unsold in Scotland and you're renting in Surrey, they know the move is permanent as nobody can commute that far for school etc...

They have a legal duty to ensure places go to the people that they are supposed to and that the system is managed in accordance with the rules and that cheaters are identified and not allowed to benefit from having cheated. It is taken very seriously - which is as it should be and this is more the case than ever now places are so short and more people are tempted to cheat.

And you are right - the system is awful for people moving outside the normal admissions rounds. If you move to an area where schools are full and especially if you have more than one child, it can be a complete nightmare to get a local place let alone the same school for all of them. I do sympathise but they cannot 'save' places anymore for latecomers (against the law to do so). So many people give up on the whole idea of moving because of the whole catch 22 situation whereby you cannot get a school place until you've moved but you don't want to move until you know you'll get a local school allocated.

OhDearConfused Sun 30-Dec-12 09:33:42

And to the point made above a number of times that "it is not criminal".

It is. It is fraud. It is just that you do not get prosecuted for it any more since there is another effective "remedy": removal of the place.

onedev Sun 30-Dec-12 15:58:42

It's not criminal to move to a better school catchment. Moving back is wrong, but so far I really am struggling to see what their crime is at this current point in time.

libelulle Sun 30-Dec-12 16:23:57

I do wonder how they ascertain whether cases are genuine though. A friend of mine has just moved into a rented house at the very centre of a popular catchment, having realised too late that their 'bought' house had a rubbish school. There is no fraud involved - they have no intention of moving back to their old house, but equally their house is not on the market yet because it needs work doing on it before they sell. When it is sold, they will buy a house in catchment, though probably not as close as they are now, as they are indeed in a rental right next to the school that is often used for 'catchment fraud' if you want to call it that. My friends are morally and legally in the right - but how on earth do the council know that they are? And where is the line drawn? If I rent a house in catchment for 2 years and rent out my 'permanent' house for the duration, then move back, is that illegal? Genuinely interested in the answers here - seems like too many grey areas to make all councils able to pursue any but the most blatant abuses of the system.

oldpeculiar Sun 30-Dec-12 16:32:34

But they are not doing anything wrong.If they find a tenant for their house before March, that will be at least 6 months.If they have gone to the trouble of renting in catchment then they will be sure to dot all the Is and cross all the Ts
LEAs can put any old bollox on their website, but at the end of the day it has to stand up in court and it is very difficult to prove that someone has acted fraudulently.For example how on earth would you prove there were no marital difficulties when a mother moved out?

CelineMcBean Sun 30-Dec-12 16:45:16

I was in the mind your own business camp but SoupDragon's point is spot on and swayed me: "This is not a victimless crime". Quite. Although not criminal in the legal sense it is depriving another child of a place.

I have also just realised that based on where I live if a parent were to do this it is likely that my child would miss out. I'm not asking for much - I just want my dc to go to their nearest school.

I'd report. It is immoral and when it is discovered (and it will be with stupid parent and grandmother blabbing) it will cause upset for the child. Turning a blind eye is giving tacit consent.

And yes, the whole "system" is corrupt and wrong but a line must be drawn somewhere.

FestiveElement Sun 30-Dec-12 17:24:45

I'm mainly of the opinion that the system is at fault far mor than parents who are just trying to do their best by their child.

But the argument that there is a victim in this who is a child, does make me think twice.

The think is that if you say there is a victim, then you are basically saying that the victim deserved the place more than culprit. And I just don't think hats right, they both deserve the place equally if that is the school that's best for them. One of them is going to miss out, and considering they are children who have no responsibility for the choices their parents make, I'm not sure that either of them can be considered a victim.

I take the point that rules are there and if they are broken then that's wrong, but I don't think it holds much weight when the rules are unfair in the first place. And they are unfair, because any system that denies a child the school that is right for them on the basis that their parents chose to live in the wrong street is basically unfair. Especially when parents have to take measures like this to get into the school that is closest or one of the closest to where they live.

tiggytape Sun 30-Dec-12 17:46:35

libelulle - your friends are likely to have their application scrutinised more closely than others but that doesn't mean they are in trouble. The council just has to be careful - it doesn't treat all renters as cheaters but it has to be more careful with their applications than others to ensure the process is done according to the rules. The proof they've done no wrong comes when they get a school place in March and don't then hot-foot it back to their real home (which they have no intention of doing). That's what the council will look for. Renting a house is allowed but renting then moving back home again isn't.

Festive - there aren't enough places for everyone to have one at many schools. There has to be a system that decides who gets the places and who doesn't. ANY system will lead to people losing out so if you think that is unfair that some children cannot get into the best school for them, then there is no way around it (except to endlessly expand class sizes and school sizes until 100% of applicants get an offer). At some schools over 90% of applicants will be disappointed - that's just the way it is and it dies mean a lot of children every year get turned down from schools where they would thrive.

So it just boils down to how you decide which kids have to lose out and not get the best school for them - the ones who live close enough but who are ousted by cheaters moving closer than them or the cheaters whose parents can afford to rent a second home (plus pay all the extra bills) for several months to claim a place?
I agree with you that none of this is the children's fault but it is not a 'victimless crime' in the sense that if a cheater wants a place badly enough, they can only get one by taking a place off somebody else. Parents of one child using financial clout to deprive another child of a place is as unfair as it gets. The system may have its faults but at least buying your way in is definitely not allowed.

And re all this talk of laws and courts: school admissions are very serious and enshrined in law. So LAs cannot put any old rubbish on their website - it has to meet the Admissions Code 2012 which is legally enforced. And, for parents, it is an offence to lie during the application process or deliberatley misreprsent information about your address in order to gain from it. It isn't the case that a council has a few thousand school places to dish out and it doesn't matter too much how it is done - it is a legal and serious process which is why councils have to treat it as such. It doesn't go to court because there are effective ways of dealing with fraud (withdrawing offers) and then the only comeback cheaters have in an appeal panel who will know all the facts and will not side with them once it is established they lied to get in.

libelulle Sun 30-Dec-12 18:07:25

I'd be more sympathetic to the 'losers' if the whole system wasn't distorted by wealth in the first place. If those parents committing fraud could afford to live in catchment, they probably would. So saying 'I live I catchment and therefore my child has more right to attend the outstanding school than yours' usually amounts to saying 'my child has more right than yours because I could afford to buy in catchment and you couldn't'. The morality of the system is far from clear cut even if the laws are clear.

libelulle Sun 30-Dec-12 18:09:11

I'd be more sympathetic to the 'losers' if the whole system wasn't distorted by wealth in the first place. If those parents committing fraud could afford to live in catchment, they probably would. So saying 'I live I catchment and therefore my child has more right to attend the outstanding school than yours' often amounts to saying 'my child has more right than yours because I could afford to buy in catchment and you couldn't'. The morality of the system is far from clear cut even if the laws are clear.

FestiveElement Sun 30-Dec-12 18:09:18

I do see what you are saying, I really do. But if we leave the legalities out of it and concentrate on the morality of it, the 'cheaters' aren't taking a place away from someone else. The place has not yet been awarded, it does not rightfully belong to anyone to be able to take it away from them.

Parents of one child using financial clout to deprive another child of a place is as unfair as it gets. The system may have its faults but at least buying your way in is definitely not allowed

I disagree with this because people are using financial clout whether they legitimately buy a house in the right area or they rent for a year. I don't think we can say that one way is fair an one way isn't when they basically boil down to the same thing - parents using their finances to give their children the best possible chance. Buying your way in is allowed, but only if you do it in the way the law tells you you can, and that seems unfair to me.

I know all of this is worthless because the law is the law and we can't pick and choose which laws we want to follow, but I just can't agree that there is a victim when either way, one deserving child is going to miss out to another equally deserving child.

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Sun 30-Dec-12 18:10:29

the neighbours have moved from an area with another good school, so have freed up a place there for someone who might have been unwillingly travelling to the school they are now applying for??

DontmindifIdo Sun 30-Dec-12 18:27:04

Thing is, the Granny might be of the opinion they will move out in March because they haven't found anyone to rent out their house, that doesn't mean for one minute the mother isn't savvy enough to realise this is a year long commitment if she doesn't want the school place removed. If you do report this, then come March they stay put and are still in that rented house in September, they won't lose their place. Even more so if they then are able to find someone to rent out their house in the mean time.

Grandparents often have strong opinions on what their DCs/DIL's will do, doesn't often bare any relation to what happens.

Oh, and private secondary schools round here are £30k a year. Even if the rent is costing them £2k a month, they are still going to spend less over a year than they would on just one year of private. If you think that private school is a £210k commitment, whereas moving into a catchment area would probably be a less than £25k commitment, it's easy to see that it doesn't follow that people can afford the good private education just because they can afford to run two houses for 1 year. (and if they are leaving the main home empty, they will not have anything like double running costs.)

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Sun 30-Dec-12 18:38:18

GPs do get it very wrong, we took my mother to our local church and she loudly asked someone how often we had to come to get DS into the connected school shock and has talked about this to other people too (how we have to go if we want DS to go to the school)

now we've been going to that church since before we even considered having children, have always been involved in it, and would continue to do so even if he didn't go to the connected school. Its our church.

She is technically right, DS does have to go to the church to get into the school, but the way she says it implies that we go to the church just to get him in the school when actually we go to the church anyway, so he IS in the criteria to get into the school anyway IYKWIM and we're not doing anything extra for the sake of the school!

Her facts are right but the way she says it makes us sound like system players

she'll use phrases like "and they have to be christened.." even though she knows full well that at the time when we got DS christened as a new baby we didn't think DHs job would even allow is to stay in the area for as long as it has, so we had no clue what schools we'd be aiming for at that point! We just wanted him christened at the church we attended!

She doesn't get it when we point out how they way she talks about it is making us look!

DontmindifIdo Sun 30-Dec-12 19:03:56

oh yes, we've had that about the school and church - my mum is most horrified that we aren't going to put DS in the school attached to our church, she's convinced that's why we've been going to that one, it's making her look wrong that we're going to aim for a closer one... hmm

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Sun 30-Dec-12 19:10:36

yup when it came to it it was a very difficult toss up between the state and church school to decide which was actually best for DS, and we're still not 100% sure even now, so we weren't desperate for the church school because the state one is great, we just like the church! both are good, but my mum makes it sound like we've been going to church (since before he was even an idea hmm) in desperation to get him into the church school hmm

tiggytape Sun 30-Dec-12 19:51:40

ILoveSalad - that is very true. GP's often get an idea in their head that's hard to shift. I am sure the people at church who've known you all this time don't think that at all.

Festive - cheating really does boil down to using financial clout to get a place
I agree with you that people who are wealthier tend to live near enough to the good schools to get a guaranteed place so they are safe from this.
But only wealthier people can afford to cheat by renting to also get a place. There is no way that paying £thousands in rent and bills on 2 properties is in anyway redressing the balance between rich and poor getting school places. It is just another way for richer people to jump the queue.

The people who don't get a guaranteed place in all of this are the same ones as those pushed out by cheaters - people who cannot afford to live in the safe catchment area and take their chances on the fringes where housing is less expensive.
So cheating doesn't affect wealthier applicants - it is going to impact almost always on poorer families depriving them of places.

And it is a direct impact in that sense not a hypothetical one. There are only so many school places to be shared out so if someone cheats to get one, someone else on the list will not be successful as a direct result of that. The fact the cheater won't be taking up a place near their real home or may really want this school is irrelevant - they have prevented someone who would otherwise have got that offer at the local school from receiving it.

The system is unfair in the sense that hundreds more children apply for some schools than can ever get a place. And it is unfair that houses located near enough to get a place are often pricier ones. But the way to correct that isn't by allowing other wealthy people to rent short term near the school and get the last few places in preference to those who live a bit further away in lower priced areas.

libelulle Sun 30-Dec-12 20:27:46

I disagree tiggy, because you are assuming that house prices diminish as you get to the edge of the catchment. That may be the case in some areas, but by no means all.

Where I live, you are essentially pretty likely to get a place in your catchment school. So there is no 'differentiation' between different bits of the catchment - there are just expensive catchments and cheap catchments. For us, for eg, a similar house to ours three streets away in a different catchment would go for 200k more, at least, even though both houses are on the edge of their respective catchments. So actually, you ARE looking at a straight equivalence between wealth and school catchment. In that situation, renting out a house for a year in a catchment you could not in a million years afford to buy in does not seem particularly morally dubious to me.

libelulle Sun 30-Dec-12 20:30:12

And I also disagree that it is necessarily something reserved for the super-rich. Not open to those struggling financially, certainly, but if you rent your own house out for the duration, it is not equivalent to paying 2x rent/mortgage.

mummytime Sun 30-Dec-12 20:46:43

Oh just to add two points.

I know one family who did rent to make sure their eldest got into "highly desirable school" the irony is she would have got in anyway from their family home.

In my area house prices can actually go up as you get to the edge of "highly desirable school catchment" and even more just outside. But people who live in those roads do usually send their children to private schools, and the houses tend to be bigger, have more land or better views (or just more expensive neighbours).

tiggytape Sun 30-Dec-12 21:29:28

I am probably more London thinking in all of this as that is the experiences I have re house prices and catchment. The closer to a school you are the pricier the hosues are. There are no set catchment areas - distance is the tie breaker if/when too many apply so those slightly further away are most likley to be gazumped by cheating and are the poorer families too.

But however you dress it up - and however unfair it is that not everybody can go to a school they prefer - cheating does not make it any fairer overall. No matter how you skew the moral argument to fit it, it is still against the rules to do this for good reason - it makes everything even less fair for everybody.

There aren’t enough places at many schools to give one to all who apply so most parents feel that any system which makes them one of the excluded ones is unfair. Lots of families are very against sibling links for example because they don’t have siblings at a school but live much closer than those who do.
In truth there is no fair way to tell the majority of people they cannot have a place at a school they desperately want but some sort of system has to be used.
If people cheat then it just becomes even more unfair than it already is given the shortage of spaces. In our area and many others those who lose out to cheaters also happen to be the lower income families but actually even if this wasn't the case - cheating anyone of their place is wrong.

Luckily more and more councils are on the ball over this issue now and do far more checks than ever before. More Freedom of Information requests are used to check councils are cracking down on it and more LAs are being forced to prove that they investigate this issue seriously. Hopefully it will become more of a moot point once more people are seen to be caught and cheating in this way ceases to work for more and more schools.

oldpeculiar Sun 30-Dec-12 22:41:50

If you are living in catchment at the time you apply then you are not cheating, whether it be rental of a second home or having lived there for donkeys years.
I know loads of people who have done it, not because they can't afford to live in the catchment area (in fact often quite the opposite - the catchment area is more downmarket)They just don't want to live there.As long as you follow the letter of the law (if not the spirit) then that's fine IMO

libelulle Sun 30-Dec-12 22:49:14

Yes I'm still actually to see anything that suggests that renting a property in catchment for a good length of time and actually living there is 'fraud' in admissions terms. Clearly, giving a grandparents address/renting a studio flat and pretending to live there - not on. But actually moving house for an entire year or more? Is that really fraud?! Someone seemed to suggest above that if you own a house somewhere that is your 'permanent' home in a council's eyes even if you rent it out to someone else and live somewhere different for an extended length of time. I find it hard to believe that that would stand up in court.

FestiveElement Sun 30-Dec-12 22:59:56

I agree that if someone actually moves their life to a new address it shouldn't be considered as fraud. That is very different to giving an address you don't actually live at on an application form.

SoupDragon Sun 30-Dec-12 23:05:56

It isn't really different. Moving temporarily in order to gain an advantage wrt school admissions is cheating.

FestiveElement Sun 30-Dec-12 23:08:11

People move temporarily for other reasons though, it's got to be very hard to find out the truth of why someone has moved.

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Sun 30-Dec-12 23:25:29

"It isn't really different. Moving temporarily in order to gain an advantage wrt school admissions is cheating"

is it really different from considering schools when doing any move? most people who move who have preschool children consider school catchments as a major criteria in their search! and lots of people sell up and move into catchments.

However it's become harder to move about in some areas, properties don't sell as well as they used to so people who would have sold up their pre child property and properly moved to a good school catchment don't have that option any more so now can only rent while renting out their other property! But they're no different from all the people who managed to sell and deliberately moved to the catchment when houses sold up faster are they???

SoupDragon Sun 30-Dec-12 23:25:43

I imagine that the number of people who have to move temporarily at the time they have to make school applications but aren't doing it to cheat is vanishingly small.

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Sun 30-Dec-12 23:28:22

those people might have been trying to sell for years to buy into the area, but as the admission date approached realised that the sale might not happen in time

selling up and buying into the area is allowed, why not renting out and renting in the area? exact same motivations

the move might have been on the cards for years, but pushed forward so the children weren't settled in one school then moved to the area

libelulle Sun 30-Dec-12 23:28:25

On that basis, moving house at all to gain admissions advantage is cheating. If you are prepared to up sticks totally for an entire year, that is not cheating, it's playing the system. People move for all sorts of reasons all the time - we were tempted one year because of a particularly awful set of student neighbours who we knew would be gone following September! If we had, then council would have queried us using the old address for school admissions, not the new one!! Councils cannot legislate against people manipulating the system, only actively defrauding it. Much as you might not like it, the two are not the same thing.

SoupDragon Sun 30-Dec-12 23:29:36

is it really different from considering schools when doing any move? most people who move who have preschool children consider school catchments as a major criteria in their search!

Of course it is. Can you really not see that? confused

I moved here when my eldest was 3. We moved into the area because of the three good primaries compared to one dodgy primary and a very good church school where we used to live. Funnily enough I'm still here, in the same house, 11 years later. Unlike the cheaters.

Moving into a permanent family home is completely different to temporarily moving into catchment to cheat the system.

SoupDragon Sun 30-Dec-12 23:31:38

We moved as we needed a bigger house. We chose the area on the basis of the schools.

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Sun 30-Dec-12 23:31:57

also, if you don't own you can give notice and rent in a catchment and that's perfectly okay?

but if you own and can't sell you can't move catchments?

I don't feel the need to move, but if I did I know my home wouldn't sell easily at the mo, it's taking neighbours years to sell theirs! but homes around here DO rent easily

so people who live in a more saleable area can move catchment, people who just rent and don't own anywhere can move catchment, but if I do I'm more immoral than them? just cause I'm stuck with my property and can only live here or rent it but not sell it?

how is that fair?

(again, I don't want to move, am happy with local schools, but if I wasn't?)

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Sun 30-Dec-12 23:34:31

Soupdragon, I CAN'T exchange my owned home for one in a different catchment like you did.. they're just not selling round here, and I own so I can't just give notice and move to a different catchment either, I would HAVE to keep my home and rent it out even if I wanted to move somewhere for more space as well as a different catchment

SoupDragon Sun 30-Dec-12 23:34:32

but if you own and can't sell you can't move catchments?

No one has said that.
All that has been said is that you can't rent temporarily in order to jump up the admissions list.

SoupDragon Sun 30-Dec-12 23:37:34

Soupdragon, I CAN'T exchange my owned home for one in a different catchment like you did

and? I'm not entirely sure what your point is. Unless you are, hypothetically, planning to rent temporarily then you aren't cheating are you? confused

Illgetmycoat Sun 30-Dec-12 23:38:16

I'll bet my bottom dollar this is in North London.

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Sun 30-Dec-12 23:39:10

but EVERYONE who uses school catchment areas as a criteria when househunting for rented or bought homes is doing it "to jump up the admissions list"

I have never met anyone who has moved with preschool age kids who has said "no we won't try and move to a good school catchment, we'll just blindly pick a house we like for other reason sand take pot luck with admissions, we'll just take whatever school happens to cover it hmm"

SoupDragon Sun 30-Dec-12 23:39:45

Anyway, I no longer care. There are clearly some people who think it is Ok and others who do not. There are some who have seen children miss out because of cheaters and those who can't see the "victims".

Nothing I can say will change that.

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Sun 30-Dec-12 23:40:45

Soup dragon no I'm not but IMO I wouldn't be cheating if I did keep my home and rent in a different catchment, any more than people who sell up and buy in a better catchment, or people give notice on rented homes and move to a rented home in a better catchment
.. not all of those people stay there forever more either! or even intend to!

tiggytape Sun 30-Dec-12 23:41:07

Festive - it is considered a fraud and is treated as such. Even if a family physically moves out of their lovely 4 bedroom detached house into a 2 bedroom flat they've rented in a prime catchment area - the council will treat it as a fraudulent application unless they genuinely stay at that 2 bedroom rented flat and make it impossible to move back to their family home (eg if they sell the 4 bed house or the 4 bed house is 300 miles away for example they can prove they've no intention of going back). The act of physically moving for a few months does not make it less fraudulent either morally or legally.

There are of course a few genuine reasons why anyone would choose to live 5 miles away from a house they already own but if there is a genuine reason, the council will listen. That's the point of the investigation process. There are no court cases - the onus is on parents to explain any suspicious activities such as renting and living in a a tiny flat 5 miles from where they've lived before. The onus is on the council to spot and follow up reports of suspicious house moves close to application dates (even where it is proved the family has physically moved not just moved on paper).

If you move and rent for a genuine reason and aren't going to move back to your 'real home' again after the application is accepted, you are doing nothing wrong and have no reason to worry.

As ILoveSalad says, some people are forced to rent in area before they are able to sell their old house because it is hard to sell properties in this market and many people cannot wait indefinitely. That is also fine. It only stops being fine if you later move back to the original house after the admissions process is finished. If you do that it becomes fraudulent and your place will be withdrawn if the LA find out directly or via the primary / secondary schools involved or other parents.

Basically renting just for a school place is not allowed if you then subsequently go back to your real home. Morally and legally it is wrong. Moving to an area (either renting or buying) just for a school place and then staying put afterwards may be morally suspect but is within the rules.
There are more ways than ever to be caught out, LAs are more keen on cracking down on it due to general shortage of places and more parents are more willing to report it, again due to increased competition for places.

Greensleeves Sun 30-Dec-12 23:41:10

I would mind my own business personally. School catchments and parental choice in this country = a disaster. I am lucky that my local school is good enough. I sympathise with anyone facing sending their child to a school they are worried about.

Agree with the pp who pointed out that this couple should probably stop telling all and sundry about it though. They will fall foul of a busybody...

Dottiespots Sun 30-Dec-12 23:41:33

No I dont think I would tell on them. In their world they are just trying to do the right thing for their children and that is what we all try and do no matter what it takes. And they are really really doing alot and going way out on a limb for their kids. Sometimes schools are not all they are cracked up to be anyway so hope they are not disappointed,

perceptionInaPearTree Sun 30-Dec-12 23:44:03

It's none of your business. I don't see that they are doing anything illegal. Circumstances for many people could mean that they move out of a catchment after their child got a place anyway.

People like you are the reason I never discuss my personal life with anyone.

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Sun 30-Dec-12 23:45:56

"It only stops being fine if you later move back to the original house after the admissions process is finished. "

There's lots of reasons to move back to the original house like:
- its not selling
- renting it out didn't work out how they had calculated financially (i.e. a run of bad tennants and repairs)

moving for school catchments is as "real" a reason to move 5 miles as say wanting more space or a spare bedroom or because they (usually mistakenly as hadn't counted on shit tennants) thought it might free up some money to downsize while renting a bigger property

FestiveElement Sun 30-Dec-12 23:46:49

Tiggy, we will just have to agree to disagree that moving into a catchment area temporarily is morally wrong, because I just don't think it is.

In my opinion, it is much more wrong to not do what you can to give your children the best education you possibly can.

libelulle Sun 30-Dec-12 23:49:27

Ok so how long for then tiggy? For the sake of argument, you stay 3 years then move back is that still fraudulent? If you rent out your house you are not making it permanently unavailable to you, so how does that work for families who rent in new catchment because they can't sell in old one? I am not saying you are wrong in how councils investigate, but I am bemused at how they draw the line between temporary and permanent moves in urban areas with highly mobile populations even not allowing for catchment.

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Sun 30-Dec-12 23:50:13

(I do actually know people who've moved from larger owned properties to small rented flats because they thought it'd work better for them financially, sadly it doesn't seem to work very well, but people do do it because they initially think the maths makes sense!)

tiggytape Sun 30-Dec-12 23:51:34

It actually sounds like they believe they are not breaking the rules for them to be so blatant about it.

Some people think that if you rent for a school place, as long as you actually live at the rented address for a time then this is allowed. It isn't. And it may be that they only find this out after they've blabbed to half the town, somebody else with a child in the same year grasses them up and they have their offer withdrawn.
A lot of people don't realise that school admissions are highly regulated and governed by laws and think councils don't really care too much about how it's all allocated or that there aren't very strict systems in place (mainly because in the past places weren't in such short supply so the heavy handed approach was raraely needed).

The chances of them getting caught having told other people (and through council tax records with such a recent move) is very high and it is a shame because, although they have broken the rules to try to advantage their own child above someone else's, it isn't actually them but their child who suffers (loses place at good school and potentially cannot get an offer at any other local school as by then, all spaces will be allocated).
Like a lot of admissions stuff, LAs should probably explain things like this more clearly to parents and publish more freely the figures on people getting offers withdrawn - there are lots every year who do but of course nobody ever confesses to it so people assume cheaters are getting away with it.

CaHoHoHootz Sun 30-Dec-12 23:54:11

They are living in the house so I think that's ok isn't it???.?

just guessing

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Sun 30-Dec-12 23:54:48

just because the council do that and use criteria which IMO isn't fair, doesn't mean I think it's morally right to help the council do this by grassing

especially if the people grassing sold up or gave notice to deliberately move into catchment - v hypocritical IMO

tiggytape Sun 30-Dec-12 23:59:20

Festive - the only reason I think it is morally wrong is that schools aren't forced to take all who apply in a certain area so by pushing one child forward for a place, another child is denied a chance. Doing the best for your child is great. Doing the best for your child at the direct expense of someone else's is not right (IMO)

libelulle - Councils make a judgement call and parents have to abide by that. If the council rules your place is withdrawn and you disagree, all you can do is appeal. So you don't really want to be in the dodgy situation in the first place. If you are renting and still own a property very nearby, some councils will point blank refuse to accept your rented address at all no matter what you say. Most however do a case by case basis and the onus is on the parents to prove it - to prove their 'real' home is nolonger their permanent address eg they've turned it into student flats or rented it out longterm to someone unconnected with the family (so no chance of return anytime soon). There's no court cases or fraud proseutions - they simply take away your place and the only way to get it back again is to convince an appeal panel you haven't cheated afterall (which if you have cheated is going to be hard to do).

tiggytape Mon 31-Dec-12 00:01:08

CaHoHoHootz - no it isn't. A lot of people think it is O.K and allowed but it isn't. The worry here is that the family seem to believe by moving short term they are within the rules and cannot lose a place if offered (else why would they be blabbing so much?). They are wrong and may be in real difficulty next year if/when they move back to their real home.

Viviennemary Mon 31-Dec-12 00:02:37

They haven't told lies. So what's the problem.

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Mon 31-Dec-12 00:03:55

hmm everyone who moves to a catchment at any point in any way and applies to a school is potentially denying another child a place
but freeing up a place somewhere they didn't apply for/moved from

its okay to say about new bought house "yes its got a smaller garden than our old one, but it's in a good catchment", anyway we'll prob sell and move in a couple of years, but not okay to say you are renting for exact same reason

tiggytape Mon 31-Dec-12 00:10:31

Viviennemary - the home they've listed isn't the one they own, lived in last year or will live in next year. They are just camping out there for a school place which isn't allowed. The addmision booklet clearly defines what is meant by child's address and a short term rented house whilst owning another house out of catchment is definitely not part of the definition they signed up to (just like you can't list granny's house even if child stays there 2 nights a week or dad's house if child benefit goes to mum).

TBH - whatever people's feelings on it, those are the rules and if it is a popular school, it is likely every single application will be scrutinised automatically to see if the family own a property nearby. There are some schools that are so oversubscribed they have to do checks on all who apply because the temptation to cheat is so great. From OP's post, this sounds like that type of school.

Whiteworm Mon 31-Dec-12 00:16:37

I would. It is not truthful.

tiggytape Mon 31-Dec-12 00:17:47

ILoveSalad - this isn't about renting versus buying.
It isn't about how long you live there either.
It is about one very specific thing which is not allowed and that is owning a house in one area but then renting an additional house just for a few months in order to access a school that you'd not qualify for otherwise.

Renting / buying / house hopping or living somewhere for 30 years dont matter. What matters is you mustn't live out of area but rent an extra home to get a school place that your 'real' home doesn't qualify you for.

If this family sold their house, rented nextdoor to OP, got a great school place and then purchased a house 15 miles away - that is allowed under the rules.
Ditto if they'd rented the old house, gave notice on it, moved to a new rented house, got great school place then rented yet another house 3 miles away. Also allowed.
You can choose to buy or rent just because you like local schools - it is just the specific thing of owning one house then renting an additional one for a school place that is banned.

prh47bridge Mon 31-Dec-12 00:31:04

They haven't told lies

Yes they have. When completing the application form you are required to give your permanent address. You are not allowed to give an address you are renting temporarily in order to gain admission to your preferred school. By giving this address on their application these parents are claiming it is their permanent address. It isn't.

As tiggytape says, the council has to make a judgement call. Occasionally they get it wrong as with a case I helped with earlier this year where a family had genuinely moved into rented accommodation. Unfortunately their landlord denied they were living there because, unbeknown to them, he was fiddling his council tax. Parents can appeal if they think the council has got it wrong.

Some parents get away with this kind of behaviour. Some think they have got away when they haven't - the LA found out what they were up to and used their actual home address but they were close enough to the school to gain entry anyway.

This is more of a problem in some areas than others. Whilst there are no accurate national statistics, figures I have seen suggest that around 200 offers are withdrawn each year as a result of fraudulent applications. A much higher number of attempted frauds are discovered in time to prevent any offer being made based on the incorrect information given by the parents.

ILoveSalad - You may disagree with the rules but they are what they are. You must give your permanent address when applying for a school place. You may not give someone else's address, an address where you do not live or an address you are renting short term in order to get a place at your preferred school.

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Mon 31-Dec-12 00:34:34

tiggy I understand the council's rules/cut offs, but I don't agree with them - i think they're unfair! And on the basis of them being IMO unfair I don't think the OP should report them.

The OP asked if she should report them. I say no

libelulle Mon 31-Dec-12 01:02:15

How does the council know what homes I own though? It knows where I pay council tax and where I am registered on electoral roll. I guess they can do a land registry search, but I still fail to see how if I genuinely move house, ie rent my own house out, change all bills and official documentation etc and take out a years lease on another property, how the council could a) keep track of the fact i still owned my other house and b) decide that I'd moved for catchment rather than any other legitimate reason, such as financial downsizing, dodgy neighbours or marital disharmony. I'd be interested to know how many withdrawn places were for families doing this kind of wholesale semi-temporary semi-permanent move, as opposed to using a false address or only moving for a couple of months.

libelulle Mon 31-Dec-12 01:13:06

Btw I should stress I have no direct interest here - my dd has a legit out of catchment place at an outstanding school! I just find it bizarre that councils fixates on this one particular way of getting round the system, and that if I don't own a house I could legitimately rent in catchment for a few months then move 30 miles out of catchment, even though the intent and practical effect are precisely identical.

CaHoHoHootz Mon 31-Dec-12 08:30:04

Here is an exert from West Berkshire school admissions brochure. It seems clear the Neighbours are acting fraudulently ..... (My underlining)

It is the child's normal permanent home address where he or she lives with his or her parents/carers that is used to decide in which school's catchment area the child lives. Temporary addresses cannot be used to obtain school places, e.g. temporary addresses whilst retaining a previous permanent home will not be accepted. If parents/carers plan to move, documentary evidence will be required, such as proof of exchange of contracts or a tenancy agreement to confirm residence at the time of admission. If such evidence is received by 1 January during a normal admissions round the new address will be accepted for the forthcoming allocation. Confirmation received after 1 January will not be taken into account until immediately after allocation dates and waiting lists adjusted accordingly. At all other times changes of address will be considered immediately on receipt of evidence. Any child offered a school place based on fraudulent or intentionally misleading information concerning a catchment area permanent home address will have their place withdrawn and a new application will be required, by which time preferred schools may be full. This may also occur after the child has been admitted to a school.

oldpeculiar Mon 31-Dec-12 09:58:00

If you are living at an address, who can possibly say whether it is your permanant address or not ? You may not even know that yourself.
If you are registered wit a GP at an address and have bank statements and utility bills coming to that adress, your current school holds that as your address then you are pretty much home and dry.Do you really think the LEA has funds to carry out extensive investigations?

TheFallenNinja Mon 31-Dec-12 10:00:36

What would this accomplish ?

Seems they are taking measures to give their kids the best. Why on earth would you want to be an obstacle?

prh47bridge Mon 31-Dec-12 10:03:30

ILoveSalad - These are national rules, not ones set by the council. The idea is that places at a school should go to local residents. It is acceptable to buy a house close to a school and live there permanently. It is acceptable to rent a property close to a school provided you move in before the applications deadline and intend to live there permanently. It is not acceptable to rent or buy a property for a few months to get a school place with no intention of living there permanently. Every year I am contacted by parents who have missed out on a place at their local school through the fraudulent actions of others. I see the distress this causes. That is why I would report the people mentioned by the OP.

libelulle - Your LA gets a list of all residential property that changes ownership within their area each month from the Land Registry. They would therefore know that you still owned the original property. As for deciding why you had moved, the LA would have to make a judgement call based on the information available to them (unless it is one of the LAs that takes a hard line and always uses the address of the property you own even if you are genuinely living in rented accommodation). They may get it wrong. I know of cases where LAs have either failed to spot fraudulent applications or have incorrectly adjudged genuine applications to be fraudulent. If people did not make fraudulent applications LAs would not have to make such judgements.

nurseneedshelp Mon 31-Dec-12 10:04:19

Shocked that you're even considering it tbh!

It's none of your business. Leave them to it.

I bet you were all smiles when they were telling you. You're never gonna get neighbour of the year award.

JenaiMorris Mon 31-Dec-12 10:14:23

nurse and ninja - There have been children on my estate (housing, not country!) who have been unable to attend the nearest school a few minutes walk away because people have rented tiny properties nearer the school for a few months, then moved back to their proper homes once they have places for their children at that school.

The next nearest schools are both 3-5 miles away and oversubscribed, so the children whose places have been effectively stolen from them end up at schools not just in different villages, but on the other side of the neighbouring city.

How can you possibly justify that?

tiggytape Mon 31-Dec-12 10:25:18

TheFallenNinja - because the only way they can 'give their kids the best' is to divert a place from another child to their own child instead. New school places aren't created just because more people move into an area. To give their kids the best, another child directly loses out.

LAs have to investigate this issue now. I am sure they'd rather time and money wasn't spent on it but they are legally obliged to make sure schools are allocated to the people that meet the criteria not people who cheat. It is a nationally set duty governed by laws not a bit of local paper shuffling.
The paperwork trails they have are pretty good at spotting cheats and more tip-offs than ever are received now places are short. It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to work out what most cheaters are up to when you can clearly see they still own a house elsewhere, but in grey-area cases, the LAs do more investigations and then make a judgement call.

The misery cheating caused when it was less clamped down upon was huge. Children were split from friends or forced to travel miles out of area because local schools got filled up with people who swooped into the catchment for a few months then moved back out again to their real homes miles away. People lived in dread that their local school would suddenly get an Outstanding from Ofsted because they knew it meant other parents would then want to cheat to get in and they may miss out despite having lived near to what had always in the past been a pretty average school.
Everybody knows places are short and they may not get into a chosen school. People can cope with that even if it is disappointing but knowing another family deliberately set out to take the place from your child is something most people find more upsetting.

circular Mon 31-Dec-12 10:36:57

So what is considered a permanent' address?

This family have rented a property, (I am presuming it is family-home sized) and have their own house on the market to let.
So if they are successful in letting their owned house in time they will be OK?

If they are genuinely unable to let it and have to move back in March for financial reasons, they willl not be OK?

if they do not move back in March, but still have an empty property on the market, what then?

It sounds like their intentions were to stay for at least year (although not sure what a 'reasonable time' is). That may not work out, so would they still have the option to change their application after the closing date? Perhaps, if it is just a change of address, and they have schools in their chices close to their owned house address. But if the distance is too great, their child could be withiut a local school.

No, I would not report them. But hope for their child's sake they have done their research and see things through.

FestiveElement Mon 31-Dec-12 10:52:25

If the LA basically has to make a judgment call, and they do sometimes get that judgement wrong in cases where a family has moved into rented accommodation but has been unable to seel or let the property they own, then that seem to me to be even more unfair than I thought it was.

How can it be right that you can genuinely want to permenantly move but that the council can say they don't believe you? It can't be.

So if the rules set are fundamentally unfair in the first place, how can they expect people to respect them?

I maintain that it is not stealing a place from another child, simply because places do not belong to children before the allocation to be able to take it away from them. If you believe that it is taking a place away from another child, then you are basically saying that one child has more right to their chosen school than another child, and that is simply wrong. They have equal right to the school place most suitable for them.

oldpeculiar Mon 31-Dec-12 10:58:01

But the OP's 'friend' has moved lock stock and barrel into the catchment area! They have a bona-fide case-ie a child in the catchment area! In legal terms how can that child not be entitled to a place? And in moral terms if they were not living in that property then another child probably would be.

tiggytape Mon 31-Dec-12 11:05:44

The LA make a judgement call using the paper trail information but also ask the family involved why they've moved and if they are going to move back home again. LAs don't want to punish people - they just want to sort the applications out in accordance with the rules so they patiently work their way through any doubtful applications to get to truth in each case. In an ideal world, the LA want to intercept any fraudulent application very early on so that they can be ammended and the child offered a decent school near their real home. Catching cheaters late is awful for everyone because all the school places are allocated by that stage.

Rarely the LA may unjustly decide someone is cheating and force parents to appeal but this is very rare. In the vast majority of cases there is no innocent reason for renting a house for 6 months in a good catchment area whilst leaving the other family home empty, not on the market and not rented out.
If a family has a genuine reason for doing this (perhaps extensive fire damage that will take over a year to rebuild and put right) then of course the council will allow it. But if (as in most cases) the truth is the family just want a good school and know they don't live close enough to qualify so decide to rent for a little while to jump the queue, then this won't be allowed.

FestiveElement Mon 31-Dec-12 11:14:35

There are so many reasons that could lead to an incorrect judgement though. What about families where there are marital problems and the couple decide on a temporary separation, or where a parent moves closer to an elderly parent to be able to provide care, or where a family has intended to move permanently but then can't sell their property or find tenants for it, or where they have intended to move permanently , but have had problems with new neighbours, or have suffered because of an unscrupulous landlord?

It seems unfair to put those families through an extensive investigation, when they have no solid way of proving their case, when all they are doing is applying for a school place as they are required to be law.

prh47bridge Mon 31-Dec-12 12:44:45

Either the LA investigates and makes judgement calls or you have a free for all where the better off can deprive local residents of school places using short term rentals. Is that really what you want? If parents did not make fraudulent applications we would not have this problem.

You would be surprised how many families develop marital problems and separate just before the admissions round only to sort it all out and reunite as soon as their child has a place at the popular school they wanted. Moving close to (or even in with) an elderly parent to provide care is another popular ruse.

Yes, some moves are genuine. But experience suggests that the vast majority of parents who move into rented accommodation close to a popular school just before the admissions round are doing so in an attempt to defraud the system. And experience also suggests that the number of families incorrectly penalised by LAs is vanishingly small.

oldpeculiar Mon 31-Dec-12 12:59:13

There shouldn't be any room for judgment calls.
I have read the school admissions code and it seems to me to read that the admissions criteria needs to be in black and white not decided subjectively by some non-elected officer.
I wonder whether 'intentions' would stand up in court.Either the child is living in-area or they aren't.

libelulle Mon 31-Dec-12 13:07:07

"the better off can deprive local residents of school places" - That's a gross caricature, surely. On the whole it's likely to be the better off who ARE the local residents, ie those wealthy enough to buy in catchment in the first place! I find it hard to get worked up about parents playing the system in one particular 'disallowed' way rather than the many 'allowed' ways which are just as unfair. The whole system is based on wealth right now, and needs root and branch reform.

mumwithtwokids Mon 31-Dec-12 13:11:31

Not sure how they can be renting from December to March as secondary school applications had to be submitted in October confused so surely they must have registered with their real address. If this is the case then surely they will be able to see that they moved for a grand total of three months.

mumwithtwokids Mon 31-Dec-12 13:29:35

libelulle - It doesn't matter how many houses you own, the council will know they belong to you. You will still need to pay council tax for 6 months of the year even if vacant and you will also need to confirm to the council who your tenants are if you are renting it out.

Also to those of you who think they are doing nothing wrong then please explain that to those parents who come offers day had no school place for their child despite living within catchment. We all want the best for our kids but it should never be at the expense of others.

prh47bridge Mon 31-Dec-12 13:31:50

oldpeculiar - The admission criteria are in black and white. Judgement calls are required within the admission process for a number of reasons - to determine whether or not a child qualifies for special medical or social need, for example. I repeat, the requirement is to give the child's genuine permanent address when applying for a school place. Renting short term and using that to gain entry to a popular school is against the rules. Yes, "intentions" would stand up in court. "Intentions" are important in a wide range of cases, both criminal and civil.

libelulle - It is true that house values around popular schools tend to go up. But, as Tiggytape has pointed out several times, those who make fraudulent applications using rented accommodation do so at the expense of less well off families living on the edge of the catchment area. If we go down your path and allow anyone to rent in order to get into popular schools there will be several effects:

- house prices near the school will not go up as there will be no need to live near the school to get a place

- the better off will rent properties near the school to gain admission

- landlords with property near the school will jack rents up sky high for the admissions round

- less well off local residents will be excluded

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Mon 31-Dec-12 13:37:56

"On the whole it's likely to be the better off who ARE the local residents, ie those wealthy enough to buy in catchment in the first place!"

exactly, the ones that have to rent their way in or stay at grandparent's are the less well off - the victims of the system that allows the better off to choose to live permanently in better catchments

Being a good catchment raises house prices way above average so its very hard to "buy in"

Its not gonna be lots of fun renting temporarily is it? I'm sure most pople would rather buy in a preferred catchment in the first place but can't!

prh47bridge Mon 31-Dec-12 13:38:18

oldpeculiar - On the "intention" point, an example for you. The Theft Act 1968 S1(1) states, "A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it". The court therefore has to judge the intention of the accused. In most cases, of course, the intention is obvious. Where it is not the jury has to decide based on the evidence presented.

libelulle Mon 31-Dec-12 13:38:49

Yes but as I also pointed out, outside London you do not get 'less well off families living on the edge of the catchment area' - you just get well off catchments and less well off ones.

As for your first effect ('house prices near the school will not go up'), that one sounds pretty good to me! Number two is surely just a variation on what happens now, which is that the better off BUY properties near the school to gain admission.

I'm not saying that playing the system is pretty - I wish it didn't happen. But I'm saying that the system as it stands excludes less well off residents already. Wealthy residents playing the system in ANY way is unfair, so why focus your moral outrage on one particular manifestation of it? IMO there's a good argument for saying that if 'local' schooling becomes a way of ghettoising by wealth, then we should get rid of it. Many kids already have to travel vast distances because there aren't enough places, so let's equalise the system and use a lottery. Brighton have considered this already if I recall correctly.

VestaCurry Mon 31-Dec-12 13:45:25

Some schools now demand proof of residency in catchment for eg a minimum of 18 months.

prh47bridge Mon 31-Dec-12 13:48:50

Individual schools can use a lottery but the rules currently forbid an LA from using a lottery for all its schools on the basis that it means parents have no idea of their chances of getting in to any of their preferred schools.

I see the heartbreak caused to less well off families both inside and outside London by people breaking the rules. In my experience less well off families living on the edge of the catchment area being deprived is more common outside London where catchment areas tend to be larger.

I am not entirely happy about house prices going up near good schools but at least the people buying these houses generally intend to live there permanently and become part of the local community. Those renting have no intention of staying in the area and becoming part of the community. They simply want to deprive a member of the community of a school place that is rightfully theirs.

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Mon 31-Dec-12 13:56:52

"Those renting have no intention of staying in the area and becoming part of the community."

surely if they're sending their kids to the school they will be part of the community, whatever address they end up at by next year?

Its the BUYERS that shrink "real" catchment's round here, in one school, people living at the top of the road that the school is on within official catchment are out of proximity because every single house down the bottom of the road beside the school has been BOUGHT by people who moved there just for the school. Noone who's actually from that area can afford to buy down the bottom of that road (rent there temporarily? maybe?) because you can't sell your home up the top of the road for enough to make up the gap!

tiggytape Mon 31-Dec-12 14:06:13

libelulle - People who cheat are still few and far between.
Most people are not playing the system and even wealthier people aren't always savvy or lucky enough to buy in catchment years in advance even though they could afford to. For one thing schools change over time - so a good school in 2010 could be dire by 2012 and vice versa.
Also most people have no inkling how hard it is to get a school place until they come to apply (most assume living within a mile or so will be fine and find out far too late that even 700m isn't close enough in their year group) so not as many as you expect are manoeuvring years in advance.

The people who miss out to cheaters aren't sharp elbowed richer people who've reserved their space at a good school years in advance by throwing money at a particular house. Mainly they are just normal parents hoping for a local school and with no idea that anyone else would go to the trouble or expense of such a massive cheat as to uproot their family and rent a second home.

A lottery system has great appeal for many. It eliminates any benefit to cheaters for a start as they have equal chance no matter where they live. It also stops house price nonsense over catchment areas.
But is causes its own problems: if your child is the only one in the class not to get picked for the school everyone else is going to, it can be very upsetting.
Ditto splitting up siblings.
It can lead to more children having an awful school journey instead of just some of them - when children living literally next-door to one school are forced to attend another.
And oddly enough - all the studies on Brighton (the first area to have a lottery for the whole local area) showed it slightly lessened the chances of poorer children winning places at the most popular schools - that might just have been bad luck in the 2 years studied though but it was deemed shocking at the time that it had made things worse not better.

libelulle Mon 31-Dec-12 14:08:52

Well, we're on the edge of our catchment but we're reasonably well off - just not well off enough to live in the next door catchment! If we did rent a place there temporarily, we'd still not be as well off as those who can 'legitimately' buy a house there whether in central catchment or on the edge. We're lucky enough to have a got a place there anyway, though of course DD's younger sibling(s) may not be so lucky. Most years we would not get a catchment place at our local school either as we are not religious and live on the edge of the catchment.

The scandal to me is the system as it stands. People play the system because it is unfair. It pits school against school, atheist against religious families
and wealthy ones against less wealthy ones. Councils are providing insufficient school places for a growing population. School places were not an issue a generation ago, it should be within the power of government to make it so again. If there's a call to arms, there it is - not wealthy family a and slightly less wealthy family b playing the system whether within the rules or not.

JenaiMorris Mon 31-Dec-12 14:08:57

ime the parachutists don't really become part of the community, no. Once they move back out, they clog up the streets with their abysmal parking (all the school run clichés apply) and get in a piss if the local teens dare to use the skate ramp when their children wanted to run up and down it (there's a perfectly well equipped, super really for the size, play park alongside).

Yes, I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder about this grin

prh47bridge Mon 31-Dec-12 14:09:29

I disagree.

Whilst I was trying to get my youngest into our local primary school we had to send him to another school in the next town. He was part of the school and we were part of the school community but we are not part of the local community for that school, nor would we be even if he was still going to that school. Indeed, as we were not part of the local community we were outsiders within the school community, if you see what I mean.

My oldest son is now going to secondary school. Again, it is some distance from our home for reasons I won't explain here (but it doesn't involve renting!). We are part of the school community but we are not part of the local community around that school nor will we ever be.

prh47bridge Mon 31-Dec-12 14:12:39

Sorry - I was disagreeing with ILoveSalad in case that wasn't obvious!

Agree completely with Tiggytape.

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Mon 31-Dec-12 14:14:55

libelulle I agree, the "enemy" is councils that see schools where edge of catchment is outside of proximity and do nothing about providing more school spaces there, just go on a witch hunt investigating everyone's paperwork instead!

JenaiMorris Mon 31-Dec-12 14:50:07

Doing away with sibling priority helped here, so that it was no longer enough to move here for a few months if you wanted all your children to attend the school.

Siblings within the parish still get priority, but those outside with an alternative school nearer by don't.

losingtrust Mon 31-Dec-12 15:40:35

I am on the fence on this one and would not report. Having lived in an lea where the council believed in social engineering making my local school out of reach for my ds even though it was a short walk away I had to move to an area where I knew dc's would get in to local school and in the meantime had to use a faith school (was already practicing). It made me always check that wherever I was buying was in catchment and was a decent school although as mentioned above this can change. To be honest if you have parents going to so much effort to get their child in, you would imagine they would lend their support and be good for the school. As many have said it is difficult to sell now and you may be stuck. It may be morally wrong but so in the same case is selling and moving just before the admissions. Yes it may be they need to drive but so do the vast majority of working families who work outside the school area. We are no longer a nation where mothers (typically) have the time to walk their kids to school.

DontmindifIdo Mon 31-Dec-12 16:36:08

thing with the lottery system, it's impractical, not everyone can drive, many chose to live relatively close to schools/public transport so they can walk to them, the lottery system assumes all parents are able to and are prepared to trapse across town to their DCs schools even if they live walking distance to one they'd be prepared to use. While 'sharp elbowed cheats' might be prepared to deal with the logistics of having moved back to their original house and have to drive their DCs to school, it doesn't mean everyone thinks having all the children in an area having to be driven/put on buses every day and noone being walking distance to school is a good idea. (quite frankly it's rubbish idea if you care about the environment at all)

Scrapping sibling places is a good policy - I know several people who aren't cheating as such, but have pre-schoolers, do want more space, can't afford it near the school of their choice so are planning on coping in a small place close to the school, until the eldest gets into it and then will move further away (as round us prices do reflect the closeness to a good school, so you can get an extra bedroom for the same money 1/2 mile away).

teacherwith2kids Mon 31-Dec-12 17:28:04

I would pass the information on to the council, for them to do as they see fit.

So not 'I am reporting this family because they are applying for a school place fraudulently', but 'I observe that my neighbours Mr and Mrs A of B address have moved in on X date. They have stated that their intention is to move out on Y date once school places have been allocated. They also own another house in Z area.'

We live on the very edge of the admissions area of a very popular school. Cracking down, in a very high-profile and well-publicised way, on those trying to obtain places fraudulently, as well as moving to admissions rules that penalise abuse of the sibling rule (by removing priority for siblings if the family has moved out of the wider catchment) has resulted in an oversupply of places, for the first time in many years - so that in fact all reasonably local children, even beyond the catchment area, have been able to gain places ...

mumwithtwokids Mon 31-Dec-12 18:58:41

To be honest if you have parents going to so much effort to get their child in, you would imagine they would lend their support and be good for the school.

I really don't know what to make of this comment confused

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