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Rules about fraudulent address in school admissions.

(49 Posts)
Phenikz Mon 18-Apr-11 11:56:19

We are in a close knit rural area. We didn't get a place at our local catchment area school because some parents from outside the catchment area moved out of their "substantial" family homes into dilapidated flats next door to the school... We are 0.6 miles from the school but didn't get a place because of distance. Last year children were admitted from a distance of up to 1.54 miles. So now what? Everybody rush into those flats? If I new I would move too grin

Could anyone advise what is the law, the rules and any precedents, which could help to decide, and eventually demonstrate, whether those parents should not be offered the place because their real residence is outside the catchment area?

prh47bridge Mon 18-Apr-11 12:05:27

The rules are that the address used for applying to the school must be genuine. If, for example, parents rent a flat and use that address on their application whilst continuing to live elsewhere that would be fraudulent and any offer can be withdrawn. However, if they sell their house elsewhere to move into a flat near the school then move away again once they've got a place that is probably ok.

If you suspect that parents have applied fraudulently you should notify the LA. It is up to them to investigate and, if necessary, withdraw any offers that have been made.

mrz Mon 18-Apr-11 12:05:38

We had a parent move her 6 children into a ONE bedroom flat on the school's doorstep but as they actually lived there it was perfectly legal.

Phenikz Mon 18-Apr-11 12:12:42

Those parents are genuinely living in the flats, but they didn't sell their house which is 300 metres away, so its a bit of a grey area.
Does anyone know which law or relulation is relevant. I would like to read what the law says and does not say..

LondonMother Mon 18-Apr-11 12:16:45

It's a despicable thing to do, whether within the rules or not. I remember a few years ago friends talking about moving out of London to a small village. They had decided to rent first while they got to know the place and contacted the school to find out how close they would need to live to get a place in the village school. The school administrator offered to rent them a house he owned which was practically next door to the school! I hope this is an unusual occurrence.

Phenikz Mon 18-Apr-11 12:21:16

"Which law and regulation" of course. Sorry for punctuation blush

mrz Mon 18-Apr-11 12:24:38

Phenikz Mon 18-Apr-11 12:28:16

Yes, when admission distance becomes so tiny, there is a price surge as everybody races to be closest to the school. Selling prices became stratospheric and and incidentally the rent in those flats suddenly went up by £500, so it is now as much as for a 4 bedroom house...

nowtundercontrol Mon 18-Apr-11 12:35:18

Notts LA appear to allow people to move in e.g. put nice house out of catchment up for sale at ridiculously high price so that it will never sell, move in to smaller in-catchment property, get school place and move out again but that's not actually fraudulent.

However, admission docs state that you should still be at the rented property when the child starts school and that definitely hasn't been the case in the case in the past.

On day one of school - or the admin day the day before - time should be set aside for parents to bring in documents of less than one month in date showing that they have paid council tax and rent for the address used to get the school place and for the school office to check the documents.

Phenikz Mon 18-Apr-11 12:57:14

Thank you mrz, for this link!
The text is actually vague about what constitutes fraud... Does anyone know how the law defines what is their residence if they own one home and rent another?

For info the regulation states this:

Withdrawing offers of places
1.50 Once an offer of a school place has been made it is only reasonable for an admission authority to withdraw that offer in very limited circumstances. These may include when a parent has failed to respond to an offer within a reasonable time or the admission authority offered the place on the basis of a fraudulent or intentionally misleading application from a parent (for example, a false claim to residence in a catchment area) which effectively denied a place to another child; or where a place was offered under co-ordination by the local authority, not the admission authority, in error. If a parent has not responded to the offer of a place within a reasonable time, the admission authority must remind the parent of the need to respond within a further seven days and point out that the place may be withdrawn if they do not.

mrz Mon 18-Apr-11 13:00:30

I think you need to check individual LEA policy as they can vary.

Phenikz Mon 18-Apr-11 13:09:09

Does SSFA 1998 stipulate anything about the residence / address?

prh47bridge Mon 18-Apr-11 13:51:56

No it doesn't.

The rule is that the parents must give the address at which the child normally lives at the time the application is made. If they are genuinely living at the flat they are in the clear. If they are only using it to get into the school they are not. At the end of the day it is up to the LA to decide.

As I said previously, if you think parents may have applied fraudulently you should report the matter to the LA and let them sort it out.

corygal Mon 18-Apr-11 14:22:35

It's not against the law to move house to get into a school - even temporarily, which seems to be the point here. I know some people who moved from a leafy terrace to a firehazard flat at thousands a week to get their kids into a decent school - for seven months.

Interestingly, the school did insist on a 'home visit' just before term started, which was obviously to check that this professional family did actually live in the dump. The parents had to delay the move home by a month.

Phenikz Mon 18-Apr-11 14:34:09

Thank you all for supportive comments and good ideas I will contact the LA about this.

I feel like a petty idiot, but it is my son that got a place at an exeptionally failing dreadful school in special measures which is even not our catchment. sad

dikkertjedap Mon 18-Apr-11 14:45:04

I think it is very unclear what constitutes 'residence' until somebody brings a test case and a judge comes with a judgment. For a while we rented a house in London whilst trying to let our own house in a rural area.
We considered the flat in London our primary residence as we lived there full-time and had London GP etc. however when we applied for council tax reduction for our empty property in rural area as it was a de facto second home it was refused. The local council argued that as we owned the other home we could always go there whereas the rental property depended whether the landlord was letting it to us or not. We thought it a very flawed way of reasoning as we can only go to our rural property if we keep up with the mortgage ... however was way to expensive to take the local council to court. A long way of saying that the law is unclear on what constitutes 'residence' - I think it is in practice interpreted to suit the local government ...

GiddyPickle Mon 18-Apr-11 14:58:20

In our area people can move to get a good school but it isn't as easy as renting a flat and camping in it for the duration of applications and being there for a possible home visit. It has to be your permanent address so as well as living there you have to be able to show that your child benefit is paid to that address (and therefore bank details match) and even that the DVLA has this as your fixed address (for driving licence and registered address of car) if asked (you are normally only asked this if there is a question mark over the honesty of your application).

So if you want to, you can rent a flat and move in and change all your bank and personal paperwork over to the rented address and stay there for the best part of a year whilst keeping hold of your "real home" to move back to once your eldest child has a foot in the door of the decent school. But in reality, it is a huge hassle and expense that few people would actually consider.

And it is still risky especially when admissions criteria can change with under 5 months notice as recently happend here so that siblings nolonger get an automatic place if the family move out of catchment or if the catchment area shifts to suddenly include a town or an estate that is further away but suddenly gets priority due to having no local school of its own.

GiddyPickle Mon 18-Apr-11 15:06:43

Phenikz - You'd hope the LEA would do a bit of digging if the catchment area suddenly shrank by a mile in one year anyway (assuming they haven't built new homes nearby).

I think it is very unfair if these parents have done this but IF they have then they should have all their details checked and double checked by the LEA to make sure they have complied totally. They may have "cheated" properly by doing a genuine move and just keeping the old house ticking over in which case there's not a lot that can be don. But if they are literally living out of suitcases in a rented flat for a year and haven't notified the DVLA, the Dr, the bank, the benefits agency, the insurance company etc of this move to the rented address then (I think) there is a case to be made that this isn't their genuine primary address.

bibbitybobbityhat Mon 18-Apr-11 15:15:43

I am thinking about doing this. I live a couple of minutes walk away from the border of the catchment area concerned and wouldn't feel the slightest amount of guilt if my child did then get in to the school. She should be going there anyway. It is our closest secondary school.Children who live further away on my street do go there - but catchments change from year to year. She should be going there anyway. It is our closest secondary school. The school has a poor reputation for checking that applications are genuine.

GiddyPickle Mon 18-Apr-11 15:28:40

bibbitybobbityhat - if catchments change year to year then I guess you are thinking of moving from the "maybe" area to the "definite" area. That's fine as long as you do it properly (ie actually live in the rented place fulltime and change your address on everything). Otherwise you could rent the flat and submit the application only to get the place withdrawn if someone makes a complaint against you (the school may not check applications carefully but if one of your neighbour's children loses out on a place and decides to complain about you then they will do a proper check and they can take away your place even after your DD has started there if they think it's not genuine).

I also think moving back to the area having got your place might be hard on you and your DD especially if neighbour's children don't get school places and there is ill feeling about it locally. I guess it depends if nayone living near you is likely to miss out on this school and be upset or if anyone is likely to hear about it and report you.

I am not getting all moral about whether or not you should do it but just saying it's not as simple as renting a flat and hoping they don't do loads of checks. It can still come back to bite you after term has started if it's not a genuine move.

bibbitybobbityhat Mon 18-Apr-11 15:31:18

No, I would genuinely move for a year. As I have said children from my road do go to the school and children she has been at primary with will go to the school. I shan't feel guilty about it, not at all.

Lester2014 Thu 05-Feb-15 11:01:37

So I need some advice. I applied to a school from an address out of the local catchment as I was in the process of buying a place right near the school. I purchased my new place just as places were being allocated and I was given a place. I've lived there for three years now right on the doorstep to the school and now need more space. I kept my old place. Can I move back to the old place? Is there a rule or a law that applies? I have physically lived on the doorstep for three years. Surely I'm entitled to do as I please now? Any advice appreciated.

RustyBear Thu 05-Feb-15 12:53:29

Lester - I suggest you start your own new thread, as most people who open this will look at and answer the original post, not yours.

admission Thu 05-Feb-15 15:32:52

Once you have a place at the school,based on a correct address, then there is nothing to stop you moving anywhere. Obviously moving after 3 months will create a few questions, but 3 years will not.
The issue comes if you have more than one child as the address to be used will be the new address and they may well not get allocated a place at the same school.
The other point to bear in mind is whether your future preferred secondary school has an admission criteria which gives rise to a catchment area, again moving may disadvantage you.

Somemumsodd Thu 05-Feb-15 15:37:56

I would collate all the details. Send to LA ask them to investigate - then leave them to do it.

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