fraudulent addresses(13 Posts)
My DD RC school has a history of people using fraudulent addresses. This year many siblings did not get in as the school prioritises distance and not siblings. I am likely to be in this situation next year as DD2 unlikely to get in.
The school asked people to provide child benefit letters as proof of address -not the best form of proof and as such some people were able to get their letters changed to include the fraudulent address and retain their place (most used family members.). My worry is if this happens next year and the people don't get caught straight away can the school let them stay? Currently there are siblings who didn't get into school this year despite rumours of 2 fraudulent applicants who have started reception . Surely if names are given the school has to remove the children, even after term has started otherwise it doesn't seem fair.
Just want reassurance really - with all the talk round school of fraudulent applicants i'm worried that people will get away with it once they get to Sept - there must be a law surely if you have genuine people on the waiting list - even though the fraudulent child will be disrupted?
At my DC's school you have to show a utility bill as proof of address before a school place offer was confirmed, possibly harder to to fake than child benefit letter. Have you had a world with LEA to find out what the official line on address verification is? Then you could check with the school that it is being followed. Also I would report anyone in an instant if their fraud had deprived my DC of a legitimate school place.
i have complained to the school and the LEA that the form of proof is insufficient but they argue its more than most schools in the area - no schools in my area (lancashire) ask for proof of address at all - at no stage! This school only asked this time - weeks after the places were given out because of rumours of fraud! the LEA says it doesnt have time to check all individuals- only those with names of suspected people. The school has a history of people but both them and the school won't ask for additional proof - it seams so unfair!
Unlike some LAs Lancashire don't ask for proof of address at the time of application but they can request utility bills, check council tax records and the electoral roll, make home visits and so on if they believe the address given may be incorrect.
If it finds that the places were obtained fraudulently the school is entitled to withdraw the offers even after the children concerned have started school. There is nothing that says they have to do this. However, if they do not and your child is deprived of a place you could appeal and argue that you would have got a place if they had administered admissions correctly. If they do not investigate allegations of fraud properly you could also use that as the basis of an appeal and see if the independent appeal panel think the school's approach is adequate.
I'm guessing it is too late to get them to change their selection criteria, may still be worth it so siblings left out will go to top of waiting list. It is unusual here for siblings not to get priority. Being a RC school they could stipulate church attendance, siblings then distance surely, then it ensures people didn't just go for 6 months before first child applied, but at the same time supports family life. We have to bring one item of id for child - child benefit, dr's registration or hospital letter plus 2 id for us - utility bill, bank statement etc from past 3 months. Not sure if that is Kent wide.
It is definitely too late to change admission criteria for 2012 admissions.
I am intrigued to know which school we are talking about. I live in Lancashire and the RC schools around here seem to make siblings a high priority. For non-Catholics they seem to come ahead of all other non-Catholics except looked after children. For Catholics they are behind looked after Catholic children and children living within certain parishes. I suppose it is possible a school could fill up with children from those parishes but I would have thought that was pretty unusual.
the school say they are looking to change the policy for 2013 entry but its too late for this year. the policy says:
-catholics in care
-catholics in parish by distance
-non-parish catholic siblings
-non parish catholics etc
PRH - this has only happened this year as this is the first year Lancashire started the 3 choice preference system - last year we applied for only one school and if you didnt get it the LEA gave you your next nearest school. I expect previously not all catholics put this particular school as their first choice (especially if living on the outskirts) and so if unsucessful got other schools nearby whereas now they qualify for the catholic one under the 3 choice system.
So this year the school was full with parish applicants - this is where there is risk of fraud as anyone who says they live in the parish jumps ahead of non-parish siblings. I spoke to the LEA today and they said its up to the school what checks they do on the wider scale - they will investigate specific individuals but only if named. I explained the school was sticking with the child benefit letter and the LEA said then there's nothing more i can do. They also said they would be unlikely to withdraw a fraudulent child after starting at the school - i find this most disturbing - that siblings can be separated -at a cost financially as well as emotionally to parents, yet the fraudulent applicant gets to stay - outrageous imo!
church attendance/ parish involvement etc has no baring on admissions to this school unfortunately - as long as you are baptised you are all treated equally.
The school is clearly going to have problems if they are not careful. Whilst their criteria is not illegal it would certainly not be considered best practice in not giving catholic in parish siblings priority. Secondly by only wanting child benefit books as proof they are ignoring most normal precautions such as utility bills and the electoral register which may comeback to bite them if somebody goes to appeal and can show that they have made specific complaints about successful applicants over fraudulent applications.
By far the easiest way of confirming addresses is to go pay a visit at 1800, if the child is not there then its a reasonable guess that there could be a fiddle going on and further investigations are necessary.
I would be very surprised given that the OP states that all of the successful applicants are catholic in parish if the school / church did not know who if any was fiddling and yes in my opinion any child who has got in fraudulently should be removed now, because the school needs to set an example to stop this becoming a nightmare next year.
LAs were not required to allow parents to name more than one preference for primary school prior to applications for admission in September this year so Lancashire have obeyed the regulations.
As this is an RC school it would be up to the school to decide whether or not to withdraw a place, so it really doesn't matter what Lancashire CC would do.
If your child is not admitted due to fraudulent applications you can appeal and see if the appeal panel agrees that the school's approach to investigating possible fraud is adequate. Also, if the school uncovers evidence of fraud but fails to remove the place you can appeal and argue that the school's decision is unreasonable. That doesn't mean an appeal panel would agree but you could give it a try.
Thanks for the advice! - i know i'm worrying ahead - but looking at pre-school numbers and general observations it does look very oversubscribed for next year. My main concern is that i won't know if there is fraud unless i uncover something. So DD2 could lose out and theres nothing i can do unless the rumor mill goes into overdrive again. I do not mind catchment catholics having priority - i understand that its fair as i took that risk when applying out of catchment and i really wouldn't be half as worried if i was confident the process was fair but I have little faith in it. In addition the head has told me the current siblings who didnt get in are on a waiting list which is changing all the time as non catholics in catchment get their kids baptised etc and move up. This worries me further as places which may free up later will not go to the people who were disadvantaged at the time iyswim!!!! I suppose its best to just keep a close ear round school and hope for the best.
Many thanks again
At least now you have 3 choices. So whatever the LEA does at least from your side put as choice 2 and 3 your nearest schools so you are covered either way!!
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