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Graveney - Renting in catchment for admissions purposes

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

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

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

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and wrongs of it - I only want to ask the very specific question: Do "renters" get caught and are places actually withdrawn?

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

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

gazzalw Fri 08-Jun-12 10:18:29

No I don't know anyone who has been shopped but it's a highly emotive issue as you can see from this thread. I do have to say that if our DS had missed out on a place because of this type of educational 'gazumping' and I knew about it I would be tempted to 'shop' the family.

Mind you it's not really any different from going to church to get one's children into the best church school in the area....

Some people do play by the rules - our DS initially missed out on his preferred choice school because other children lived closer even though they'd all scored the same in their 11+ - you just have to accept it. He did get his place after a short wait!

At the end of the day I feel your pain. We were lucky with DS that he is bright and we knew we had the option to consider selective schools - and he got in to one. It might be a different story for his younger sister who is not currently looking so academic. I know that we would have been a lot less comfortable about where we live if we'd had to consider the local comps as some of our six CAF options.

I would suggest you consider moving...but other posters are right about Graveney. We went to open days two years in a row and I got the decided feeling from the parents that the focus is on the brighter two streams and not the other two.

The Michaela Academy looked as if it would be an attractive (and local) alternative to Graveney but nothing has been heard about it since they failed to secure the site they were after....

FrankWippery Fri 08-Jun-12 10:37:41

Stockwell I do know of quite a few people who have been shopped and either not made the first post, or had their place removed fairly swiftly after the offers went out. My three older children are 18, 17 and 15 and between them have a lot of friends at Graveney - mine aren't there though. I also know a lot of other children there from Y7 up (mostly siblings of my children's friends). I am currently looking at Graveney as a Sixth Form option for my DS for next September too, though I believe this easier at that stage. Bloody hope so anyway!

I also agree with PPs that, while it is an excellent school, they do seem to focus more on those in the top couple or three streams. I do totally get where you're coming from, but at the same time I am extremely uncomfortable with the knowledge that people will deliberately move to an area with the specific knowledge that they will not stay there once their child(ren) have got their places at a particular school.

Wandsworth are most certainly changing their admissions criteria and when I can find the wretched (and enormous) book I've received, I will post the relevant bit on here for you. I am approaching the horrendous job of finding a primary school for my youngest DD for next September. My older three went to Honeywell which is a fantastic school, however I almost literally need to live on one of the building's chimneys to guarantee a place grin. My two nearest primary schools are, frankly, crap. I don't go to church and nor am I about to start, so the faith schools on my doorstep are also out. I am dreading it...

As an extra point, I would have a look at Bolingbroke too. I have 9 friends whose children will be starting there this September and they are all really positive about it. By the time my DD3 is ready for Year 7, the school will have been running with all years for a couple of years, and it is certainly one that is at the top of my future lists for her.

BeingFluffy Fri 08-Jun-12 10:41:17

I know someone who teaches there - they are apparently going to give teachers' kids priority over the distance criteria applicants from next year. Her kids are still quite young so she hasn't decided whether to send them there. She does say that the top streams get more attention than those at the bottom but that is the case with my DD's comp as well.

If you have a look at the new admissions criteria on their website it does say something about reserving the right to check applicants addresses against the electoral roll and the address held by the primary school. Perhaps as an academy they no longer have free access to the council tax registers? Just speculation - also don't know if they mean the public electoral roll or the one held by the council which includes those not publically visible - but it seems to be a heads up that they are checking.

StockwellLiving Fri 08-Jun-12 10:49:14

Frank - Thanks. People in my area do it and get in and not had places withdrawn (so interesting to hear about places actually being withdrawn). Why are some people then caught and not others?

Bolingbroke is a non-starter unless you go to one of the "feeder" schools .....

gazzal2 - Thanks. Yes, I understand that. If I missed out I'd shop someone too....

BeingFluffy - there was a thread a while back as to whether teachers' DCs taking priority would make that much of a difference (given the size of the school and the number of teachers likely to have age 11 children each year). I can't find it now, but think the consensus was it wouldn't make much difference.

tiggytape Fri 08-Jun-12 11:02:28

Children who are adopted will also get priority from next year. Previosuly it was just looked after children but now it will also include children adopted at any age. The numbers involved aren't likely to be high but it means adopted children from any distance now get priority and in London lots of people will travel. As of next year, the 1st priority after the test will be:
"(i)Children Looked After or children who were looked after, but ceased to be so because they were adopted (or became subject to a residence order or special guardianship order)"

The teacher priority will probably have more of an effect in years to come when teachers start to take jobs based on favourable admission arrangements in good schools. It is unlikely to have much immediate effect because it has been introduced on quite short notice so anyone with an 11 year old is too late to move.
But it could mean in future years teachers only stay at the good schools long enough to get their older child in and then are free to move job and rely on sibling policy for all younger children. Therefore instead of X number of staff = X number of potential applicants, the numbers could balloon as staff leave and new staff take their role (and their admission priviledges).

gazzalw Fri 08-Jun-12 11:05:05

Sorry I sound really harsh and I don't mean to be, but I think that there is so much angst in London, particularly about securing a good secondary school place for one's child, that people will behave in a manner that doesn't really fit their normal behaviour patterns!

Have you considered somewhere like Greycoats in Victoria - for girls? Isn't that supposed to be good?

FrankWippery Fri 08-Jun-12 11:07:20

Luck of the draw I guess. I really don't know.

Actually 5 of the children I know who are going to Bolingbroke are not from any of the feeder schools. Three are from preps around Wandsworth/Clapham, one is from a Tooting Bec primary and the other is at a Balham primary. All were offered places at the first doling out time.

Certainly from my older DDs years, between 50 and 60% of their classmates went into the independent sector at Year 7. I know this unusual and I'm not entirely sure what the case is now from Honeywell, but I do wonder.

I also know a few teachers at Graveney. Some have their kids at the school, some don't. But they're all older children so I think they would have gone through the 'normal' admissions channels back then.

FrankWippery Fri 08-Jun-12 11:08:16

Oh - and yy to Greycoats - excellent school.

gazzalw Fri 08-Jun-12 11:23:47

You could try for Bolingbroke - it's quite possible that until it has really made a name for itself there will be more flexibility in terms of admissions and therefore getting a place! Nothing ventured nothing gained!

good to hear that Greycoats is still a good school.

I wouldn't fall into the trap of thinking that Graveney is the be all and end all.

What is your daughter interested in as other options might suit? Is she arty/into performing arts/musical

As I've said the comps in Sutton are generally well-regarded

Think you need to think creatively and if at all possible think in a way that is not going to land you in deep water....

ElizabethSwann Fri 08-Jun-12 11:32:59

Gosh the horror of having your child mixing with a child like mine ( council estate).

Good to see that he is already condemned before adulthood as a "to be avoided" type courtesy of his address.

Isn't life (and utter snobbery) grand?

That's my volley - hope you ducked! Please don't necessarily condemn us all based on where we live.

twoterrors Fri 08-Jun-12 11:35:58

The OP is talking about moving her permanent address, albeit for a short time.

So if she said she was moving for 3 years or thereabouts, or even moved intending to stay but then needed to move again to be closer to work, there would be no problem? If so, what is an acceptable length of time to have in mind when you move? And doesn't that standard rather favour people who don't plan ahead and move a lot, because they can say honestly that when they move in they plan to stay? A lot of people rent very close by, get their first child in, then move just slightly further away for a bigger house (well within what could be seen as the school's local community and natural catchment) - where does that score on this scale of wrongdoing?

Surely the only real standard should be whether you fill in the form accurately and truthfully. Not what is in your head at the time you fill it in.

(my heard agrees with all the contributing to community, having local friends stuff, as I am sure the OP's does - I just don't see how anything is relevant really other than whether you tell the truth on the CAF - the OP is being very honest about what is in her head, others may not be, or may not think so clearly).

As to how long you have to stay to make it count, I think you will know what when the times comes, but it could be more than a year. Or you might decide to stay anyway!

TantrumsAndBalloons Fri 08-Jun-12 12:08:18

The op is talking about renting for a year and then going back to her home.

So that's not permanent is it.

elizabethswann same as my DCs, god forbid any middle class children should mix with my council estate dwelling working class children....oh wait,but they do, at their selective schools, which they got into with zero tutoring and no lying about where we live.

I guess we must have slipped through the cracks, funny how they are doing so well despite their terrible start in life.

I'm sure your dc just like the majority of estate living DCs is a wonderful child and all the better for not been bought up thinking people are beneath him and he should do everything in his power to avoid a certain class of people.

tiggytape Fri 08-Jun-12 12:15:58

twoterrors - The OP is talking about moving her permanent address, albeit for a short time.

That is a contradiction in terms. It is not a permanent home if you keep your old house and don't sell it. The definition of "permanent" isn't just about time frames.

A permanent home is where you live with the intention of either staying or moving if you do move oneday, moving to a new house altogether. Having your old home (your real home) in reserve to return to, by definition, makes any time you stay in a rented house only temporary.

And this is the purpose of electoral role and council tax checks when they are applied. If you rent a new house and don't sell your old house at just the time school applications are due then the council can refuse to accept this rented address as your permanent home.
You might have special circumstances to explain the reason for doing this (eg your family house has been condemned as unfit for habitation and you've had to move out for a year while the damage is repaired) in which case you'd have to prove all this to the council for them to accept it as your proper address.

BUT if you basically hang on to your family home and rent a new one for a year or so, the rented house never becomes your permanent home because you still have the old one to go back to. Councils don't need to prove you are in the wrong when they refuse your application on these grounds. The burden of proof is on you to show your rented home is your real one and that you have good reason for still owning your old 'out of catchment' house too. That of course assumes the council finds out about your real house which is the risk that anyone takes when they do this.

In short - there is no legitimate way to rent a house just for school places. Some people do it and get away with it. Others do it and get caught. It is always against admission rules so it is always a risk but in some areas it is less risky than others purely because less checks are made.

gazzalw Fri 08-Jun-12 12:44:54

Er I don't think this is a class issue per se.... plenty of good people live on council estates just as plenty of not very nice people live in privately owned dwellings.

But at the end of the day we all want our children to get the best education possible. I do think that if the Govt put a selective intake in all secondary schools they would be more appealing to local parents and there wouldn't be these vast chasms in the intakes/perceived quality of the schools.

At the end of the day most parents look at the results of a school rather than the demographic of children attending. Sometimes there is a correlation and sometimes there isn't - we are generally all out to find the best options for our child(ren).

Incidentally living on a council estate in London does not demographically label you anyway....know plenty of degree-educated people living in social housing in the capital

But some schools are just plain rough and unsafe unless your face fits. With the best will in the world if one can avoid them for one's child one will - and I grew up on a Council Estate albeit a small and nice one.

StockwellLiving Fri 08-Jun-12 13:04:41

tantrums second time you mentioned that now. I am sure the rest of the cohort (or their parents) feel very smug at how socially mixed the school actually is - given how you did in fact slip through the cracks. smile.

tiggytape I think you must be right on "permanent" - thats' the key word. REntal place would be my home, but I'd move out after a while that's true. So perhaps I would be lying after all....

What gazzalw says really (have a couple of friends who live on an estate - nice cheap non-commercial rent - allows them to engage in lots of nice middle class stuff like ski holidays .... If there were truly comprehensive local schools (in both ability and social class) in inner London then I (we all) wouldn't have to do this: I'd be fine with a mix. It just doesn't exist. Even at DCs primary, middle class kids are distinct (small) minority. Fine for primary (we made that chaoice), but for secondary, the reality is that in inner london the middle classes generally (almost all) move out, rent, find religion, go indie, (tutor and) go selective. I'd rather not move out but do want to avoid the local catchment secondary. I will certainly reconsider the renting strategy if (for this school!) it turns out it may not work - but at the moment, it doesn't really sound as if Graveney/Wandworth are that hot at checking .....

TantrumsAndBalloons Fri 08-Jun-12 13:05:43

The op was the one who said she wanted a nice middle class school.

I understand wanting your Dc to go to the best school, I understand that there are some schools that most parents irrelevant of class will go to great lengths to avoid but there are so many local children ending up at these rough schools because their parents play by the rules and don't catchment rent, they should be the DCs that are going to the schools that can't because people like the op catchment rent.

We live in muswell hill where there are some very good primary schools and places are being taken by DCs who live miles away but catchment rent a flat, use the documents to get their DCs into the schools and then rent out the flat to someone else.

My next door neighbours DS goes to school in wood green, despite actually living in muswell hill as all the schools are over subscribed, but 6 DCs in my DS yr 3 class live in crouch end, wood green and tottenham and have gained their place by catchment renting, the parents are quite proud of this and happy to tell anyone.

Quite how they think they will get them into the secondary schools I don't know, I dare say by catchment renting again.

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Fri 08-Jun-12 13:14:58

Most MNs participating in this forum(ducks and waits for volley) want to avoid kids from the estates


Some schools are quite rough, if your face doesn't fit; gazza is correct there. Although inner-city comps don't have the monopoly on that ime.

Op, when I applied online last October part of the process was a declaration that I was applying using our permanent address. I imagine the process is the same nationwide so yes, you'd be committing fraud.

doggiemumma Fri 08-Jun-12 13:15:41

So what the OP is saying is, that she wants to rent a SECOND home in order to secure the best school for her child? biscuit

OhDearConfused Fri 08-Jun-12 13:17:00

Living also in SW london, I know of parents at our local primary (nowhere near enough to get in otherwise on distance) also rent to get into Graveney. Some are open about it (others - the suspicion in the playground is - lie and say the (not super-bright) DC got in on "selective" basis). Interestingly, there is no real criticim of those that do: more a general sense of its what you need to do.

But back to the OP, I know of noone who was found out. I agree it seems as if you can get away with it in Wandsworth.

TantrumsAndBalloons Fri 08-Jun-12 13:17:01

And this is just my opinion, and a lot of people might not agree but do you not think the reason there is no mix in schools is because people catchment rent?

I know it's unrealistic but if everyone who did not go down the private, selective route went to their actual local school then there would be a mix wouldn't there?

I don't know, there are some excellent state secondaries in north London that do GENUINLEY have a mix, and do very well academically, not all of them obviously, I would just love to see a system where catchment renting doesn't happen but I guess it's unrealistic.

I suppose there are just too many schools people want to avoid but I just think, if you know you are in catchment for a school you hate, then move. But actually move.

FrankWippery Fri 08-Jun-12 13:22:09

OhDearConfused...I know of a fair few over the past 7 years who have been found out - at Graveney and a couple of the primaries too. And certainly before that when my older three were at Honeywell four families were affected at there alone. I say affected - they got their places fraudulently and thus withdrawn, so karma I guess.

doggiemumma Fri 08-Jun-12 13:24:43

If this government had any spine at all it would take steps to ensure that there isnt a tiered education system dependant on how much money your parents have. It seems to be based on whether you can afford school fees (most can't) then if you can buy into a posh catchment area then "the rest". It is plain wrong. I wonder what Mr Cameron would be doing now if he were born to poor parents who couldnt afford a decent school or even to be able to send him to university?? Now don't get me wrong, i dont have a problem with private schools - but i have a massive problem with catchment lotteries.

OhDearConfused Fri 08-Jun-12 13:39:34

tantrums - never going to happen ... as you know. I've always hoped that everyone would stay put, but slowly everyone is preparing (my DC still in primary) to move/go church ...

doggiemumma 13 yr of a labour goverment - big improvements - but still the stratified educational system. It won't change under the condems (only will get worst). I actually think the way to remove is is to get rid of selectives and privates (Finland did that years ago) and move to a lottery system. Your point about Cameron is spot on. If the "ruling classes" for want of a better word would have to use genuinely comprehensive schools then they would be great and not something to avoid. Behaviour would be sorted, there would be proper setting, and proper provision for all bents. But, at the risk of repeating myself: "never going to happen". We are left with having to move, pay, cheat, or "making do". OP doesn't want to do the latter ....

doggiemumma Fri 08-Jun-12 13:42:42

She is lucky that she doesn't have to!

tiggytape Fri 08-Jun-12 13:44:55

doggie - I do agree with you. The situation is very unfair but the only solution is to force people to go to their local school which would be hugely unpopular to many who don't want their well behaved / bright / motivated / non street-wise kids fed to the lions (as they'd see it) to drag up standards (as they’d also see it).
People would also hold their hands up in horror at the lack of choice but choice is an alien concept in the London school system anyway. If you don't live in the school playground and don't have a sibling, you can't go to a school you like no matter how much you think it suits your child (unless you cheat of course).

I must admit we've seen a few schools implement sudden changes to admission criteria with next to no notice which has helped in our area.
If Graveney applicants suddenly all faced vetting of their entire council tax history as of October this year with no prior notice, it would probably sort out the problem for future years (with a high casualty rate for the year of the clamp down). Ditto if they shifted the sibling link or changed the testing procedures. Making it unpredictable makes people less able to hone in on one school to aim for and makes it more likely they will get a local school instead. Some schools do this eg suddenly changing the sibling criteria to make 'out of catchment' siblings a lower priority than local children (especially where renting for places has been an issue in previous years). It reduces the motivation or ability to cheat or to move for places. It keeps everyone on the back foot a bit and stops people planning a cheat years in advance. It also stops people moving legitimately just for catchment areas because who’s to say they won’t change the admission criteria again or introduce banding or a lottery system or change the sibling link again?

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