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Moving into rented accommodation in the catchment area-when can I safely move back?

(307 Posts)
enlondon Wed 10-Apr-13 01:00:03

I am thinking of renting a property in the catchment area of a secondary school. Once I have done this and my child is given a place (presuming everything has gone to plan and the catchment area has not all off the sudden become even smaller etc), how much longer do I need to live there before I can move safely back to our house outside the catchment area? As soon as I have filled in the application? As soon as my child is offered the place? As soon as my child has actually started in September? I actually called the LEA to ask this question and they were not sure. I asked a different LEA the same question about another school and they said that I could move out of the catchment area as soon as the application form was received! They seemed puzzled by my question though, understandably, and not sure if I trust their answer.

tiggytape Sat 13-Apr-13 12:11:22

Of course buying gives you the right to send your dcs to the local school even if you have no intention of living there

No - it is still cheating and treated as such whether she lived in that house or not. Obtaining an extra home for admissions purposes (however you obtain it) is not allowed if you then move back to the original address (or never leave it in the first place).

You have to be a bit careful assuming that everyone who gets in from out of catchment is fiddling the system though.
There may be things you don't know about. If a child is statemented, they can choose a school regardless of distance criteria. If a child has been adopted from care, they get priority for all schools now. If a child has a medical or social need (not necessarily 'visible' ones), they may get priority at some schools too.
These are things other parents might not share with you and that you probably wouldn't know from any other source.
If you suspect a fraudulent application, you can report it to the LA. In the case of statemented and adopted children, the LA will already know why these children got priority. They won't tell you but will reassure you that the allocation was correct.
In the case of people buying or renting extra homes, the LA will look at the address which was used on the application, dig deeper into other addresses the family may have and check whether the application address was used short term just for schools.

difficultpickle Sat 13-Apr-13 14:43:55

The child I know isn't statemented etc. The mum overshares on everything and would probably tell me how she got the place if I bothered to ask. I just assumed their application was successful maybe because of lower numbers in the year she applied but when I looked at the application data I realised that they must have done something else to get a place. It isn't a school I would choose and I doubt that the dc will stay there as they have a place at different school lined up for the future.

prh47bridge Sat 13-Apr-13 21:23:15

MrsGrowBag - In London the borough council collects council tax and handles school admissions. In an area like yours the county council may contact the district authority to ask for checks on council tax and electoral roll information.

prh47bridge Sat 13-Apr-13 21:28:21

goodvibrationsrgood - I would be happy to advise on any appeal. As Tiggytape says, you should probably start a separate thread. I have come across this approach to distance before. In my view it should be avoided because of the anomalies it can throw up - not just the one you highlighted.

daytoday Sun 14-Apr-13 09:29:15

I know someone who did this. They moved down the road. They were already contributing to the local community but didn't have the extra 200,000 to buy the same size house in catchment. Ironically both parents were teachers in diff boroughs but taught in very deprived schools, so prob benefitting society more than others.

They moved back halfway through year 7.

tiggytape Sun 14-Apr-13 09:43:39

They took the risk and it paid off. I assume this is was some time ago when there were less checks. If not, they should probably keep quiet about it since it is possible they can still get caught and lose the place.
Not everyone gets caught but parents aren't 'safe' even if they don’t get caught initially. One of the other posters here knows a boy kicked out of school half way through Year 8 because his parents cheated and who was devastated by it.

And being a teacher in a deprived area, or a thoroughly nice human being who contributes to the local community, doesn't excuse the fact that this is wrong and directly causes misery to other families.
Lots of people cannot afford to live near good schools or in houses they want. Cheating doesn't even things up since the people who lose out are those in cheaper housing on the edge of catchment not the people in the expensive houses near the school of the type your friend couldn't afford.
All they’ve done is push out another child and another family who probably had a similar income and similar choices to them (and may also have been nice people who help in their community).

teacherwith2kids Sun 14-Apr-13 10:31:02

Some people say that they only consider doing what the OP suggests (or think it would be OK) because schools vary so much, and until all schools are good, think it acceptable.

A point that might be worth making is that this scramble to obtain places in 'the best' school, through fair means or foul, actually windens the gulf between 'honeypot' schools and the rest, and mitigates against exactly what people say they want - good schools available to all.

If parents with money, interest in education and determination to do well by their children are more evenly distributed between schools - so if some go to the 'less desirable' schools through being in their catchment area - then that is an agent of change that will in time birn gup the standard of those schools. If, on the other hand, all or many of such parents do whatever it takes to go to the 'honeypot' school, then the gulf between that school and the less desirable ones gets wider and wider.

difficultpickle Sun 14-Apr-13 12:39:30

In the case I know it was to get into a grammar school so the child would have had to pass the 11+.

I don't think you can lay all the blame for failing schools at the door of parents who seek to cheat the system. I don't condone cheating at all but I witnessed an outstanding school become a special measures school in under two years. The parents hadn't changed but the head had and his incompetence had a devastating effect on the school. Bearing in mind the cohort of parents I wouldn't have expected the change to be so dramatic and so quick but it was.

It has taken 8 years to turn the school around and it still has a considerable way to go to be back to outstanding. Ds will have left primary school by then.

teacherwith2kids Sun 14-Apr-13 13:36:45


I was not implying that fraudulent applications are the main factor behind 'failing' schools in any way.

I would, however, make a distinction, which Ofsted / Gove / league tables often fail to do, between schools that have lower results as a result of an intake skewed towards children of lower ability / higher disadvantage (e.g. secondary moderns in full grammar areas, schools in some very deprived areas) who nevertheless make good progress FOR THEM and schools which fail their intake through not enabling them to make good progress from their starting points.

In a school of the former type, in which children make very good or even exceptional progress from their starting points (but which are often locally regarded as the 'bad' schools because of the nature of their intake), a re-balancing of the intake through the entry of children from the type of decently-off, educationally-savvy parents I referred to above may well have a strongly positive impact on the school.

In a school such as you refer to, where incompetent leadership, complacency, instability or poor teaching means that children do not makw the progress that they should, then I agree that the arrival of a slightly different cohort of children would make little difference.

difficultpickle Sun 14-Apr-13 16:42:44

Sorry, I wasn't referring to fraudulent applications when I mentioned the local school. All I was trying to say is schools can go from outstanding to failing without any move from parents. The school I am thinking of failed within one year of the appointment of a new head. Everyone was shocked at how quickly it deteriorated bearing in mind the majority of the staff were the same as under the old head.

teacherwith2kids Sun 14-Apr-13 16:49:10

Biso, absolutely that can happen. However, IME it can also be that skeletons can tumble out of cupboards under new heads that nobody suspected were there under the old one!

I have direct experience of a school in which a long-established head appeared to keep a school on an even keel, only to disappear just before Ofsted and for a new head to uncover HUGE issues. To the parents, it must have looked as if the new head created the issues, whereas in actual fact they only ceased to conceal them....

marinagasolina Sun 14-Apr-13 17:47:28

Another thing to point out as far as cheating the system because "X school I'm in the catchment for is horrible and I don't want my child to go there":

My foster daughter's school, as I've said before, has a drug problem, she got involved with drugs through some of the older kids. She's spent the best part of year 11 getting wasted with her (expelled) BF when she should be in lessons and the school made a bloody halfhearted attempt to deal with it. This is the school she ended up at after missing out on the 'outstanding' school by a couple of metres, in an area where people are known to rent in order to get into the 'outstanding' school and avoid this one. When she got involved with the drugs, the reason many parents tried to avoid this school, she was still living at home with her mum, who was completely disengaged and unsupportive.

I have taught in a number of failing secondaries with such problems, including this one. Trust me, the kids of those on this thread who have/are planning on renting/cheating to avoid these schools are NOT the kids I worry about getting caught up in the drugs. The reason is simple: the parents are engaged enough and concerned enough about their child's wellbeing to support them, to listen to them, and to teach them the difference between right and wrong. The children I DO worry about are the ones like DFD was, the ones whose parents couldn't give a damn how their child is doing at school. I'm not saying it's only ever been the kids from the unsupportive homes who get caught up in anti-social behaviour in and out of school, but in the majority of cases the children of the concerned, engaged parents are not the ones who end up as school drop outs on drugs.

Now I'm absolutely not saying that on that basis, the children from unsupportive homes like my foster daughter, as she was in year 6, should be the ones who get priority for the local outstanding school, and the ones from the supportive homes the ones who get shoved into the failing one. Not at all. But I am saying that if you cheat the system and rent in order to avoid your catchment school because it has a bad reputation, you are potentially sending a child like my foster daughter into an environment of temptation, where she is at a disadvantage simply because she lacks the support network that your child has.

It's a postcode lottery, and I appreciate that. But that's the way it works in this country, it's the law, and anyone who rents/uses a second address/bends the rules because they want the best for their child when it means depriving someone else's child is a criminal in my book and upon being found out should be treated as such.

tiggytape Sun 14-Apr-13 18:10:47

Also outstanding schools aren't inspected annually. An outstanding school may in fact have been terrible for the last 2 or 3 years but until Ofsted arrive and offer their official judgement, the outstanding label sticks.
So a school that suddenly gets a new Head and then a terrible Ofsted may in fact have been awful for some time but the last head jumped ship before anyone could blame them. And parents don't always see it because often they have nothing to compare it to.

If you are desperate to get into a school that was given an Outstanding label 3 years ago, the school may be nothing like it was then. It may be half a term away from Special Measures.

marina - I agree with you totally. Unfortunately there is nothing in school admissions to give priority to children whose parents dont' care at all about education.

But in areas where there is a brilliant school and a terrible school such as you describe, I think the schools or council have a duty to even things up. This does happen already for example in terms of lending out the best teachers from the good schools to the worst schools for whole terms at a time, sending the Head teacher from the best school to the worst school and sharing resources.

It is not popular with parents (the staff don't mind - they have some say and generally it is good for career development) but it really can even things up. If all the middle class parents are cheating and falling over themselves to get the best school and avoid the worst, maybe they'd think twice if the brilliant Head of Science then disappeared to the 'bad' school for a year or the Head shared her time between the two or the schools combined for many sports and subjects.

It isn't feasible in all areas but if it was made clear to the parents that the bad school was going to be given all the best bits of the best school, maybe the scramble to get into the best school wouldn't be so immense.

marinagasolina Sun 14-Apr-13 18:44:07

Tiggytape- re the sending the best of the best school to help out at the worst, it's being trialled at our failing school at the moment and it's doing wonders to the grades of the kids who want to be there and want to learn. Admittedly it has widened the gap between them and the kids who don't want to be there and aren't interested, but I do think to a point that if you come into my lessons and point blank refuse to cooperate with me, there's only a certain amount I can do. I will NEVER give up on a pupil, but I'm not a miracle worker, and I can't get you an A in my subject if you won't let me teach you.

Again, the majority of the kids who are downright disruptive and refuse to learn and are falling further and further behind the others as a result are from families where the parents just aren't bothered. Sad but true.

Continuing on from my first point, a message to all you parents in the catchment area for a failing school considering cheating the system, from a teacher in a special measures school with a bloody awful reputation: if your child comes through my classroom door eager to learn and trying their best in my lessons, I'll pick up on that. Trust me. I don't care if your child's best is a C or an A*. If your child is committed and wants to work hard, I will do my utmost to help them get the best grade in my subject they can possibly achieve, regardless of how many of their classmates want to be there and put some effort in. I will (and have in the past) give them extra revision sessions at lunch/after school if I have to.

tiggytape Sun 14-Apr-13 18:53:55

Marina - absolutely. Some of the teachers being lent out are Heads and Deputy Heads so are hopefully able to direct, or help direct, whole school concerns such as discipline, motivation and the bigger issues that each individual teacher cannot do alone.
You sound like you do an amazing job with your pupils and I am sure it is appreciated that you go above and beyond for those that want to do well.

teacherwith2kids Sun 14-Apr-13 18:55:10

Tiggy, similar scheme going on at the moment between a 'regarded by the public as good' comp and a 'regarded by the public as bad' comp locally - and it has reduced the hysteria amongst parents about moving heaven and earth to get into the 'goo' one of the pair.

Tbh, the 'good' one has a very privileged catchment, the other has one that is very much not so, so IMHO the differences in terms of actual quality of teaching and learning aren't that great anyway....

tiggytape Sun 14-Apr-13 19:05:03

teacher - that's the same here too. There has been practical help from the swaps / mentoring, sharing of initiatives and even sharing resources. In general though, one of the most helpful outcomes is to reduce the vigour with which parents avoid the 'bad' school because it has been lent some of the good schools kudos as well as staff.

mummytime Sun 14-Apr-13 21:00:10

Similar is happening between my DCs school and a local one. The other school has improved how uniform is worn, hopefully the pupils are feeling less hopeless, and I know parents who applied there in preference to other local schools (which were often preferred).

marinagasolina Mon 15-Apr-13 10:15:52

Hysteria hasn't been reduced here sadly. If anything it's been raised amongst the parents at the 'outstanding' school, who are furious that teachers are mentoring here and that our kids are 'invading' their sports facilities hmm I'm sorry, but you can't have it both ways. At some point, you have to accept that your child is not the only one who matters in the education system, and steps are going to be taken to help out the others not fortunate enough to be at a fantastic school. If you don't like that, then home educate.

tiggytape Mon 15-Apr-13 10:38:19

marina - I meant admissions hysteria is being reduced because people aren't so afraid of the 'bad' school anymore.

Knowing that your children will still get access to the sports facilities at the 'best school' even if they aren't allocated that school helps. As does knowing that your school will be lent the well respected Deputy Head Teacher and Head of Science from the 'best school'

It absolutely does annoy parents who've managed to get into the best school - but tough!
Why should any area accept half its population going to a school that hasn't had a proper science teacher for over a year when the other school has several good science teachers?
Why should any area accept half its population being sent to a school with barely a blade of grass let alone a sports hall when the other children get a fully equipped gym, tennis courts and a large field to play on?

By seeking to reduce the differences between the 'good' and 'bad' schools (in terms of facilities) and by using the 'good' school's experiences and expertise to bring up standards in the 'bad' school, more people benefit.
I know there are parents with children at good schools who think this is outrageous and don't want to share their best teachers and lovely sports hall but - like you say - they have to realise their child is no more deserving of these chances than every child who couldn't get allocated a place there.

marinagasolina Mon 15-Apr-13 12:52:49

Ah OK, I see what you mean. Parents still seem to be afraid of the 'bad' school here, but that seems to be more to do with the anti-social behaviour issues than the results IYSWIM, the results are definitely improving. On the anti-social behaviour front improvements are being made, but at a much slower rate, and that seems to be a stigma harder to shake free of than poor exam results. This is the first academic year we've been involved in sharing resources with the outstanding school, so it's hoped that we'll start to see a change in attitude amongst prospective parents come next year.

I have to admit that as things are now, I'm not too bothered about my foster daughter being at the failing school rather than the outstanding one, because she's free of the bad influences in her life she met at this school when she started and the overall standard of the school, although still not great, is improving. But that wasn't the situation last year, when she went off the rails well and true, and certainly wasn't the situation when she started here. If this was really her catchment school and no places at the outstanding school she just missed out on were given to children of parents renting properties then fair enough, but given that's been going on in order to avoid the failing school for years in this area now I strongly suspect that could have been the case. No amount of effort to turn her school around when she's in year 11 can compensate for the fact she should never have been here in the first place if everyone played by the rules, to me anyway.

Pyrrah Tue 16-Apr-13 15:16:07

Just out of interest...

What would be the situation if someone owned 2 properties a few miles from each other and had owned both for multiple years.

They used to live in Property A and now live in Property B and rent A out.

The school they want their DS to go to is a dead-cert from Property A but very, very borderline from B.

Would it be wrong for them to rent out Property B for a year and move back to Property A - and then move back to Property B and rent out A again.

Is that less morally wrong than renting a property nearby - or just as bad?

teacherwith2kids Tue 16-Apr-13 15:44:12

a) I think they are morally equivalent - the intent is to obtain a place in a school through TEMPORARILY doing something that you would otherwise not do, with the full intention of returning to the original status quo afterwards.

b) In practical terms, locally it would be treated as suspect and investigated. The discovery that you still had an additional property that has until recently been the main family home would almost certianly count as reasonable grounds not to award a place. Should you get away with it first time, the moving back to the original address (recently the tracking o addresses over the first year + in school has become more commonplace in response to just such situations) would trigger your child's removal from the school.

tiggytape Tue 16-Apr-13 16:01:31

I agree with teacher. It is moving back to an old address after securing a school place that is fraud.

It doesn't matter how long you have owned (or rented) any property for.

It doesn't matter when you move house or if you choose to rent or buy.

If you have 2 houses you must list the one you genuinely live in (as defined by council tax history, utilities, Dr and all those things) AND crucially you cannot then move back to address B having used address A to secure a school place.

In such cases the move from B to A would be regarded as suspicious (but not in itself fraud especially if house B was sold).
It is likely to trigger a close investigation of whether house B has been disposed of and therefore whether house A is the 'real' home.

The move from A back to B again would be when the admission authority could reasonably suspact fraud and remove the school place unless there was a very good reason to explain it (eg house B was burnt to the ground and being rebuilt and the family had to move out for a year)

banana999 Wed 11-Dec-13 05:56:45

This is a long thread. I remembered reading some members posted that inspector called on the doorstep to check whether the address is genuine. Just curious, when they called, do they actually tell you that they are there to check whether you are genuinely living there? Or they pretend to call for something else? Do they identify themselves as from the School Admission team?

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