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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 Wed 10-Apr-13 16:59:19

It is 3 miles for secondary but still too far for even an 11 year old to walk. In London they get free bus transport anyway but it is a problem elsewhere or if they need to go by train.

NotMostPeople Wed 10-Apr-13 17:00:34

No children are eligible for free transport to school here, regardless of distance. It used to be over three and a half miles, but it was charged last year to cutbacks. It will cost me £80 per month in September for my two dd's to go to school and £120 the year after when DS goes.

Coconutty Wed 10-Apr-13 17:00:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

nancy75 Wed 10-Apr-13 17:01:47

If you own the house you live in at the moment you would need to rent it out and then rent in catchment until your child had started school. We moved to get my dd into a school ( we rent so not so tricky) we had to provide all final bills for the utilities in the old house as well as bills for the new address. We do legitimately live at the new address, which is good because we had somebody turn up on the doorstep to check that we live here. Whether you get away with it probably depends on how common this is in your area, there is a school near us which has 1 form entry & is very popular, some years the admissions team turn up at the houses of every child that got a place.
if it came to it I admit I would do the same to get dd into a good school.

OneMoreMum Wed 10-Apr-13 17:02:34

I was thinking about secondary where of course they could walk but I take your point.
The only fair situation is for there to be enough decent schools for everyone, but that's a bit of a pipe dream in some areas.

VenusRising Wed 10-Apr-13 17:09:20

I moved and had my dd christened as well, just for good measure to get her a place in our preferred school. Paris is worth the Mass, but I hate living in this area.

I don't know about the ethics of lying about living somewhere you're not living in order to be eligible. I don't think I could be dishonest like this. Play dates would be off the menu for a start, wouldn't they?

It's a difficult ethical question, as, yes, all children need a good education, and deserve it too.

LadyStark Wed 10-Apr-13 18:39:15

Isn't everyone who buys in the catchment 'buying' a place? They've just had a bit more foresight than the OP.

Everyone moving into the catchment of a good school - and for most parents this is an important consideration in any house purchase - is pushing up house prices, depriving children further away of a place etc. It's the system that's dreadful. I wouldn't do it but I think the moralising on here about it is a bit OTT.

prh47bridge Wed 10-Apr-13 18:41:14

As long as I live there what does it matter what my motivation was

It matters because living in temporary accommodation in order to gain admission to a school is not allowed. You are required to use your permanent address when applying for a school place. If the LA thinks you have moved into rented accommodation in order to get a school place they are legally entitled to regard your application as fraudulent and use the address of the property you own for admissions purposes.

Yes, you may get away with it. Some people do every year. But, as I said previously, a large number of people who try this get caught. You won't get prosecuted if you are caught - only one prosecution has been attempted and the LA withdrew before it reached court. But you may find your child misses out not only on the good school you were after but also on any decent schools near your real address, ending up with an unpopular school that you really don't want.

soundevenfruity Wed 10-Apr-13 18:57:49

There were quite a few threads like yours on mumsnet. What can count against you is if you own a house and are renting a flat at the time of application you might need to provide a credible explanation for that. Some councils do check where the applicant's parents pay their council tax. I am not sure they can check property ownership. Secondly, you can't talk about it because if this information gets out there (you don't know whose friend's children missed out on the place) the place can be withdrawn. Thirdly, there are addresses that are blacklisted by LEAs if there are multiple cases of renting them to get into the school. This is from the practical point of view. Morally, it is a minefield. I am not sure where it stands comparatively to becoming a church goer without actually believing or postponing buying a house and renting in the catchment area until your firstborn gets into a preferred school or paying for private education etc.

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 19:00:37

LadyStark - that is all very true.
But whilst morally both might be wrong or unfair, for admissions purposes only one of them is not allowed.
So putting morals aside, the OP asked how she could do it and people have explained that she can't without risk.

As prh says, the risk is greatest if you get caught after March 1st rather than having the error cheat spotted before then.
After March 1st, all school places have been allocated so when you get your offer formally withdrawn, no decent school anywhere will have places left for you to go to.
You'll then have to wait and eventually be allocated a potentially much worse school than the one you were trying to avoid in the first place or an equally bad one but a great deal further away from home.

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 19:06:33

I am not sure they can check property ownership.
They can and do in cases where they are suspicious.
If you rent near a popular school but have another home elsewhere, you can expect a lot of questions to be asked. They can check a great deal more than just council tax and land registry too: DVLA, the address you use at primary school, Dr surgery address and any other sources if they are not satisfied.

And that is only fair. There cannot be a situation where people can spend several thousand £ renting a little flat near a lovely school, getting a place and then swanning off back to their family home out of catchment leaving people living close to the school no local place to go to and no alternative either.
As I said, in London one third of parents don't get the school they want. If you let them all rent a flat for a few months to overcome this, it would be horrendous trying to get into any school.

teacherwith2kids Wed 10-Apr-13 19:51:23

As far as I remember, for DS's school any move up to 6 months prior to application is regarded as potentially fraudulent, and searches are done to check whether you also rent or own another address. Addresses are checked again on school entry, and places are often withdrawn at this point. And all potentially fraudulent moves brought to the schools'a ttention at any point are fully investigated and places withdrawn.

Basically, any move into accommodation - especially rented accommodation - near the school within the 12 months before entry, whether it is discovered during the application process or at any point while the child attends the school, is regraded as potentially fraudulent unless proved otherwise (e.g. if the permanent address is 100 miles away and there is a clear reason for the move to do with a parent's work). Places can be and are removed retrospectively, so there is no point at which it is 'safe' to move back, because the simple fact of dual property ownership / rental is seen to be potentially fraudulent.

MintyyAeroEgg Wed 10-Apr-13 19:55:05

Haven't read the whole thread, apologies, I usually do.

Most schools in London have cottoned on to this scummy practice, so I would live in your rented house for 2 years at least.

NotMostPeople Wed 10-Apr-13 20:37:33

When we accepted dd2's place for September we had to send three utility bills inc council tax and a recent letter from Child Benefit bods.

whokilleddannylatimer Wed 10-Apr-13 22:10:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

whokilleddannylatimer Wed 10-Apr-13 22:11:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

admission Wed 10-Apr-13 22:25:03

Just so we are clear, the LA that I live in has a nice long list of houses / flats / apartments that are rented out and are in the catchment for "wanted" schools. In effect there is a great big red flag on that application as soon as it is inputted to the system, as it is known to be a residence rented out on a short term basis.
The LA will look with a jaundiced view point at any such application and if they have any belief that you are trying a fast one and have another property then you will lose that place in the school.

enlondon Wed 10-Apr-13 23:03:15

It sounds that the only way I would stand a chance is to stay in the rented accommodation in the catchment area for long enough (through the whole of year 7) AND to let our current house. Anything else and the risks would be too great.

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Wed 10-Apr-13 23:27:02

There's a boy in my dds class who lives about eight miles from our primary. His initial application was turned down, his mum was furious and appealed and he got in. There's three other primary schools between our village and theirs. A little girl who lived about a mile down the road and literally just over the village border and therefore technically out of catchment, didn't get a place. Her mum appealed but was turned down. Now that is wrong. The boys mum should have been made to take him to a closer school. Takes the piss out of the whole catchment selection process and in this case really did mean a local child missed out on a place at her nearest school. (Her catchment school was actually further away than ours, down lots of narrow lanes).

whokilleddannylatimer Thu 11-Apr-13 00:18:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sashh Thu 11-Apr-13 07:18:38

If all the parents who could do this put the same money and effort into improving their local school there would be no 'bad' schools.

It's fraud. You are teaching your child to get ahead by cheating.

IMHO if this is found out the child and any siblings should be removed even if they are half way through GCSEs.

exoticfruits Thu 11-Apr-13 07:23:33

It is fraud. I would hope that you have to stay there for the entire school career.

exoticfruits Thu 11-Apr-13 07:25:34

Of course they were puzzled by the question- if people commit fraud they don't tell people first and ask the advice of the person/institution they are defrauding!

Moominsarehippos Thu 11-Apr-13 07:27:46

It sounds like a risky plan to me. I know people who have been in the fortunate situation to be rich enough to up sticks and buy on the doorstep of their chosen school and walk in. I can't think that's much worse than renting, its still playing the game.

It is a bloody minefield and in London the number of kids getting into first choice school is what, one in 3?

mummytime Thu 11-Apr-13 07:45:03

BTW lots of people near me walk 2 miles (or nearly) with their 4 year old, and with younger siblings in the buggy.

OP you need to: be in the new address when you apply, still be there on offer day, still be there when your child starts school, be paying council tax there, have rented out/sold your own house. Then you should be okay. However to do all this you need to be really really sure that this is the right school for your child, and be willing to put up with how awkward their social life will be for you, as their friends will all live in another community.

Whatever the individual schools admission arrangements may say, you also need to know what the LA's say. It has been known for LAs to employ private investigators to "stalk" suspected fruadulent applicants.

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