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Secondary school admission

(9 Posts)
cathyw1 Fri 26-May-17 21:38:28

Hi, can someone offer me some advice please.
At the time of me applying for my son's secondary school placement, I was in the process of moving into my partner's property which is in a different borough. The place of the school was offered.
I have since moved in, my house is sold subject to contract and we are waiting for council tax confirmation that I am on my partner's council tax.
Stockport council have requested additional paperwork and if not received they will suspend my sons place.
The problem I have is that even though we now all live together in my partner's address (now our address), my house is STC therefore no actual paperwork as yet and we still have no confirmation re the council tax. I need this information urgently.
Obviously I do not want my son to loose his place and it is not a case of we have moved into a catchment area as it three boroughs away. How do I advice the council of this and is there any way around it.
Please I am desperate.
Thanks Cathy

PatriciaHolm Fri 26-May-17 22:42:39

By the sounds of it, you applied using an address you (and your child) did not at that point live in, nor were you going to for some time, given applications closed almost 7 months ago.

Stockport make it clear that the address you need to use is the principal parental home - not somewhere you were planning to move into at some point in the indeterminate future. They stipulate explicitly that "The Admissions Support and Advice Team cannot allocate a place on the basis of an address until you are permanently residing there or there is substantial confirmation of an imminent move."

So you may have a problem. I know it may feel like it makes more sense to use the address you planned to be in when he started school, but none of local authorities I'm aware of would use an address you were not currently living in (or didn't have substantive proof of moving to imminently - which would be a rental agreement or proof of exchange of contracts on a property sale, usually) as the address for applications I'm afraid. If you have moved between application close date and allocation date and been able to prove the move then, it might have been a different story, but it sounds as if that was not the case.

All you can realistically do now is chase for proof of the council tax, and documentation on the house sale, though there exchange will I think be needed not just an agreement on price. But you may need to face the possibility that Stockport take a hard line on this (I sit on appeals panels and have seen it happen I'm afraid, though not in Stockport).

cathyw1 Fri 26-May-17 23:11:01

Thanks Patricia. The annoying thing is approx 4 weeks ago Stockport education contacted me and ensured me my son definitely has a place and that there were no problems. Why now send out the letter.
Also we have applied for a primary place for my daughter ( going into yr5) in the same borough. So it's definitely not the case of it being a catchment area.
Worst case scenario and they withdraw the place, surely my son cannot be without a school placement.

PanelChair Sat 27-May-17 07:25:08

They can withdraw the place if they reach the view that it was obtained by fraud. As Patricia says, they might do that if they decide to take a hard line; it seems you applied from an address that you weren't actually living at and (in their definition) aren't living at even now, if you haven't sold your former home and aren't registered for council tax. That might sound harsh, but many admissions authorities are taking a very firm line on what constitutes a child's home address, as some people will try to exploit any grey areas.

I can't explain why Stockport said there was no problem with your son's school place and later said there might be - you'd have to ask them - but either this is a routine, random check on addresses or someone's raised it with them. Anyway, this is the worst case scenario, but if Stockport do withdraw the place you'll need to take advice from them about which schools do have places for September.

cathyw1 Sat 27-May-17 08:39:50

It definitely wasn't done by fraud. My partner lives in that borough and due to us living part time there at the time of submitting the application with a view if permantely living there I thought I had to apply to that borough. I work in the public sector so committing fraud is worth my job .
This was my honest belief that I had to apply to that borough.
Just a further question..... the hous is stc. However the intention all along was to leave it standing empty until such time. Would I still have to prove anything with my house.
Will the council tax and perhaps other bills assist. Also is it worth my partner and I going to the offices to explain. Sorry panicking now

PanelChair Sat 27-May-17 09:10:27

I don't want to panic you, but it's the local authority's definition of fraud that matters, not yours.

They may (I stress may) take the view that applying from an address that you live in only part-time is misrepresentation and fraud. The fact that you're still (it seems) not fully installed in your partner' house several months later might reinforce that.

Local education authorities usually publish very detailed guidance on how they determine where a child lives, including when the child splits time between two homes.

When people are trying to get a place in a school where they wouldn't normally qualify for a place, it's not unusual for them to rent a place or stay with friends near the desired school and then move back once they have got a place. That's why local authorities now have more stringent checks on where people actually live and why many want evidence that the previous home has been sold. Applying on the basis of an address where you might be living in the future is almost never possible (there are some exceptions for forces families) because otherwise hundreds of people would claim that they intended to move right beside the most popular school in the borough.

You do need to speak to Stockport about what more they need to see. Perhaps your councillor could help you with that.

prh47bridge Sat 27-May-17 09:14:07

This definitely won't cost you your job. You haven't committed a criminal offence. The worst that will happen is that they take away your son's place and offer him a place somewhere else.

It is up to the LA what evidence they want to prove that you were complying with the rules. No-one on here can tell you what they will need. I would give them as much evidence as you can and set out your case fully in writing. You certainly shouldn't go to the offices without an appointment as there is no guarantee you would be able to see the person dealing with your case. If it were me I wouldn't go to the offices - it is too easy to forget to mention an important fact or muddle things. I would concentrate on setting out what happened and when clearly in writing.

If they do take the place away you will have the opportunity to appeal against the decision.

cathyw1 Sat 27-May-17 09:30:45

Thank you everyone.
I wouldn't mind but the borough I did live in had the better schools so it's definitely nothing to do with being in a catchment area.
Annoyed that they contacted me via phone and informed me he definitely had a place. Surely if there were issues they should have been raised then.
Anyway thanks everyone for your advice will certainly take it on board

BarbarianMum Sat 27-May-17 10:26:23

They can inform you that there are issues, investigate and withdraw the place any time right up until term starts. So no, no duty on them to have raised it earlier, the duty was on you to apply using your permanent address at the time.

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