Families caught out lying to get school places

Two girls hold hands with an adult as they set off for their first day at a new school, but some parents have been lying about where they live to get their child a place at a better school.
Two girls hold hands with an adult as they set off for their first day at a new school, but some parents have been lying about where they live to get their child a place at a better school.
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MORE than a hundred parents in the region have been caught supplying false information in an attempt to win their child a place at a better school, the Yorkshire Post can reveal.

Twelve out of 13 education authorities in Yorkshire – which provided figures – have uncovered parents lying about where they live in order to cheat another child out of a place at popular schools in recent years.

There have been 108 cases where parents have used “fraudulent or misleading information” in order to try to convince education bosses that they live within a school’s catchment area.

The majority of these incidents have taken place in the past two years.

The Yorkshire Post has also obtained reports, which have not been published before, showing council’s submissions to a Government investigation into the scale of the problem, which was published last year.

These reports show how dozens of parents have attempted to cheat their way into getting their child a place at their chosen school.

They also reveal that three councils: Hull, Leeds and North Yorkshire told the Government review that fraudulent applications from parents were a problem in their area. All councils which responded to the review said that removing the child’s place at a school was a sufficient punishment.

Fraudulent applications are spotted by councils when the addresses supplied on forms do not match existing records or if a recent change of address is noted.

The Yorkshire Post asked for figures on the number of fraudulent applications made by parents in each of the region’s 15 education authorities over the past five academic years.

“This has revealed that there have been at least 108 cases in the region – with the majority coming in the past two years. Councils say the fraudulent applications usually relate to parents attempting to show that their permanent address is in the catchment area of a particular school.

Cases in Yorkshire include parents trying to use the address of a relative or friend as their permanent home on application forms.

In some cases people have rented a property in the school’s catchment area at the time they were applying for a school place.

Parents have also told councils they have split up in order to claim that the child’s permanent home has changed, according to the reports.

One applicant in Leeds used an address which they knew was being rented out by a friend. In order to use this house in their application form they attempted to bribe the tenant with boxes of chocolate in return for them forwarding any post.

This came to light when the tenant instead contacted the council.

The Chief Schools Adjudicator Ian Craig carried out a review of fraudulent applications and published two reports in 2009 and last year.

It was commissioned by former Children’s Secretary Ed Balls who said he was determined to bring an end to “deception” being used by parents in order to secure school places.

Hull Council, which has dealt with 20 fraudulent or misleading applications from parents in the past two years told Dr Craig’s investigation that it was only a problem at two oversubscribed schools in the city.

Its submission to the review said: “Where a parent provides an address that is in one of these catchment areas we make initial checks and if it appears that the parent may have been giving a false address we ask them to provide a utility bill linking them to that address.

“At this point most parents call us in a state of panic and admit that the address is the grandparents’ or that they are living with someone temporarily.”

Leeds Council told the Chief Schools Adjudicator’s investigation that although it had investigated 10 cases in one year it actually believed the number of parents using false information in order to get places at school was likely to be four times higher.

North Yorkshire County Council has told the Yorkshire Post it has dealt with 25 fraudulent or misleading applications in the last two years.

Sheffield Council said there had been 13 proven cases since 2005 while Bradford has dealt with nine during this period.

Barnsley said there had been no cases of misleading applications received in recent years while a spokesman for North Lincolnshire Council said it was not an issue for their authority.