Revealed: Yorkshire’s school fraud hotspots as parents lie about their addresses

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PARENTS ARE being warned against using a false address to get their child into popular schools after new figures reveal dozens of investigations led to people losing out on places in Yorkshire .

Figures obtained by the Yorkshire Post from councils across the region show that 25 places have been withdrawn or applications blocked as a result of fraudulent information being provided to local councils.

Town hall leaders say that although this represents a small percentage of the parents applying there are regularly people willing to cheat the system in an attempt to get into popular schools.

The Yorkshire Post asked education authorities under the Freedom of Information Act how many investigations into alleged school admission fraud they had carried out in 2014 and 2015. Figures reveal more than 70 investigations have been carried out in the space of two years.

In Leeds there have been more than 30 investigations alone. Of these in 2014, eight were for secondary school places and eight were for primary. Three primary applications and two secondary ones were proven to be fraudulent.

The following year the authority investigated another 15 alleged fraudulent applications. Of these three were for secondary and 12 were for primary schools. However only one of these was found to be fraudulent and a secondary school place was withdrawn.

A council spokeswoman said: “It is really important that our admissions system is fair for everybody so we have a robust system in place to investigate any application we believe could be fraudulent. This includes requiring proof of address and carrying out record checks. Each year a small number of parents try to get a popular school place this way, taking a place that should have been given to another child. If a place is found to have been secured using fraudulent information, the offer would be withdrawn.”

In Kirklees there have been eight investigations in the past two years. Two of these were for places at primary school in 2014/15 one of which was found to be fraudulent. In the 2015/16 academic year there were six more investigations Three of these were fraudulent applications, one for a primary and another two for secondary school places.

In the East Riding two investigations led to two places being withdrawn in 2014/15.

In Calderdale there have been nine investigations in the past four years. Twice this resulted in a school place being removed. Sheffield City Council carried out five investigations in 2014 into primary school applications which led to two places being withdrawn. In 2015 it investigated another three primary applications and one secondary. One of the primaries and the secondary were found to be fraudulent and places withdrawn.

There were 12 investigations in Wakefield in 2014/15 of which six cases were found to be fraudulent. In the previous two years three other applications were found to be fraudulent.

Rotherham Council said one application was withdrawn in 2014/15 when the authority asked for proof of an address. It said that this had been a suspected “extra district application claiming to have a catchment area address.”

In York there were four investigations in 2014/15 with one case found to be fraudulent

Bradford, Doncaster and Hull said there had been no investigations in the past two years

Calderdale Council’s response to the Freedom of Information Request said it checks whenever there is a discrepancy between the home address given on the application form and the one the authority has on record. It says the majority of these applications are genuine.

.However it added: “There has been a few instances in previous years where parents have deliberately misled the LA in respect of home address. In all instances, investigations have been carried out and where it is clear that the alleged home address is not the actual permanent residence, the offer of a school place has been withdrawn.”

A Local Government Association spokeswoman said: “The school admissions code ensures councils and schools run a system that all parents can access equally.

“Councils have a crucial role in making sure that school admissions are fair and transparent, and will take firm action if admissions fraud, which undermines the entire system, is discovered.”