FRAUDULENT applications are causing local authorities to withdraw more offers of places at popular schools than ever before, the annual report of the Office of the Schools Adjudicator suggests.
Some parents who are keen to get their children into high-performing schools bought second homes in the school catchment area, or gave a relative’s address. A third ploy was falsely to claim religious affiliation to get a place in a church school, the report says.
Of the 150 local authorities with school-admissions responsibilities, 53 per cent reported cancelling offers last year. A total of 284 places were withdrawn, compared with 186 the previous year. The Local Government Association said that council officers routinely checked applications against electoral rolls and council-tax records.
Fraud relating to applications for denominational places at C of E and RC schools is limited by the usual requirement for a minister’s letter of support. In London and the south-east, where pressure on places is greatest, hearsay accounts abound of parents’ joining congregations to qualify. But the head of schools services in London diocese, Liz Wolverson, said that no withdrawal of places had come to the diocese’s attention.
Last May, however, the Vicar of St Luke’s, Kingston-upon-Thames, the Revd Martin Hislop, announced that he had persuaded the governors of St Luke’s Primary School to abandon church places (News, 5 June).
He said that records kept over several years showed that four out of five parents who joined the congregation ceased to attend church within six months of getting a school place.
Question of the week: Do you know someone who has acted unethically to get a child admitted to a popular church school?