Local Talk

wait list & parents moving to catchment area to get in

(13 Posts)
claphank Mon 15-Apr-13 12:24:27

Looking for advice here... we've been on the wait list for a primary school since July 2012. We moved to the borough July 2012 (purchased property) and couldn't get a Reception place in our closest school because we registered after January 15. We are currently in a school almost 2km away.

We've been 4th, then 3rd, then 2nd, then 1st on the wait list so eagerly waiting to get in...

Two weeks ago I found out completely by accident that a family rented a flat close to school for just one year, and then they'll move back to inlaws, where they were living before. They are only renting to get their first child in, and make sure 2nd gets a place in the same school. Their in-laws live more than 2 km (!) away from the school so no chance to get in normally, as catchment area was something like 800m last year, and it's normally under 1km.

I found out about this first hand, we have kids in the same class (at a different school) and she was talking about it at drop-off.

Obviously, as a result of this, we went down a place in the wait list... I called the council today and we're now 2nd, down from 1st. We live 600m away from the school.

What would you do in this case? I think it's so unfair what they're doing and I feel helpless...

DonsDrapers Mon 15-Apr-13 12:48:19

Tough one - have the school given a time estimation on when they might offer a place ? If not by the new school year I would be tempted to report it to LA. Sounds fradulent, but I don't know the exact ins and outs.

I think those that do this often get found out by other parents.

Is your current school ok apart from location? I would have to admit I would be happy to travel 2km to get preferred school.

claphank Tue 16-Apr-13 09:24:16

The council manages admission and no, they haven't given any estimate.

The closest school to us - the one we're waiting for - is outstanding and a 5-min walk from home. I don't drive and I work full time, and I'm also a single parent, so the 2km is a nightmare for me. I'm constantly late at work and because of that I pay extra childminder fees afterschool.

The school we're in is ok and we got lucky to have a great teacher in Reception.

BayJay2 Tue 16-Apr-13 10:47:22

Hi claphank, the admissions brochure says on page 7:
"If you move into a property for a temporary period purely for the purpose of school admission, we will use your normal, permanent residence for the purpose of the application".

If you did report it then it would probably be investigated. I don't know what the outcome would be, as for anything to happen the council would have to prove that the relative's address was 'permanent'.

claphank Tue 16-Apr-13 11:36:12

Thanks.

I could 'do the right thing' and report it based on what I heard, but not sure reporting would help us in any way, as the council would have to wait for one year and only if they moved back to in-laws it would look suspicious (but even with that, sometimes circumstances change, they could say it wasn't done on purpose, their income went down or something).

The only thing I would probably achieve with reporting is to cause grief to the family in question, which I don't feel comfortable with... although these parents should know better than trying to cheat like this. To some extent I understand why they do it, as I moved to the area for the good schools, but I am here to stay and I'm playing by the rules.

It's so frustrating, we've been waiting for almost one year (we couldn't register until move in day! with completion papers), got to the 1st position on the list, only to go down because of someone who's playing the system.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Wed 17-Apr-13 09:50:18

Unfortunately it looks as if they are enitled to the place - they have legitimately rented a place for a year and moved in, and who's to say what they'll do in year's time. They probably coudn't have got a rental agreemtn for longer than that, even if they did, it would have a two month break clause afer 6 months, perfectly normal arrangement when rentint.Even if the school investigated, all they would find is a watertight rental agreement, and if they visited would see children's toys etc. Complying with the rules.

Jenny70 Wed 17-Apr-13 10:04:34

Unfortunately it's the rules that suck. We had to wait 2yrs for a place for my DD and she was "bumped" down twice by others moving closer to the school to get it (and then moved away). One of these mums I am friendly with now, and she always feels awkward about it - but I don't blame her, they moved here and rented as close to the school as they could whilst they looked to buy (which turned out to be further than us from the school). She didn't abuse the system, just played by their rules - why would she rent miles from the school she wanted?

It sucks, and it isn't fair.

Personally I think the initial applications should be done on distance, then waiting lists on who joined first. If you live 600m from the school and have waited 8 months, why should someone who lives 599m get a place after 2 weeks (assuming someone left) just because they are closer? Seems mad.

Hopefully by the end of the year a place will come up - my DD got a place 3 weeks before the end of the school year, and it worked great. She settled in, met the kids, had some playdates over the summer, then started this school year not being the "new kid".

Jenny70 Wed 17-Apr-13 10:07:33

Actually, my personal opinion as to what would fix this situation entirely is to eliminate sibling priority at schools.

If you still live close to the school when the younger kids apply, then you get a place. If you've moved away then younger child won't get a place unless there are extra spaces.

The child allocated a place could stay, so if it's your youngest and you move when they are in Yr 5 so older ones have easier access to secondary etc, fine. But getting the first in and then giving siblings priority leasds to this renting and moving phenomenon.

Berilka Wed 17-Apr-13 15:54:47

Hi claphank, I have the same situation with you. We moved from US in december, without knowing the system. We knew we had to be in the catchment area so we rented close to a school we wanted and applied for in year admission. We were on the waiting list 1 and 2 (twins) but after 5 months we dropped down to number 3 and 4 because someone got a sibling priority and the other moved a few steps closer than us. My husband called the council and he openly told them about the people moving closer for a few months just to get a place in the school and they move further (even to other boroughs) after they get their child in the school--so we asked if this was cheating or not? Guess what the answer was " everybody does it, it is normal and it is not cheating so there is nothing we can do about it! " then why do I pay the high taxes if the kids' of people from other boroughs come to my school?
I felt so helpless. How can I make sure to get a place? should I camp outside the school? would that count as an address?

DonsDrapers Wed 17-Apr-13 16:55:44

That must have been very frustrating for you Berilka.

I do wonder if the LA has ever actually acted on a 'fradulent application'. It very much seems like it is 'dog eat dog' sad.

<off to google winnebagos>

BayJay2 Wed 17-Apr-13 19:13:23

"I do wonder if the LA has ever actually acted on a 'fradulent application'."

Actually I think they do take it very seriously. This Evening Standard story from 2008 gives a little bit of an insight. They obviously had a bit of a clampdown that year, but it may be the sort of labour-intensive (i.e. expensive) work that might ebb and flow according to budgetary pressures.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Wed 17-Apr-13 20:31:53

Berilks, if you moved from the US, you are lucky that in the UK you are not charged for schooling. as you would be in, for example Australia.

dilys4trevor Thu 18-Apr-13 10:30:47

She's done nothing wrong. You are right to not report it.

We moved to the area and rented for over a year as we wanted to get a feel for the area before buying. Our school place was a faith one anyway but we are now looking to buy and we will prob move out of the parish, but still attend the school. Not because we are 'playing the system' (why would I want to move really far from my kid's school?) but because we can't find anywhere to buy that is still close to the school. Guess why? Because those houses rarely come on to the market. Because everyone wants to get into the schools and be near the schools. But I don't resent it. We all do what we've got to do. I'll defend myself if I hear anyone saying I have played the system. I would rather stay close but we either buy somewhere now or rent the same place for another year and I want to settle the family. Now I have a trek to school which isn't ideal but that's the way it goes.

So getting a place and then moving is not always for the reasons you may think.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now