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Incredible shananigans to get kids in chosen schools?

(136 Posts)
granjura Mon 24-Aug-15 18:41:41

On the news tonight- at least 10% of school applications are fraudulent. Certainly in all my 39 years in the UK, I watched some incredible things happen to get kids into chosen schools.

So what is the answer?
And what is the worst examples you've witnessed?

For me it was grand parents buying a flat in the catchment area of chosen school for DD, so GCs could go to a certain school- and DD and GCs pretending to live there for about 6 months, whilst living most of the time in their house elsewhere then selling at high profit. And of course all those who suddenly became 'very religious' just long enough.

granjura Mon 24-Aug-15 19:28:55

documentary now on BBC1

Alea Mon 24-Aug-15 20:21:15

I think we've all been aware of this type of thing for some time. Renting a flat or house in the catchment area/using a granny's address,/becoming regular chirchgoers etc but honestly most schools are wise to this and generally look at the application with more common sense. Church attendance is no longer an adequate criterion!

Alea Mon 24-Aug-15 20:22:11

typoblush CHURCH of course.

GillT57 Mon 24-Aug-15 20:46:41

I think that rather than asking why and/or prosecuting parents for being dishonest in their school applications, local authorities should be asking why parents don't want their children to go to certain schools. If all schools were good, then nobody would go to the levels described of moving temporarily into catchment areas or suddenly 'finding God'. And, as we are all in this together and are supposed to be responsible parents, why are some being pilloried for going to extraordinary lengths to get their child into what they feel is the best school for them? Since when has that been an offence?

janerowena Mon 24-Aug-15 21:03:42

It's not a new thing, I can remember my parents going to church every week with a sister to get her into a very good church school when she failed her 11 plus. I was at the grammar school, and they didn't want her to go to the local secondary modern, which had a dreadful reputation, and potentially feel inferior to me.

merlotgran Mon 24-Aug-15 22:13:11

We moved DD2 to a primary school in the catchment area of the secondary school we wanted her to go to as her brother and sister were already there. We were told it would not guarantee her a place so as my mother lived opposite the primary school we would have used her address had it come to that.

This was in the eighties and out of three possible secondary school, two were absolutely dire so we were not prepared to chance her future.

Fortunately, she was given a place.

Charleygirl Mon 24-Aug-15 22:20:16

Neighbours of mine rented in the desired catchment area for a year while renting their property here to offset costs.

They have now bought a house in that area but are still renting the one close to me. They are fortunate to have the money because the area they moved to is very expensive.

durhamjen Mon 24-Aug-15 22:53:34

I watched the programme, and felt very sorry for the mother who wanted her child to go to the church school that she had gone to, connected to the church that she had been to all her life.
Her child was allocated to a school that was fourth choice. The vicar knew that other people would stop going to his church once the allocations had been made. He had a spread sheet which showed it from previous years.
I wondered if there was an element of racism in it.

thatbags Tue 25-Aug-15 07:12:05

I didn't watch the programme but it never ceases to amaze me that this happens. I've never had to do anything to get a child into a school except let the school know the child existed and lived in its catchment area, even after Thatcher brought in the greater choice hoo-ha that has certainly helped, if not created, this nonsense.

Just thought I'd mention that because the subject keeps recurring and I keep wondering what proportion of the population are affected. Does anyone know?

Stansgran Tue 25-Aug-15 07:21:59

GillT hits the nail on the head. Why should parents be pilloried for doing what they feel is best for their child when local councils aren't doing their best for the children? You only have to read Gillybob's horror stories about the school her DGCs go to.

J52 Tue 25-Aug-15 07:25:30

50+ years ago I went to the primary school shown, in Hammersmith. It only took 30 pupils each year, way back then. The 4 junior classes were vertically grouped, that is mixed age classes according to ability. It was brilliant then, a lovely caring atmosphere, with a formal emphasis on English and Maths.
If I remember correctly, almost 100% passes in the 11+.

I was very lucky, it was a great start in education. A pity all schools are not small like this one, I think that is its success.


thatbags Tue 25-Aug-15 08:36:52

There is that, stansgran and gillt, but the other side of that coin could be that if parents all sent their kids to the school, or one of the schools, most local to them, those schools would improve because they would have more pushy (in a good sense) parents wanting the best for their kids. If the more middle-class parents always 'opt out' of what would be their natural local school, they skew the intake and leave the schools they avoid at a disadvantage.

Stansgran Tue 25-Aug-15 08:46:53

Here in Durham if you live next to the main school Durham Johnson you may not get your child in as they are expected to take quotas from the outlying villages. It doesn't work in London either as the nearest school to a friends grandchild is oversubscribed.

durhamjen Tue 25-Aug-15 11:27:19

You are talking about high school Stansgran. The programme was about primary school, and parents trying to rent a flat to get their child into a better school.
They had to have people going round checking at night to find out where the families really lived.
I agree with bags. If everyone went to their local school, the parents would ensure that the schools improved.
That is the same for secondary education.
That's why I think all schools should be community schools, but that's another thread.

Nandalot Tue 25-Aug-15 12:12:41

Only caught the end of the programme so probably very biased and unfair reaction to it. Like you, Durhamjen, I wondered about racism for the poor parent who had such strong connections with the school and church but didn't get a place. I was pleased for the other family but felt they were a little smug when I saw the school cap and champagne.

I can sympathise with parents wanting to do the best for their children. We need to make all schools places where children can get a good education. I know it is not all about money, but I feel that if the money that is being thrown at the free schools was put into decreasing class sizes, particularly in primary, that would help.

TriciaF Tue 25-Aug-15 15:18:43

My job involved visiting a big range of schools, in fact I must have visited all the schools in Hull at one time.
What was noticeable was that in the "religious " (C of E and RC) schools there was a calmer, more workcentred atmosphere ie the discipline was better. We had hardly any behavioural referrals from them.
You might call that a kind of racism, but it was a fact.

thatbags Tue 25-Aug-15 16:02:58

None of the three primary schools my kids went to (Edinburgh, nr Oxford, Argyll) were religious schools. They all had very good discipline.

thatbags Tue 25-Aug-15 16:03:21

And a good 'work ethic'.

thatbags Tue 25-Aug-15 16:04:12

And no, what you said isn't racism. It may be otherwise prejudiced but it's not racism.

Luckygirl Tue 25-Aug-15 16:26:16

OK - here are the solutions:

1. Get rid of faith schools completely then all this nonsense of going to church to get a place at school for your child would stop in an instant.

2. Make ALL schools good schools so parents would not have to go through all this stuff to get a good education for their children, and the councils could save money on employing snoopers.

The system brands as criminals parents who are only trying to do the best for their children, when they are forced into it by the lack of good schools in their area.

It is all a bit of a mess. I feel for the parents and of course for the children.

Nonnie Tue 25-Aug-15 16:38:21

We moved into the right catchment area for the vest schools and paid a premium price for the house. I don't see anything wrong with choosing to spend our money on that rather than something else.

It is all very well having principles about making all schools good schools but that takes time and when it us your own child you don't want to take a risk. Ask Diane Abott

thatbags Tue 25-Aug-15 16:43:28

I don't have a problem with that view, nonnie. Parents have to make the best use, as they see it, of the system that is in place at the time when they use the system. What is wrong is that they should be forced into extraordinary measures such as 'joining' a church. Change does take time but we're not doing the best we can to change things for the better.

thatbags Tue 25-Aug-15 16:44:46

By 'we' I mean successive governments. The Labour government is as guilty as the Conservative one on this issue.

Luckygirl Tue 25-Aug-15 16:53:33

I do agree that in the short term you have to do the best for your children as they only get one crack at it - but in the long term more should be done to support schools and teachers so that all schools become good schools. At the moment that is not happening - we have teachers battling against micro-management from above, endless changes of policy and reams of paperwork, all of which detract from the central desire to provide a good education. I really do take my hat off to teachers - they do an amazing job against the odds. How much better it would all be if support rather than investigation and mistrust were the order of the day.

Our third child went to a church school - it was the best around. She got in because of our musical contributions to local churches, not because of our beliefs. I had no conscience over that - I wanted the best for her, as all parents do.