Last updated August 2013
Fraudulent Admission applications occur for places in both Primary and secondary schools and in every Local Authority in the country, including both Kent and Medway.
I believe this is a growing problem, and what is seen is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The reasons for this are often through desperation, as parents seek either to secure a place at the best school in the area, or a suitable school when faced with unpalatable alternatives. As such, one can understand their motives, but this is grossly unfair to those children and families who play by the rules.
There are now two sanctions which are applied for applicants who are caught out making a fraudulent application. The first is the simple one of cancelling the application which can cause the perpetrator significant problems in securing an alternative place, or else cancelling a place at the school even if the child has taken up a place there. The second is for the Local Authority, or presumably the school Governing Body for a Foundation school or Academy, to initiate a prosecution as happened in two alleged cases in Harrow and Poole. Neither of these were successful for whatever reason, and may have inhibited other Authorities from taking similar action, but the problem remains.
I am regularly approached about this issue and will not advise on how to obtain a place at a school fraudulently. On the other hand, I have successfully supported clients who have found out about a fraudulent application, to see it cancelled to enhance the chances of honest families to secure a place at their chosen school. I am also happy to pass on information on this issue anonymously to the appropriate authorities.
Currently I am aware of only one Admission Authority, the Governing Body of Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar School, which routinely carries out checks on applicants, an initiative I applaud for a massively popular school in an area where it is evident that some families do take out short term leases to attempt to secure school places. However, I anticipate that the practice of attempting to obtain school places by fraudulent means will grow.
The Schools Adjudicator carried out an enquiry into the practice of Fraudulent Admission to schools in 2009. He found some small and medium sized Local Authorities considered they had more than 100 identified fraudulent applications, whilst others, including large LAs, had none. In the same period KCC had 13 reported cases, of which most were dismissed.
I consider Kent has two weaknesses in its procedure. The first lies in its delegation of discovering fraud to individual schools (I beleive most cases of attmepted fraud occur in primary schools), most of which do not have the resources to investigate such issues. The second is Kent's loose definition of place of residence when compared with some other authorities, which I have taken up withthe Council but to no avail.
The most common method of fraud identified is the use of addresses of relatives, the next being the taking up of short term leases or rental agreements on houses with no intention of living there.