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Primary school application deadline - why 'bending the rules' could spell trouble

Appealing a primary school admissions decision

The deadline for primary school admissions for the school year commencing in September 2022 will expire on the 15th January. A recent survey suggests 1 in 4 parents have ‘bent the rules’ to get their children into a better school.

With the primary school admission deadline approaching this week, many parents have the desire together child into the best school possible at the forefront of her mind.

A recently reported* survey by Zoopla which surveyed a thousand parents with children aged between four and 16 highlighted the following responses:

  • 25% of parents who responded agreed that they bent rules or “played the system” to get their child into a preferred school
  • 17% of the respondents admitted they had lied, bent or broke rules in their application for a school place
  • 7 % considered that they had played the system to their advantage
  • 16% who admitted breaching rules also admitted to making a voluntary donation to the school before a place was offered
  • 5% of the respondents admitted to offering a bribe to admission authorities
  • 27% of respondents to the survey admitted that they exaggerated religious beliefs including attendance at places of worship
  • 20% admitted providing a relatives address which was closer to the school of their preference
  • 10% admitting providing false information about their home address
  • 8% rented a temporary home in a school catchment area

Zoopla’s survey concluded that parents were taking these steps to avoid premium house prices in good school areas which may amount to an average premium of around £83,000 on a house price.

Mike Pemberton, Head of Public Law and Education at Stephensons said:

“It is important to make the application for a school place in good time as missing the deadline can result in the application being considered under the late applications process. In effect, this means that all those applications in time are considered first and there are unlikely to be places left at schools with a good reputation by the time the late application is considered.

If there are valid reasons for the late application for example medical reasons or a change of address then this should be raised with the local authority who may then consider the application with higher priority.

It’s also important to make clear any special educational needs or social needs your child may have as part of your application. There can also be specific criteria for certain schools, for instance maintained schools of faith so it’s worth checking with schools to see if they have any specific requirements in the application process.

The recent Zoopla survey does not really raise any shocking information about the steps that parents will take to try and achieve the best place for the child in school. I would however caution that any false declarations which are made in the admissions process, may result in a school placement being withdrawn and there is also a potential risk of criminal charges being pursued.

In my experience as an educational lawyer and somebody involved in school governance; it is clear that admissions authorities are much more savvy and challenging over the information provided nd will undertake investigations into alleged fraudulent applications.”

For those who have submitted their applications by the deadline of 15th January, a determination should be provided on 16th April 2022.  Decisions on late applications are likely to follow this date.

If you would like to speak to a member of our education law solicitors in relation to a admissions advice or what is involved in an appeal please call us 01616 966 229 or complete our online enquiry form.

*Sky News - A quarter of parents bend rules to get children into preferred school, survey finds