Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Families caught in school catchment fraud in Edinburgh

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Twenty four families have lost their school places for the 2016/17 session after being caught giving false statements to get their children into Edinburgh schools.

Officials uncovered 13 catchment frauds at high schools with 11 at primaries.

City of Edinburgh Council said it had stepped up its campaign to target catchment fraud at "popular" schools.

The figure of 24 families is up from six last year. James Gillespie's High School was top of the list.

It had seven places refused.

Places withdrawn

In total the council's fraud team carried out 1,500 checks which included all potential S1 places at three of the city's most "popular" high schools.

Officials said it resulted in the offer of places being withdrawn with other families dropping their requests once they discovered they were being investigated.

In several cases families were also found to be fraudulently claiming council tax benefits and were forced to repay money.

Fraudulent examples included a family living in a neighbouring authority trying to get their child into a city primary, another claiming they lived at an address four miles from their targeted primary school, parents making up false leases and others claiming to live at properties that were being rented to students.

Paul Godzik, City of Edinburgh Council's convener of education, children and families, said: "We know this is an issue that concerns many parents and we take it very seriously.

"We warn parents every year that we are actively looking into catchment fraud and if we believe there is a possibility that fraud is being committed we will investigate.

"If we discover this to be the case we will withdraw the school place."

When registering for a school place for the first time, parents need to provide a council tax demand notice and recent utility bill.

If someone is moving house they need to provide proof of purchase and their tenancy agreement.

If they are moving to a different Edinburgh address they also need to provide proof of sale or termination of lease.

When pupils move from primary to secondary school they are allocated a place based on the current address information held by their school.

Officials said spot checks are carried out to ensure it is accurate.

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