Head teacher wants new powers to stop catchment fraud

A head teacher from Nottinghamshire has called for greater powers to stop parents getting away with fraud when applying for school places.

Rob McDonough, head of West Bridgford School, said non-residential addresses were being used to claim children live in the area.

Schools can only currently take action if the fraud is spotted before the end of the child's first term.

He wants the rules changed so pupils can be removed at any time.

Nottinghamshire County Council said there were already "adequate mechanisms" in place to deal with fraudulent claims.

Mr McDonough, who is going through new applications ahead of 1 March when places are allocated, said some parents had used family connections and rented properties to get a place at his school.

System 'revised'

He said: "I would like it, if ever we find the original application was clearly fraudulent, (if) that place can be removed irrespective of where we are in the school life of the child.

"For every place that is gained through a fraudulent process there's a child out there that didn't get a bona fide place at the school of their choice.

"They've been cheated out of their place and that simply isn't fair."

John Slater, Nottinghamshire County Council's service director for education standards, said the authority would have to consider the individual circumstances of a proven fraudulent case in order to decide what action would be in the best interests of the child.

"We believe we have adequate mechanisms in place to deal with any fraudulent address claims," he said.

"We will investigate any applications where there are doubts about the information provided and undertake checks to verify that addresses provided by parents are genuine in these circumstances."

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "The revised School Admissions Code is clear that schools have reasonable grounds to withdraw a place if parents have given fraudulent or intentionally misleading information.

"We are driving through a programme of reform to create more good local schools.

"Our revised admissions system will be fairer and simpler and will give greater freedom to successful, popular schools to expand so that more parents get their first choice schools."

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