Kentish Town columnist Giles Coren rants against Camden parents who rent homes to win school places
PUBLISHED: 12:48 07 September 2015 | UPDATED: 16:37 07 September 2015
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Kentish Town columnist Giles Coren has launched a venomous diatribe against parents who rent temporary homes to secure top state school places – after his daughter failed to win a place at schools just 300 yards away.
The Times journalist said he has been forced to send his four-year-old daughter Kitty to a private school because she failed to get a place at her two local schools.
She is 14th on the waiting list for a place at her nearest school – just 200 yards away from the family home.
“Meaning that, in theory, there are 43 four-year-olds living between us and the school,” Mr Coren wrote in his weekly column on Saturday. “Except there aren’t. Do you know how many there are? None. Although maybe five or six on the other side of the school.
“The rest of those 43 children live in Hampstead and Highgate and Dartmouth Park, with self-righteous lefty parents who quietly rented a room over the hairdresser across the road from the school in the application year.”
Mr Coren, who has lived at his Kentish Town address for more than 20 years, claims that in certain parts of north London, it is now cheaper to send a child to private school than to secure a place at an over-subscribed state primary.
He goes on to accuse some parents of renting homes to secure state school places in order to avoid their children being made pariahs later in life for having a private education.
He warns: “But do not go thinking, you po-faced pocket-pickers, that this is democracy. Or that your child is getting a representative experience.
“You are doing poor kids out of school places and homes. You are making local schools selective on income by the back door.
“And you are destroying the very notion of a local school by coring out catchment areas and then abandoning them.”
He labelled parents who manipulate the school system in this way as “lying, cheating, hypocritical, Guardian-reading, middle-class, north London, Corbynite scum”.
In 2013, angry parents attacked Camden Council at public meetings for failing to crack down on parents who rented temporary homes to win school places at popular Eleanor Palmer School in Tufnell Park.
The school is rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.
In response, Camden Council revised its admission policy last year to state that it will not accept temporary addresses if the applicant for a school place still has a property that was previously used as a home address.
Cllr Angela Mason, cabinet member for children, said: “We do not comment on individual cases, however Eleanor Palmer is one of the most over-subscribed in the borough.
“We have already stated our aim of tackling abuses of the school places system and a particular area of concern is parents moving to temporary accommodation to secure a school place.
“Where we suspect fraud we carry out formal investigations and if confirmed we withdraw offers and re-allocate them to children who meet the genuine criteria for places.
“I hope that this sends a message to parents and guardians that we will are serious about giving everyone equal and fair access to places but that they have to be honest about their situation.
“Applications for school places in September 2016 have just opened and if you know someone who intends to or has used a false address to get a school place, you can report this confidentially to us 020 7974 1625 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.”