Loophole allowing parents to rent homes to get places at Camden’s best schools ‘should be closed’
PUBLISHED: 14:00 28 November 2013 | UPDATED: 16:00 28 November 2013
Angry parents have slammed Camden Council for failing to crack down on mums and dads who rent temporary homes to get their children into the area’s best schools.
Tufnell Park parents pleaded with officers to tackle the problem at a review of the council’s admissions policy on Tuesday after they failed to get their children into Eleanor Palmer Primary School.
The Lupton Street school, which is rated “outstanding” by Ofsted, lies just yards away from the parents’ homes.
But a council officer said the local authority would be unable to change the way it looks at admissions, saying it would be unfair on disadvantaged families, who are forced to move around.
Joanne Nathan, 43, and Steve Franck, 43, both of Tufnell Park, said the council should update the policy so that applicants are asked about how long they have been living in their property.
Ex-teacher Mrs Nathan, of Oakford Road, said at the Children, Schools and Families scrutiny meeting: “My child and others’ children were not awarded places at Eleanor Palmer because of the council’s acceptance of temporary rented homes for admissions.”
Mrs Nathan failed to find a place for her son Louis, five, at Eleanor Palmer, as did Mr Franck with four-year-old son Jago.
The local authority has updated its admissions process in the last two months and now states in its 2014 Starting School guide for parents that it will not accept temporary addresses if the applicant still has a property that was previously used as a home address.
But photographer Mr Franck, of Brecknock Road, said after the meeting that the council has not done enough to prevent fraudulent applications.
“We’re not motivated by bitterness and it’s not about an attempt to get into the most wonderful school. We’re happy with the school we were given,” he said. “But all I wanted was to get my son into our local school.”
Mrs Nathan claimed that both Carlton and Brecknock Primary Schools, in Kentish Town, face the same problem.
Andy Knowles, assistant director of inclusion in the Children, Schools and Families department, said: “We take [fraudulent applications] extremely seriously. We have done, I think, everything we should have done to make sure the right processes were gone through.
“We have changed some of the language but we won’t change the admissions policy. There are people who move out of their accommodation as their children are transferring to secondary school or who move into reception and there are legitimate reasons for that.”
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