Haringey Council to crack down on families who move away after securing good school place

A loophole allowing families to get their children into the most popular primary schools despite living miles outside catchment areas is set to be closed by Haringey Council following complaints from parents and carers.

Families with a child at a Haringey primary school would no longer be able to secure a place at the same school for their other children if they move out of the area under the proposed changes to admission rules.

Parents and carers in Muswell Hill and Crouch End urged the council to take action after repeatedly failing to get their children into primary schools closest to their homes – while families who lived further away secured places by exploiting the loophole in the system.

They have broadly welcomed the proposal for the council to stop prioritising siblings whose families no longer live close to a particular school, which would apply to families where the first child joins the school on or after September 2017.

Former journalist Alex Lyons, of Uplands Road, Crouch End, failed to get her son Oscar into any of her six choices of primary school last year, despite living 250m away from the nearest school, Weston Park Primary. He eventually got into St Mary’s CofE School in Hornsey – a further ten minutes’ walk away – after a bulge class was added to meet the high demand for places.

The 38-year-old mother-of-two said of the change: “It seems fairer to me. I know of people moving after they have got their first child into the school of their choice.”

She added: “I’m really happy with Oscar’s school but it is a shame that we can’t walk there - we often have to get the car home because it’s difficult to get the two boys home. We didn’t get any of our six choices which are all within a mile of us.”

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Currently, siblings of children already at a primary school take priority over other youngsters – even if the family has since moved miles away.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by Crouch End father Andrew Allan found that siblings accounted for about half of all places at two of the area’s most popular primaries – Rokesley and Coleridge.

At Coleridge, more than half of the 64 siblings who received offers of a place in April this year lived further away than any of the children who secured a place based on how close their family lived to the school. And 10 siblings lived more than one mile away.

At Rokesley, it is a similar story. More than half of the 40 siblings who had a place lived further away than any of the youngsters who gained a place based on distance. Mr Allan said: “Wealthy parents can gain a place by renting temporarily next to a school at the expense of those who are on more modest incomes. The best schools, which we all pay for, should not be open to only those who can afford it.”

A Haringey Council spokesman said: “This is something that parents and carers have expressed concerns about, particularly in regard to families who move to an area to gain access to a school and then move out of the area once the place has been secured at the expense of families who do live locally.

“Should this change be made it would help us to ensure that more school places were made available to local families.”