School breaks own admissions rules
Robyn Rosen A TOP Muswell Hill secondary school has broken its own admissions code aimed at deterring dishonest parents. It emerged this week that Fortismere, in Tetherdown, has not implemented a new policy which asks prospective parents for more stringe
A TOP Muswell Hill secondary school has broken its own admissions code aimed at deterring dishonest parents.
It emerged this week that Fortismere, in Tetherdown, has not implemented a new policy which asks prospective parents for more stringent proof of address, and is aimed at weeding out those who give false information to secure places for their children.
Broadway can reveal that:
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o More than 20 parents, almost 10 per cent of next year's intake, say Fortismere has not requested the required proofs of address.
o An independent appeal panel in June found the school failed to implement its own policy.
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o A top education lawyer has called the school's actions "unlawful".
Rumours have long circulated about eager parents who rent homes within the catchment area to guarantee a place for their child before leaving them vacant.
In 2007, Fortismere was granted foundation status, giving it the power to set its own admissions policy. And last year governors added a new point to the policy, stating that parents must supply two extra proofs of address, on top of the two required by Haringey council.
The extra proofs must be a current child-benefit letter and a signed letter from a professional person, who is not a relative, confirming that the address given on the application form is the address where the child normally lives.
But Broadway can reveal that more than 20 parents, whose children have been offered places to start this September, have not been asked to provide the extra two items.
One parent, who did not want to be named, has been offered a place for her son, who will start the school in September.
She said: "In the Fortismere prospectus it says that you will be asked for further proof, but I was never asked," she said.
"Friends of my son have been given places who do not live within the catchment and it's outrageous that there are others who do live in the catchment that aren't getting in because of this."
Another parent appealed last month after his daughter was refused a place at the school, which resulted in the independent school admissions appeals panel ruling that Fortismere was at fault in not carrying out the admissions procedures as published.
"We ask that the school deny places to those children who cannot produce these proofs of address," the father said. "It might mean that children who are genuinely part of the local community would not be deprived of their rightful places at the school."
John Ford, a leading education solicitor, said that the school's failure is unlawful and that all offers should be reconsidered.
He said: "In my opinion there is a legal case for arguing that the failure to follow its own procedure made the actions of the admission authority unlawful and that it is possible that a dissatisfied parent could apply to the High Court asking for the admission arrangements to be re-run."
Aydin Onac, headteacher at Fortismere, declined to comment on whether the school had broken its policy.
He said: "Fortismere governors recognise that it is of paramount importance that local families are treated fairly over admissions. We are committed to serving primarily our local community and the distance criterion helps to ensure this. In addition to following our own policy we also try to be vigilant on behalf of local families. We are grateful for any information we receive about those who try to slip through the net and, despite limited resources, we try to follow these up with additional enquiries.