Graveney - Renting in catchment for admissions purposes

(307 Posts)
StockwellLiving Thu 07-Jun-12 17:31:16

I am thinking about renting for a 12 month period or so from this summer to cover up to beginning of Y7 for DD in Sept 2013. And then moving back out.

I know (most people think) renting is wrong (and often discussed here). I actually also think its wrong, but I also know others do it (and not sure why we should be the only one not "playing the game", and I do want to avoid my local catchment school (have no religion, no money (for indies), average DD with no chance of her passing selection tests).

I am not starting this thread to get into the rights and wrongs of it - I only want to ask the very specific question: Do "renters" get caught and are places actually withdrawn?

I am asking about Graveney, not in general. I know from threads on MN that some LAs do try and look into short-term renting. But somehow I think that this particular school and this particular LA don't really care (happy to have aspirational middle classes moving into catchment) ...... so do they look into whether the rental is permanent or not, whether the renters have an owned (proper) home (rented out for a year)

Just wondering as it seems its increasingly popular to do this ....

tiggytape Thu 07-Jun-12 23:27:14

Merton has a specific rule that you cannot rent for the purposes of school admissions.

When you apply the council will request your council tax form and run checks to make sure you own no other properties (you are allowed of course to own other properties but then they will check if the address registered at Primary School matches the one on your application form - which it won't)

And then your application will be rejected.
I guess if there was some way of renting right now and getting the address at the Primary School changed before the end of term you might just manage it but basically no, Merton do not welcome middle class aspirational people cheating to get a school place and the combination of Council Tax history and primary school records will quickly show what you are up to. Merton are hotter on the issue than most other boroughs in fact.

bibbitybobbityhat Thu 07-Jun-12 23:29:04

You are very cowardly aren't you?

I hope they do look into it and offers are withdrawn.

They do it for our selective, you have to live within a certain postcode, before you can even take the test, many parents rent in catchment, they get caught by various ways, owning another property, going to primary schools 90 minutes away, using grandparent address

And offers are quite rightly withdrawn.

tiggytape Thu 07-Jun-12 23:35:04

Not sure who that is aimed at bibbity but I came back to tell the OP the rule Merton has in its admission policy:
"It is not acceptable for a family to use a temporary address, rented or otherwise, to secure a place of their preference"

Not many boroughs spell it out like that but Merton does as they have massive pressure on places. And the reason you don't hear of loads of people getting caught is that it happens quietly between the forms being submitted in October and places being allocated in March. There are no big prosecutions or anything, the council will simply tell you that they do not believe the address you claim as your home is actually your permanent home for admissions purposes and they tell you they won't be using it to make an allocation from there.
I am not saying nobody gets away with it - that will always be the case but a 1 year rent in one of the stricter boroughs is probably a high risk strategy.

LocalSchoolMum Thu 07-Jun-12 23:42:24

I don't think it's a great idea, especially as your DC will have to commute to school once you move back, but I personally know 2 families who did it and I think you're right - the school is perfectly happy with this arrangement. It cuts down on their local families who may have chiildren who won't reflect well in league tables. My ds goes to our nearest school, can get there in 10 mins and is thriving, but if you're afraid of mixing with the locals, go for it. You're unlikely to be caught out.

Oh yes silly me, god forbid local children should go to local schools.

As for being afraid of mixing with the locals, what the actual fuck ?
Are you for real??

Surely that's a wind up?!?

wimbledonian Thu 07-Jun-12 23:47:13

Tiggytape, Graveney falls under Wandsworth rather than Merton. I don't know what the Wandsworth admissions policy is like, though.

basildonbond Fri 08-Jun-12 04:32:13

In answer to the op's specific question, as things stand at the moment, then no, you won't get caught. We know several people who've done this - there's one street locally which is known as the Graveney rentals street as there are so many houses rented out for 12 months.

However, a few things to think about....

Wandsworth is changing its admissions criteria so that the 'catchment' area for all schools will change - we are currently in the Graveney catchment (i.e would get in on distance) but are not sure how we will be affected in future.

Graveney is now an academy so might change the way it does things in future so just because people have got away with it in the past is no guarantee that you will in the future

Is Graveney the right school for your child? To be honest, I wouldn't want a child of mine in middle and even the upper classes can be quite disrupted - extension classes seem to be very well behaved and they go through subjects at a frenetic pace - but you say your child isn't academic enough for extension. It's very much two schools in one building. It's also huge and so individual opportunities can be quite limited (e.g. Access to school trips etc) and the classrooms are small and quite cramped. My ds's Y7 class has 33 children in and I don't know how they manage to squeeze them into some of the rooms. Graveney was the right school for my ds as he's in extension and made the transition with all his friends from the local primary and it's a 5 minute walk round the corner, but it's not the right school for everyone.

Finally, you would be taking a place away from a local child - you say you don't want to get into a debate about the morality of your decision but there's no getting away from the fact that its WRONG! If you're so desperate for your dc to go to Graveney, why don't you come and live in Furzedown permanently? It's a lovely area and then you could contribute to the life of the community rather than parachute in for a year

didofido Fri 08-Jun-12 06:05:59

It really makes me cross that people say that it's wrong! As a parent your duty is to do whatever you reasonably can to ensure the best for your child. The OP pays the same taxes as anyone else and is entitled to the best state school to which her DC can gain admission.
I have a brother, an atheist, who lives in an area where to get into a good school you must, he says, 'pay or pray'. He's politically opposed to private education so they have been going to church for the last 18 months. It worked. and DD1 is off to the church comp this Sept. Now the problem is - keep up the church -going for DD2 or rely on the sibling policy...
I am a regular church-goer who uses indies where I can and it amuses me.

Needmoresleep Fri 08-Jun-12 07:38:04

I'm with dido here. With kids now in Secondary there are very few I knew from playgroup days who can claim much moral high ground. It has been pay, pray, tutor, rent or move.

I know of at least half a dozen who rented, including within the Graveney catchment. It is a big disruption to family life but I dont know anyone who regrets their decision. I also dont know anyone who was "caught".

Dido's post made me laugh. I knew one couple who went to church to get that school place and ended up devout pillars of the parish.

Perhaps that is what deterred my husband. We paid instead. Worked for us as we were never that bothered about new cars etc. But just as unacceptable in MNland.

meditrina Fri 08-Jun-12 07:47:05

It's Wandsworth, not Merton, and they don't have catchments (it's straightforward distance to the school). The admissions footprint is tiny all properties that close to the school will have a hefty premium.

It'll probably be (fractionally) easier to get into Graveney (assuming Bolingbroke does actually open).

But how are you planning to explain to DD what you are thinking of doing, both in terms of integrity and in terms of separating her from all her primary school friends?

FrankWippery Fri 08-Jun-12 08:05:17

Firstly it's Wandsworth. Secondly they absolutely do care and thirdly they have cracked down heavily on this in the past few years.

And, of course, proximity to the school is last on their list for criteria. Unless of course your child is one of the 67 who gets an amazing score in the Wandsworth test.

Not forgetting also, of course, that there were 2,006 applications for 240 places.

whyme2 Fri 08-Jun-12 08:06:36

Your tale about your brother made me laugh dido He is politically opposed to paying but not morally opposed to lying. How did he work that one out?

As a parent you also have a duty to teach your Dc right from wrong, morals and ethics, not "I don't agree with the rules so I will lie and you, FB must also lie and pretend we live in the area"

*dc, not FB obviously smile

dexter73 Fri 08-Jun-12 08:42:57

That made me laugh too whyme2!

creamteas Fri 08-Jun-12 08:53:26

didofido it is wrong because it means that those with resources can take state provided opportunities they are not entitled to and deprive others of them. It is no different in moral terms to me as benefit or tax fraud and I really wish it would be treated the same in law.

Seeing a few parents threatened with prison for making false statements on their admissions forms might bring some sanity back to the whole issue.

I totally agree with it being on a level with benefit fraud etc.

If you know from year 4-5 that you do not like your local schools then FFS make a conscious decision to move into the area AT THAT TIME. Become part of the community, make friends in the area, commit to living there because you feel it's best for your Dc

Otherwise it is fraud, pure and simple.

janinlondon Fri 08-Jun-12 09:32:16

Am ignoring entirely the question of moral rights and wrongs, and also whether this is the right school for your child. I know of people who did it two years ago for Graveney. They rented out their own house (only a few streets away) and the entire family moved to live in a flat. I also know of families who have swapped houses in adjacent streets for two years to get into Graveney. But I think you may have missed the boat - the rental people usually get in well before the 1 year mark. It is big business. I doubt it will continue much longer.

gazzalw Fri 08-Jun-12 09:48:50

It's simply not fair - we live close to Graveney but not quite close enough to get a place on distance. DS did the exam and did very well but it was his fourth choice so he didn't get a place. It is a highly emotive issue and you may find that someone 'shops' you anyway. Just because other people do it doesn't mean it's right!

I think you need to move lock, stock and barrel or grit your teeth and do the test for selective entry.

Why not move to Sutton where all the schools are generally better than they probably are in your neck of the woods?

Ladymuck Fri 08-Jun-12 09:52:37

What would you plan on doing with your current property?

Given how fluid the rental property market is in London, if you already rent, then what you're thinking of is fine, provided you can afford a local rental. And are happy to accept the risk that it still won't get you a place. Unless you are getting a council or housing association tenancy then no rental is "permanent" in that sense.

If you own, are you selling? If not, then you will have a much harder job to prove that what you are doing is a legitimate relocation. As a minimum you would need to ensure that you were no longer responsible for council tax on your owned property. It only takes a few minutes to check an applicants address for primary school, and check whether they are still paying council tax.

I know plenty of families who are selling up when their dcs are in Year 5 in order to give them the flexibility they need in finding a suitable location for secondary schools.

StockwellLiving Fri 08-Jun-12 10:00:19

Thanks for your comments.

tiggytape: Thanks, Graveney is in Wandsworth. Graveney/Wandsworth – I think (hence my post) doesn’t check any of the stuff which Merton does. I certainly can’t see in their admission policy a statement such as that which you quote for Merton. "It is not acceptable for a family to use a temporary address, rented or otherwise, to secure a place of their preference". So I’m not even sure (despite the morality question) whether there would be a lie on the form. At the time of application the rental property would be our home.

LocalSchoolMums: but the commute we would have is no worst than many others in London who avoid catchment schools to go private, religious or selective. Yes, agree that my sense is that Graveney doesn’t care it is happening.

tantrums, most MNs participating in this forum (ducks and waits for volley) want to avoid kids from the estates and so on – if they are honest. Just look at most of the threads (mostly all about indies, or selectives, and other “desirable” schools”). It will be dressed up as “what’s best for my DC”, “great academic results” (ignoring that that is largely a reflection of intake), “he/she is really a sensitive soul and needs great pastoral care”, “so gifted”, and so on... but in reality it is all just trying to get kids into a school with similar kids. And that is just what we are about: we want our DC to get to a nice middle class school for any of those reasons. But again – not really wanting to get into any of that on this thread. Lets start another one!

basildonBond - thanks. Curious about Wandsworth admissions change – any one know more? But in any case as Graveney is an academy, it sets its own criteria (I believe). (I was a little modest when I said DD was not bright – I think she has a good chance of getting into the top set – but the 98% pass mark to do get through on the test – does seem like a bit of a lottery. But even if I move permanently, I would still be taking a place away from someone who is already local

didofido, NeedMoreSleep: agree!

meditrina: I think as quite a few people are doing it (and it doesn’t seem to be lying – as mentioned it would be our “home”) – it is an easy explanation: we moved to get into the school. The school allows this..... (as I think is the case – hence my starting this thread to see whether that is right).

FrankWippery - ah so maybe I’m wrong and they do care/check! You seem the only person so far to have said so – do you know of people who had places withdrawn. Where they people who genuinely moved (albeit only for a year – changed council tax, primary school address etc) or people that simply rented an address with no real living there?

janinlondon - thanks. Interesting that they only moved a couple of streets!! So they are still contributing to the community by doing the rental thing. (pace tantrums). Why do you think it won’t continue much longer?

gazzalw - agree none of this is fair. Do you know of people who have been “shopped” and places removed? (We will try the test of course as well.)

All who expressed disapproval or indeed any who think it’s not wrong : as I said, I didn’t particularly want to get into the rights or wrongs of it, it is often discussed. I am only interested in the question posed in the OP.

As a parent of a kid from an estate well 3 of them actually, you would find it difficult to avoid my eldest 2 who are at selective schools.

Dc3 being less academic will go to the state secondary in 2 years, in an area we live in, even though there may well be better middle class schools as this is where we live.

But just for the record 3 pupils at ds1s school took the test, got good enough results to go onto second stage but got place withdrawn due to renting in catchment.

tiggytape Fri 08-Jun-12 10:08:38

Apologies - my geography is wonky!
As it happens though, all applications, even for academies, go through the local councils. Graveney don't get involved at all with checking addresses or spotting false applications so they have no discretion to turn a blind eye even if they wanted to. The authority is totally responsible for all of that.

If people are cheating to get a place it is because the local authority is not doing a good enough job of weeding out false applications it is not because Graveney embrace the policy. All councils have the ability to check council tax history and enquire at your current Primary School which address your child was registered under. All school applications give the name of your current primary school which, if you're cheating, may be a suspiciously long way away and merit closer investigation. If the LA isn't picking up on this then you may well get away with cheating but of course, the more people that have got away with it to date, the more likely they are to spot the problem and have a crackdown.

It happened in Merton which is why I had thought of it. People get away with cheating until suddenly the catchment areas are ridiculously small, parental complaints are through the roof and the LA are scratching their head wondering how come so many children are without a school place and where all these extra children appeared from anyway. So then the next year they clamp down on it.
You may be lucky though, the situation of allowing this may continue. Under the admission rules of Wandsworth it is not allowed because it states clearly you must use your permanent address so if you get caught you would have the place withdrawn but it is up to you whether you think Wandsworth will miss these checks for another year or another two years or however long it takes to get in.

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