should I grass up the new neighbours?

(175 Posts)
sybilwibble Thu 27-Dec-12 10:40:28

Met the new neighbours at another neighbours drinks party. Lovely mum and daughter, plus granny. Ask Mum, as you do, Where have you moved here from? Her response was that she only lives about a mile away, where they have a lovely family home, now sat empty, but they've rented the house in our road as it's right in catchment for the great local secondary. They've been here a month, and will find out on March 1st whether their dd will get a place (she will) then they will move back in a year.

Granny then tells me seperately, that they will be moving back in March, as soon as they get the letter from the great senior school, as they have not been successful in finding anyone to rent their family home from them. Either way, I'm a bit hmm. My dcs are younger so we're not applying this yr, so doesn't directly affect us...but would feel very sneaky calling the local authority... wwyd?

sybilwibble Fri 28-Dec-12 18:31:33

Just to be clear Chloe 74 there was no second hand conversation or cobbled together hearsay. I spoke directly to the mum and directly to the granny. The only differentiation was the Mum said they planned to stay a year. The granny said they initially planned to stay a year, but hadn't found anyone to rent the house and unless that situation changed tout suite, they'd be back home in March, due to cost of renting. So hardly a mixed up version of hearsay.

tiggytape Fri 28-Dec-12 18:33:32

chloe74 - It is true some people get away with it and others don't. But that is the risk you take if you cheat at anything.
Realistically the vast majority of people are not cheating so people left on the wait lists are going to be people who have unfairly lost out not other cheaters! If you're going to cheat you would make sure you lived close enough for a place not to be relegated to a waiting list!

There are no 'deserving' and 'less deserving' children.
Even the children whose parents cheat are to be pitied - they can spend one term at their lovely new school only to be kicked out when it is discovered their parents rented and then moved back home. Places aren't just removed in March - they can be removed even after the child starts which is hardly fair on the child since it is the parents who lied not them.

And the rich versus poor argument doesn't wash. It is true that rich people can afford to live near wonderful schools. But only rich people can also afford to live in gorgeous houses and then rent additional homes as and when it helps them cheat to get a good school.
Poorer people live on the outskirts of good catchment areas - right on the border where even 2 or 3 cheaters can deprive them of their place. They cannot afford to live near enough for a guaranteed place and cannot afford to rent another home to cheat. They have to rely on the council stamping out cheating so that their places don't get allocated to richer people who rent closer for a few months.

tiggytape I didn't mean moving into catchment, I meant buying a second property to "live" in temporarily while keeping the original main family home. I suppose people who are well off enough to do that must view it as a cheaper option than private school fees. hmm

DoesntTurkeyNSproutSoupDragOn Fri 28-Dec-12 19:51:12

Why is it morally right for rich middle class parents to buy expensive houses in the area of a 'good' school and try and exclude less well off parents. Yet it is morally wrong for a less affluent family to rent in the area to get their child in.

One is fraud and the other isn't. It's really not that difficult to understand.

Perhaps if you have been in the position where your child has lost out to a cheating family or seen it happen to friends, you would feel differently.

Violet77 Fri 28-Dec-12 19:52:09

Report her, she's wrong.... morally and legally. The more people who cheat the system caught the better.

It's appallng that children loose places because people feel "entitled to the best ". Either live in the community or fuck off home.

onedev Fri 28-Dec-12 22:58:38

They actually haven't done anything wrong - if & when they do, then report, but for now mind your own business.

tiggytape Fri 28-Dec-12 23:25:41

onedev - you are right - if they stay living at that address, give up the old house and make this their permanent home then they've done nothing wrong. If they move back to their real home having secured a school place however then that is fraud and if found out they will lose thier place even if their child has already started at the school.

So, as a local parent wanting a school place, would you rather cheaters were dealt with from March onwards leaving you agonising on a waiting list for months or in January when there was still time to rectify things and forego all that stress?
And as a cheater, would you rather the council told you now that they will be withdrawing your offer if you subsequently move back to your real home or leave it until all the other school places have been allocated and then tell you your offer is being taken away and that no other schools in a 7 mile radius have any spaces left?

For local parents it is better not to be stuck on some list whilst suspected cheaters are dealt.
For the cheaters too (especially this family who do have a decent local alternative which they will lose the option of if they are allocated a place elsewhere only to have it withdrawn), it is better to find out now that the council won't tolerate it rather than have the offer withdrawn next Spring only to find all the schools near their 'real' home are too full to take them. People who cheat and get caught late generally end up being allocated a rubbish school miles from home because that's all that's left. People who cheat and get caught whilst applications are still being processed get quietly advised to rethink their application and ammend it to show their real address so that they don't end up in that situation.

prh47bridge Fri 28-Dec-12 23:33:44

Personally I wouldn't wait to report.

The worst possible scenario for this family's daughter is that they get a place at their preferred school but the LA then find out about it after she has started school and remove the place. That will result in her being kicked out of the school after a few weeks and ending up at an unpopular school that may be miles from home as most of the schools near the family home will be full. The family will then be in a much worse position than they would have been if they hadn't tried to use a temporary address.

If the LA finds out about the apparent attempt to cheat the system now they will treat the family as living at their permanent address. That will at least give them a chance of getting their daughter into one of the more popular schools near their family home and will avoid any possibility of her being kicked out of school part way through the first term.

chloe74 Fri 28-Dec-12 23:47:17

It is very very sad that several posters think that they know better than the parents what is best for a child. Why don't you go the whole hog and report them to social services and get the child removed from their care.

Its no-one else's business, its not a criminal offense... what kind of a world are we creating that neighbors report neighbors to the authorities for nothing other than wanting the best for their children.

VivaLeBeaver Fri 28-Dec-12 23:55:58

The kind who is pissed off that because of other people doing this my child isn't at the school which would have been best for her. She's at a crap comp rather than one of the best grammars in the country thanks to twats like this.

onedev Sat 29-Dec-12 00:12:43

I don't disagree Tiggy, but will say again, they haven't done anything wrong & don't think people should be reported / punished for things they may do, but as yet havent done. I'm not in favour of thought police.

SoupDragon Sat 29-Dec-12 08:43:41

It is very very sad that several posters think that they know better than the parents what is best for a child.

Really? I thought posters were saying that it is not fair to lie and cheat to get your child into a school at the expense of another child.

Its no-one else's business

Yes it is. This is not a victimless action is it? If a child whose parents have cheated gets a place, a child with a legitimate claim misses out.

what kind of a world are we creating that neighbors report neighbors to the authorities for nothing other than wanting the best for their children.

An honest one. They don't just want the bes for their child, they want to cheat another child out of a place.

I can only assume that you have either done this or are planning to since you are so vehemently opposed to any suggestion that it is wrong.

prh47bridge Sat 29-Dec-12 10:23:55

Agree with SoupDragon.

These parents are attempting to cheat. What they have said they are doing is clearly and unequivocally against the ruiles. If they succeed they will have cheated another child out of a place that is rightfully theirs. And, as I have outlined above, the consequences for their child could be much worse than if they had not attempted to cheat.

onedev - They may not have done anything wrong as yet (although they may have - some LAs specifically state that if parents own a property but live in rented accommodation they must use the address of the property they own) but they have clearly stated what they are doing. They are attempting to cheat.

The only punishment they will receive if they are reported now is that they are less likely to get a place at their preferred school as the LA will use the family home as their address for processing their application. If the LA doesn't find out about their cheating until after places are offered the punishment will be worse, assuming they are offered a place at their preferred school. They will then lose that place and find that their daughter ends up at an unpopular school, probably much worse than if they had been honest. Even worse, if the LA doesn't find out until after the start of the autumn term their daughter may face the ignominy of being thrown out of school for her parents' actions.

JenaiMathis Sat 29-Dec-12 11:14:57

It's funny how on benefit cheat threads practically every poster cries "report the bastards", yet the first responses on this thread were to keep out of it!

The family in this case are being so blatant they will get caught out. They don't sound terribly well informed, either.

We have children in our village who have missed out on a place at our primary because of people doing this; on that basis I would be giving the LA a call.

Muminwestlondon Sat 29-Dec-12 12:07:26

I think whether OP decides to report them depends on a number of factors...

For example does the LA (like a certain London borough for example) turn a blind eye and by doing so tacitly encourage this behaviour? Is renting specifically mentioned and prohibited in the LA's brochure/school admission information? If so they may well check the council tax information and get them that way.

Is the mother so indiscreet that she has blabbed to all and sundry, so any number of people could have grassed her up or is OP the only one who knows the real reason for the move (has the daughter left her previous primary school)? If not OP might be in a very difficult position.

I must admit that I definitely know of people who did this a few years ago for primary schools and didn't report them. At the time I suppose I thought it was up to the school or LA to catch them out. I would also find it difficult to report a neighbour. Nowadays on balance I probably would report them especially having seen the misery caused when children just miss out on a place.

tiggytape Sat 29-Dec-12 13:17:26

This isn't about social services or snitching or saying what is best for other people's children. It is about a fair way of sharing out limited resources and some people using wealth to cheat this system at the expense of those who are too honest or too poor to buy the same advantage.
This is not O.K and it is the business of everyone who ever uses a community school or knows people that do to ensure this doesn't happen.

From every single point of view, it is better they are caught sooner rather than later. Nothing bad will happen to them - prosecutions for fraud are not brought anymore. Instead the council will simply ammend the form to show their real address and they will get allocated the good school near their home instead of this super school they want.
At the same time, someone else will forego the misery of missing out on a place that was rightfully theirs and not miss out.

If they are caught or reported in March, they will still lose the school place at the school they want but by then there will be no other places left to allocate them. The child whose place they stole will eventually get it back but only after a long wait on the list whilst it is sorted out.

Nothing bad will happen to this family if reported - it will be doing them a favour in fact because I'm sure they'd rather have the chance now to ammend the form and get a good school near their real house than be caught out in March when all other places are full. And if they tell the council they want to remain at the rented address and are selling the family home then they can do that to make their application valid.

This isn't about individuals each quietly doing the best for their child. It affects every single other family who is applying that year. It is about a limited number of school places and some people cheating the system to deprive one child in order that their child gains instead. It is as direct as that which makes it everyone else's concern.

tethersjinglebellend Sat 29-Dec-12 14:16:24

I think a tie-break system of random allocation within broad defined catchment areas as opposed to distance would go some way to address this problem.

tiggytape Sat 29-Dec-12 14:36:16

tethers - you are right. The system is very harsh to many. In London, I know it is perfectly possible to live too far from your nearest 5 schools to qualify for a place at any of them. This is awful as a parent who just wants a local school nevermind about the good, better, best distinctions.

The soaring birth rate has placed huge pressures on school places and caused a lot of stress and misery for parents so there is a case for introducing random allocations (as some areas already do). This brings it's own problems of course: transport issues, siblings and friends split up, less certaintly all round but it is probably a bit fairer and it would discourage cheaters who'd have nothing to gain by renting in a certain street.

SoupDragon Sat 29-Dec-12 14:58:10

Any system with a catchment area will lead to people temporarily moving into catchment in order to cheat.

weblette Sat 29-Dec-12 15:17:14

Our very-oversubscribed local boys' grammar introduced a rule - upheld at legal appeal - about renting when the family has another property within 25 miles. The original address will be considered unless the rental was in use from 18 months prior to the application being submitted. Amazing the impact it's had!

tiggytape Sat 29-Dec-12 15:47:13

weblette - lots of LAs are doing similar or the same. In Merton for example, the wording is very clear as they have problems with oversubscription and popular versus unpopular schools so are keen to warn people off trying this. They say (like much of London):

It is not permitted for a family to use a temporarily rented address to secure a place of their preference. The Council will investigate any cases:
• where there are any doubts
• where information has been received from a school or member of the public to suggest a fraudulent application has been made
• where records show a recent change of address.
The Local Authority reserves the right to seek evidence from parents, Council records, primary schools or any other source deemed appropriate.

People get caught out from tip-offs but the council aren't stupid. Any recent change of address is going to sound alarm bells. Most changes are genuine in which case no further action is taken but if they see children go to a primary school 7 miles away from their 'new rented home' they're going to wonder where they were living before and investigate to see if that home is still owned by the family. If the primary school and Dr has another address on file that isn't the rented one or if a family are paying 2 lots of council tax, the council are going to find out.

Again though - nothing bad happens - they gave up the idea of prosecuting people for this long ago as it is much easier and more effective just to ammend their applications (if caught early) or take away their school places altogether (if caught late). For most people ending up with no school place is deterent enough.

orangeberries Sat 29-Dec-12 16:55:18

I find the idea of the LEA knowing about what people might own and for what purpose really bizarre.

People own buy to let properties, often they end up empty for a little while; people move and leave their house empty, do it up, then let it, or try and sell it but don't manage, get a relative in there for a while. I also know of several people who own a small flat in London and then the family live in a big house miles away. Some people also have to move urgently due to work changes, especially in this climate. The above are all genuine real life examples.

I can't believe the LEA would really go and investigate all these arrangements and really be able to discern whether a family is genuine or not, it seems complete madness to me. The idea that people live for years in the same house and never have to move a mile from a school seems utterly bizarre.

orangeberries Sat 29-Dec-12 17:01:05

PS having endured the utter misery of GENUINELY moving houses 5 miles up the road and not being allowed a place in our local school because our application was 1 month late, I find the system very inadequate for anyone who wants to move when the children are between the ages of 3 and 18!!!

prh47bridge Sat 29-Dec-12 18:36:27

The LA has a variety of ways of finding out what properties people own including council tax records. And they must investigate cases where an application may be fradulent. It is not unknown for councils to ask the neighbours at the address given and watch the alleged home to see if the family is actually living there as well as finding out which primary school the children are attending and looking at various other information available to them. Where there is a history of people renting to get a school place LAs are generally very cautious of anyone using a rented address, especially if they have moved there recently.

prh47bridge Sat 29-Dec-12 18:37:56

And I'm sorry you had a bad experience when you moved house. Yes, it is difficult to get a place locally if all schools are oversubscribed. Short of holding some places back for people moving into the area (which is currently illegal) I don't know how else this could be handled.

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