Children are missing out on school places because of “a large crack in a system” that lets fraudulent applications go undetected, a Daily Telegraph investigation has found.
Data obtained from the Department for Education and from the 152 local authorities in England – as well as interviews with head teachers – has exposed several holes in the nets meant to catch those falsely claiming a child lives within a school’s catchment area.
In many cases, the policing of this by local authorities is limited to cross-referencing information on applications with existing records, such as the electoral roll or those for council tax.
That may catch those using the addresses of relatives or friends, but not necessarily those prepared to rent a property in a school’s catchment area rather than their actual home.
The Telegraph’s inquiry found some local authorities do not even have a formal policy for dealing with fraudulent applications, while others solely police schools for which they are the admissions authority.
More than one in six of 140 local authorities that responded to freedom of information requests said they do not collate fraudulent applications.
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