Sometimes, getting a place for your child at your first choice of school can be a postcode lottery and missing out can cause significant anxiety. Every school has its own unique admissions criteria, published on their respective websites, which consider various factors, including the catchment area or the distance of the child’s home from the school. But what happens if you move out of the area during the school application period? Are you legally obliged to inform them? What happens if you don’t? This article answers these questions and more.
Do I have to prove my address for a school admission application?
When applying for a school place, you must use your child’s permanent address. So, you should not use the child’s grandparents’ address or any other relative who is in the schools catchment area unless the child lives there permanently. When you apply for a school place, you will be asked to provide at least two different forms of proof of address, such as:
- Council Tax bill for the current year
- A copy of the tenancy agreement if you are renting
- A copy of a benefits letter (date within the last 12 months)
- TV licence
- Utility bill dated within the last three months
- Copy of your child benefit letter
- Copy of child tax credits letter (Universal Credit)
Is it illegal to move house during the application and not inform the school?
As stated previously, the address you give on your child’s application for a place must be their permanent place of residence. There is typically a cut-off date by which you must have moved into any new home for that address to be used in the school application. If you move during the application process, you will need to provide the local admissions authority (council or school itself) with proof of your new address. It is not sufficient to change your address on your online application, you must provide the documentation to prove it. This could be a solicitor’s letter confirming the completion date, a signed tenancy agreement, or any other evidence that you have severed ties with your former home.
What is considered a fraudulent school application?
It can be tempting to game the system when the school in your area is oversubscribed, but admissions authorities are increasingly catching parents out. Examples of a fraudulent application include:
- Renting a property close to a school but retaining your former property
- Applying from a relative’s address but remaining living in your former property
- Renting close to a school but moving out before the child’s start date
How do schools check application addresses?
Local authorities have investigators who look into allegations of improper school applications. They use a variety of methods, such as cross-referencing applications with council tax records or the electoral roll, spot checks on addresses, and sometimes looking on social media for evidence of a different address. Some cases of fraud are found out via random checks, while others act on tip-offs from other parents. According to recent research, there are around 21 schools in the UK who don’t check applications at all, or have no formal process for checking.
What happens if I get caught out lying on the school application?
The Department for Education states they will “take action where appropriate” if they find out address fraud has taken place. But the likelihood is that the child’s place at the school will be withdrawn. This applies even in cases where the child has already started school, so you should weigh up the potential consequences of your child attending your first choice of school with the risk of them having to leave a school they’ve settled into and made friends.
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