Monday was ‘national offer day’, which means that more than half a million parents across England were notified about which primary school their child got into. For most, the news was good, with nine in ten parents securing a place at one of their top three choices. But for some — particularly in London — the offer letters brought disappointment. In Kensington and Chelsea, for instance, just 68.3 per cent got their first choice of school. Not surprising, then, that parents have been resorting to fraud.
In some cases, desperate parents end up spending so much money to game the system it would be cheaper to go private. Mumsnet commissioned a poll which found that 18 per cent of parents admit to buying or renting a house in the catchment area of their preferred school. That can backfire, of course. According to a story on the front page of the Times in 2016, the school in England with the smallest catchment area is Fox Primary in Notting Hill, with parents needing to live within 107 yards of the front gate. Not many can afford to rent or buy in Notting Hill, where the average house price is more than £3 million, but anyone who did so to get their child into Fox’s this year will be disappointed. The school’s governors were so concerned about its privileged intake that they have introduced a lottery-based admissions policy. (To read more, click here.)