Saturday, 4 July 2009

Cheating to get a school place

Mrinal Patel is the parent who is in the news (3rd July) because she lied to get her child into a school near her mother's house. She said she had lived their for 14 years. She might have done but it wasn't in the last 14 years. The charges have been dropped against her because of a 'legal loophole' and now she thinks her innocence is confirmed. Of course it isn't. Even the commentator on the BBC news feels this could be a green light for those who wish to cheat the system.

No two schools are the same. This is the reason why Mrs Patel and so many other parents want to choose the school for their children. It sounds like a Margaret Thatcher argument but why shouldn't people be able to choose the school for their children? The answer is easy, because we need all our schools to educate all our children. A migration of some children towards better schools means that there is a migration in the opposite direction.

So much effort goes into grading schools in order that parents can have evidence on which to base their decisions to move their children from the local comprehensive schools. Some parents are lucky enough to be able to pay for their children's education. Others are lucky enough to be able to move to the catchment areas of good comprehensives. Those who aren't lucky have to fit in with what is left. So much for social mobility.

Education should be about teaching children to the best of their ability. It looks like it is a lottery. Let's take the emphasis off grading schools and put it into teaching.

Change the world


  1. This has been happening for years, when my middle one went to primary I know of at least one person who put down there in-law's address in order to secure a place at the school in the village where I lived.
    I have seen the negative aspect of this during my time working in schools. In Morecambe there is one primary that I would say suffers badly from the "parental choice" with all the more able children going to other schools nearby. The school in question is not bad, the teachers are dedicated to doing the best they can , unfortunately there job is tough as most of the children that go there are from families where the parents aren't bothered where their children go, so long as they are out of their hair.
    This might sound cynical, but it is from an inside view, and I think it is time children went to the nearest school, and grading schools stopped.

  2. Thanks for your comments Sea. It is interesting to think things through and it is tempting to to stop parents choosing a school. Should there be choice on grounds of religion or specialism e.g a maths and computing college? I live near The Shrimp. All my children have gone through their secondary education but let's say Morecambe High, Heysham High and Our Lady's were all the same distance from my house (one house may be in this position) and I have a child who needs to go to secondary school. How is the school chosen? If it goes off feeder schools then the same problem may arise there. There may be other problems with taking away choice. As a Liberal Democrat I am generally in favour of choice but stopping choice of school is tempting. However, even with no choice you can still get cheats and liars and people who can afford to move house.