Parents are using ‘dubious’ strategies to get their children into good schools

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  • Getting your children into a good school is of course one of parents' main priorities, but strategies to get them in are now getting more and more 'dubious', according to a new report.

    The Sutton Trust, a charity that aims to improve social mobility, used data from a YouGov survey of 1,017 parents of school-age children to reach their conclusions, and warn that parents are using fraudulent strategies to get their little ones into their preferred schools.

    Researchers found that almost one in three (30 per cent) of parents from higher socioeconomic backgrounds ‘personally knew a parent who used ethically dubious strategies’.

    These ‘dubious’ ways to get their children into good schools included buying or renting a second home in a catchment area, or using a relative’s address to gain access to a particular school. Both of these strategies are potentially fraudulent and could potentially result in the child’s application to the school being withdrawn.

    Reports by the Office of the Schools Adjudicator show that 267 offers were withdrawn on the basis of fraudulent applications in 2015-16, with 75 local authorities reporting concerns.

    As well as using dubious techniques, more affluent parents are also using other legal strategies such as moving to different catchment area with better schools, and paying for private tutors so their children do well in entrance tests – which puts children of mddle class and professional parents in clear advantage.


    The report reads: ‘Parents in higher socioeconomic groups were much more likely to report a variety of strategies to gain access to their preferred school, such as moving to an area with good schools or to a specific catchment, along with employing private tutors for entrance tests.’

    The survey also found that local reputation is one of the main things parents consider when they’re picking a school for their children (93 per cent), as well as meeting the particular needs of the child (92 per cent), and proximity to the home (83 per cent).

    Speaking about the report’s findings, Sir Peter Lampl, founder of the Sutton Trust and chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: ‘Parents from all backgrounds and walks of life want to do the best for their children. Those with money, education and confidence are more able to give their children the best possible chance of succeeding.

    ‘Middle class and professional parents gain an advantage for their children at every turn. However, there are some practical measures that can be taken to level the playing field, such as fairer school admissions and providing tuition to those who can’t afford it.’

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