School place fraud plan likely to be rejected by Bradford councillors (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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School place fraud plan likely to be rejected by Bradford councillors
A demand for parents to prove their address when applying for school places is likely to be dismissed by councillors next week.
People worried about over-subscription in the district’s schools have called on Bradford Council to ask all parents to provide proof of address when applying for a school place.
But officers have said this can’t be done, and that the number of fraudulent applications is already negligible.
Last month, a meeting of the full Council was presented with a petition signed by members of the public, which urged them to change the way they allocate children to certain schools.
The petition also asked Bradford Council to change the way it measures the distance between a child’s home and a school.
Currently, this is measured ‘as the crow flies’, but the petitioners asked for this to be changed to a measure of the walking distance, which they said was “realistic and more practical”.
The petition said these changes were necessary because of the district’s growing population and the over-subscription of some schools.
The Council referred the matter to the Children’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which will discuss it at its next meeting on Tuesday.
But officers have already flagged up problems with the changes being suggested.
A report by Kath Tunstall, strategic director of children’s services, said the address provided by a family on their application form was already compared with other records and if these didn’t match, the parent was asked to provide proof of address.
It said each year, the Council received more than 20,000 applications and since January 2011, only eight had been fraudulent.
For the 2013 admissions, only two cases had been investigated and no further action was required with either, it said.
On the way the distance to school was measured, the report said: “Straight line distance from home to school is a recognised measurement to be used when determining allocations. It is the fairest and most transparent means of measurement.
“An alternative measurement, ie walking distance, is more open to challenge. For example there may be disagreement as to whether a walking route is safe or unsafe and therefore whether it should be included or not.
“Another example is possible disagreement as to whether the distance could be shortened or not via alleys or through parks etc.”
The committee will meet at City Hall at 5.30pm.
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