KCC primary school applications process picks up fraudulent applications
More than 200 suspected fraudulent applications for primary school places have been investigated by county education chiefs.
In the last five years Kent County Council has looked into 205 suspect applications - with the council withdrawing the offer of a primary school place in around half of those investigated.
The most common reason for doing so was the use of a false address.
The number represents a fraction of the tens of thousands of primary school applications dealt with by the authority each year, which says it is confident that dishonest applications are being picked up.
Cllr Roger Gough (Con) KCC cabinet member for children’s services, said the authority took the issue of applications seriously and was prepared to act where needed.
But he acknowledged there was no way of knowing if there was a wider problem.
He said: “We try to be quite active and have an established set of protocols and officers to deal with this. We are quite prepared to act where necessary and will withdraw places.
"The numbers are quite small but we have to remember that where this does happen, a child who was entitled to a place at a particular school is losing out.”
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that between 2013 and 2017, KCC withdrew 107 offers of places and investigated a further 98 but took no action.
Of the 107 applications rejected, the bulk - 67 - were for giving a false address with others being withdrawn as the address was not one where the child lived.
In a handful of cases, the address of a second home was provided.
One application was rejected on the grounds that the parents had given false information about their religion.
Giving false information to obtain a place at a particular school is not a criminal offence but does breach admissions regulations.
This year, the council was able to offer more than 97% of children one of their chosen primary schools.
And some 15,426 families have been offered their first preference school, which accounts for almost 90% of all applications.
KCC said it could not provide figures for secondary schools which were responsible for their own procedures for dealing with fraudulent applications.