School admissions Sheffield: Council to investigate two claims of fraud, after allegation surfaces at meeting

Sheffield Council has received four complaints of alleged fraud relating to school admissions this year, two of which are still pending investigation.

By Robert Cumber
Saturday, 11th June 2022, 8:33 am

Details of the complaints emerged after a frustrated parent reportedly claimed at an online appeals meeting this week to be aware of other parents submitting false addresses to get their children into school ahead of more deserving candidates.

One father, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Star that a webinar had been held on Monday, June 6 for parents whose children had failed to get into Silverdale School, in Bents Green, which is the second most oversubscribed school in the city.

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Sheffield Council has received four complaints of alleged school admissions fraud this year, two of which have been dismissed after evidence was submitted and two of which are still pending investigation (file photo: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

He said one parent had claimed during the meeting to be aware of other parents ‘forging the addresses’ to get their children in to their chosen school.

"If this is happening, it’s not fair on parents like us whose children should be getting in. When parents apply for a place they should be asked to provide proof of address like a council tax bills, rather than just relying on information from the child’s primary school,” he added.

The Star contacted Media Chorus Trust, which runs Silverdale School, and it said it follows the admissions arrangements which are managed by Sheffield Council.

“As part of this process, earlier this week, the school was invited to attend an online admissions appeals meeting arranged by Sheffield City Council. Parents and carers who were appealing the decision to allocate their child a place at a school other than Silverdale were also invited to the appeals meeting,” the trust added.

“Under the admission arrangements, Sheffield City Council also manages the response to any allegations of fraudulent applications. Information about the Council’s approach to this is available at www.sheffield.gov.uk/content/sheffield/home/schools-childcare/apply-school-place.

“We are sorry that we do not have the capacity to accommodate all the children who wish to attend Silverdale. However, any queries regarding admissions and the appeals process, or information about alleged fraudulent applications should be directed to Sheffield City Council Secondary Admissions on 0114 2735 790 or [email protected]

There is no suggestion that any school or anyone at the council has acted improperly, nor has any parental fraud been proven at this stage.

Sheffield Council said in a statement: “We’ve received four allegations of fraud this year. Two provided acceptable proof and two are still pending investigation.”

The council said it did not require parents to provide proof of address when applying and was not aware of any authority which does.

"With the checks made at primary schools, it is considered that the authority does make all reasonable checks. Furthermore, parents are required to sign their application as a true record,” it added.

The council also referred The Star to the section in its admissions booklet which states: “The City Council makes every effort to ensure that all school places are allocated in strict accordance with its published admission arrangements. All addresses are checked with your child’s primary school.

“The authority takes the issue of fraudulent applications very seriously. If the authority receives any information alleging that an application has been made fraudulently it will require parents to provide at least two forms of proof to confirm the address.”

Where fraudulent or intentionally misleading information is found to have been submitted, it adds, the offer of a place can be withdrawn.