Fraudulent application fury over Potters Bar school

PUBLISHED: 08:31 26 March 2013 | UPDATED: 08:31 26 March 2013

Dame Alice Owen's School

Dame Alice Owen's School

Archant

A FUMING Potters Bar headteacher has berated superiors in the Government and County Council for stopping him refusing fraudulent applications to his school.

Dr Alan Davison, headteacher at Dame Alice Owen’s, reacted to the claim that rich outsiders have been buying up or renting houses to be in the catchment area for 22 school places set aside for local children.

It comes after figures revealed the school was the most oversubscribed in the county for the upcoming school year.

Mum Mandy Stevens said she had tried unsuccessfully to get all four of her children into the oversubscribed school, and had failed each time despite living “700 metres” from the school gates.

She told the Potters Bar Edition: “The same houses come up for rent and the same wealthy people rent them, taking the 22 places that are supposed to be for our local children.

“Local residents have people knocking on their doors asking to rent their houses or buy, it’s an absolute joke.

“Over the years the school has done very little to stop this behaviour and the knock-on effect is that the school has a very small proportion of actual genuine local children.”

She said the practice had left the area “a ruined community”.

Headteacher Alan Davison said: “Everything she says in some ways I totally agree with, apart from the bit where it says the school has done nothing about it.”

Dr Davison said he was “extremely passionate about this issue”, but was at the mercy of County Council lawyers and the political decisions of the current Education Secretary, Michael Gove, and his Labour predecessor, Ed Balls.

He added: “People will do anything to get in [to the school].”

He said he had tried in vain to refuse places to what he believes were fraudulent applications, but his decisions were overturned on appeal.

Frances Button, cabinet member for education and skills, said the council would not tolerate fraud.

“If it does come to light that the family were not resident at the stated address when applying or move away once a place is allocated then we always investigate and, if found to be fraudulent, we would remove the place.

“If the pupil has been attending the school for a period then we would not usually remove the place but any further siblings would not be eligible to qualify for a priority sibling link.”

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