Comment: Clampdown on catchment cheats is welcome

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EVERY parent worries about getting their children into a good school.

There is always a scramble to get in to the ones regarded as being the best but the problem is not always as straightforward as that. It would be wrong to portray the competition for places in the most popular state school as as simply “pushy parent” syndrome. For many parents, the driving force is not a desire to clamber over the heads of others to get their kids to the best opportunities available, it is more a fear of their children being disadvantaged, left behind by others, by ending up at a school they think is not up to scratch.

With such a big variation in the overall academic results of schools across the city it is no wonder that parents can become obsessed with getting their children into “a good school”. Of course it is easier for better-off families who can afford to pay the premium rents and house prices in neighbourhoods in the catchment area of the most well thought of schools. With rents and house prices in some of these areas so high, it is not an option for everyone.

So there is sympathy for those families who are effectively priced out of the city’s best schools even when the education they receive is free.

Where that sympathy stops is when parents try to fiddle the system. Those that try to con the education authority might justify it to themselves in many ways, blaming the iniquities of the city’s housing market. But the bottom line is that these underhand tactics are not the victimless tricks that the perpetrators like to pretend.

For every child that jumps the queue, another is denied a place, and that is someone who was judged to have a stronger claim to one of those sought-after spaces. Perhaps it will be a child denied the chance to go to the same school as their siblings. This clampdown on the cheats is very welcome.