State schools are charging parents to secure child's place

Some state schools have been "charging" parents hundreds of pounds before allocating places for their children.

Most of the schools involved were faith schools, many of which can legally ask parents for voluntary financial contributions towards their children's education. But a snapshot survey in three out of 150 local authorities found some schools were "asking parents to commit to making financial contributions as a condition of admission".

In one case, parents were told to complete a standing order at the time they applied for a place.

Ed Balls, the Children's Secretary, said charging parents was "totally unacceptable" and ordered the payments to be stopped. They came to light after a survey of the schools admission system found a "shocking" number of schools breaking the rules. Officials refused to name the schools but said they would be identified when the allegations have been verified.

"We have found the evidence in the public domain. It's on websites and places like that," said one official.

The check of schools in three authorities, Manchester, Northamptonshire and Barnet in north London, found that some popular schools were using a number of improper methods to weed out children for admission.

They included not giving children in care the priority required by law, asking about the marital status, occupational or financial status of the parents and interviewing children.

Mr Balls ordered an immediate ban on all attempts to raise money in return for the allocation of a place for a child.

The schools are also being warned that they could be breaking the rules for the provision of free state education by asking parents to pay money before they are allocated places for their children. Schools have been putting pressure on parents to make "voluntary contributions" for improving school facilities, leading them to believe they had no option but to pay up, or lose their child's place at the school.

Mr Balls said he believed the breaches of the admissions codes were widespread. "We didn't single them out. I have no reason to believe that what is happening in these three authorities is any different from what is happening in the rest of the country."

The Independent has learned some parents are so desperate to get their children into schools they have volunteered free trips abroad to headteachers.

Mr Balls is now amending the Education and Skills Bill to place a further duty on local authorities to report each year on the legality, fairness and effectiveness of school admission arrangements in their area.

Parents are to be issued with a guide on admissions appeals and the time limit for an appeal to the adjudicator is being extended from six to 16 weeks.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Reach Volunteering: Would you like to volunteer your expertise as Chair of Governors for Livability?

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...

Ashdown Group: Payroll Administrator - Buckinghamshire - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + substantial benefits: Ashdown Group: Finance Admin...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine