Leading Article: We need a crackdown

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The Independent Online

Ian Craig, the Schools Adjudicator, is a man on a mission. He wants to get the message out to parents that lying to secure a place for your child in a popular school is wicked. It is a form of "theft", he says, because it deprives another child of a place, and we should be saying wherever we can that this is not right.

Craig's difficulty, however, is that he does not think that making school cheats into criminals will work. That is because he's not convinced the courts would jail parents who have committed such fraud. Moreover, he thinks fines won't be effective against parents who can afford to rent a second home next to a popular school. So, he is reduced to beating his breast and asking the media to help.

His dilemma is understandable. In his next report to the Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, Craig will have to come up with deterrents and sanctions. This is a serious matter. The problem of fraud in applications is gowing because some parents will do almost anything to ensure their children avoid what they deem to be sink schools. In the final analysis, treating school cheats as criminals may be the only way to do this.