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  1. ITV Report

Tonight: How to Get into a Good School

PARENTS would be willing to cheat in large numbers to get their youngsters into the best state schools, according to an exclusive Tonight survey.

More than a third of parents of primary school children said they had or would be willing to feign religion to get their child into a good school, according to the survey conducted by OnePoll.

And almost 40% said they had or would be willing to pretend to live in the catchment area of a good school if necessary.

The poll was commissioned for ITV’s Tonight programme “How to Get Into a Good School”, on ITV at 7.30pm this evening.

We showed the survey results to Prof Becky Francis at Kings College London Credit: ITV / Tonight

I was also interested that almost half of parents believe that other parents are cheating the system in order to get their kids into a good school. How awful that almost half of parents think that we have a system that can be cheated and are anxious about bad practices that are clearly going on. This can't be socially healthy.”

– Prof Becky Francis, Kings College London

Reporter Aasmah Mir talks to one mum who became a pillar of the local church just to get her child into the nearest school, which happened to be a Church of England primary school.

I would say that I was being a good parent. What most people want is a good school and the fact that everyone else does it, although that doesn’t make it better, means that if you don’t do it your child is going to be disadvantaged.”

– Mum speaking anonymously
Rabbi Jonathan Romain Credit: ITV / Tonight

Rabbi Jonathan Romain speaks for the Accord Coalition which campaigns against faith schools.

Although I am very much in favour of faith, I think faith schools are creating an education apartheid system.”

– Rabbi Jonathan Romain

The Maidenhead-based Rabbi sent his children to a local community school rather than the local Jewish school.

I wanted my Jewish children to sit next to a Christian, or to play football with a Muslim in the break or do homework with a Hindu and walk home with an atheist.”

– Rabbi Jonathan Romain
Rev Nigel Genders Credit: ITV / Tonight

But Church of England spokesman Rev Nigel Genders tells the programme:

It’s not discriminatory. Simply scrapping it won’t work because all that will lead to is a system where the only access that people can get to their school is based on what house they can afford to live in. The fact of the matter is that we’re often a victim of our own success, because our schools are so good and so popular. So a parent’s choice as to whether or not they go to church or whether they want their child to go to this particular school is their choice. What we’re doing is broadening choice rather than closing choice down.”

– Rev Nigel Genders

Feigning religion not the only example of parents potentially trying to cheat the system.

Aasmah Mir visits Lightwoods Primary School, the most oversubscribed primary school in Sandwell, West Midlands.

One family had a business address and actually put that down as an address that they lived at. But we always do home visits for parents. The authority will withdraw places if they are allocated and found not to be correct.”

– Headteacher Elaine Bowen

The nationwide survey polled 1,000 parents with children aged between 4 and 11 between March 23rd and April 8th.

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