A quarter of parents admit to flouting school admissions criteria to get their child into their preferred local school, new Zoopla research suggests.
The survey of parents with school age children comes ahead of the primary school application deadline on January 15.
It revealed the true extent of the lengths that parents are willing to go to in order to secure a place at the best schools.
And this may not be surprising, as they could face paying an average of £82,960 more for a property in a catchment area of a high-performing school, or a premium of £200,000 in London.
A quarter of parents admit to flouting school admissions criteria to get their child into their preferred local school, new research suggests
The research also revealed that 17 per cent of parents of school aged children admit they lied, bent or broke school application rules to get their children into their preferred school, while a further 7 per cent say they ‘played the system’.
It means that one in four parents are going to extreme lengths to secure preferred school places for their children.
Bending the rules takes many forms. Among the parents who have, 27 per cent admit to exaggerating their religious affiliation or pretending to be religious in order to get into a faith school.
And 21 per cent say they registered their child at a family member’s address that was closer to their preferred school.
Some 10 per cent simply lied about their address, while 8 per cent said they temporarily rented a second home – that they child never lived in – within the catchment area.
Parents are willing to pay an average of £82,960 more for a property in a catchment area of a high-preforming school
Money and school donations also play a key role, with 16 per cent of parents who admit they bent the rules saying that they made a ‘voluntary donation’ to a particular school ahead of applying,
Others offered their time, with 20 per cent saying they volunteered at or became involved with a school ahead of applying for their child’s place, while 14 per cent say they became ‘friendly’ with senior figures at the school in order to curry favour.
Of course, many parents do not bend the rules – some are simply able to move into the catchment area of the school they want their children to go to.
In total, 28 per cent of parents who currently have school aged children said that they did this.
However, the research found that there is a huge premium attached to doing so, which might be prohibitive to some.
Among those who bought a home in a good catchment area, the average premium they paid was a huge £82,960, with the figure rising to £209,599 in London.
Some 21 per cent said they registered their child at a family member’s address that was closer to their preferred school
The majority of parents are against bending or breaking rules to get children into a good school.
A total of 55 per cent said they feel it is an ‘unfair practice which should be stopped’ and 56 per cent who have done so, admit they feel guilty about it.
A further 6 per cent of parents admit they are so fed up with the practice that they have ‘grassed up’ another parent and reported them to the school.
However, 11 per cent believe it is acceptable and a further 19 per cent admit it isn’t fair but ‘everyone does it’.
Daniel Copley, of Zoopla, said: ‘We were blown away by the figures showing just how many parents are going to extreme lengths to get their kids into the preferred school, which suggests the practice is endemic to the application process and widespread across the country.
‘But even more parents move into the catchment area of the school they want their kids to go to – and we are poised to support them every step of the way.
‘While the premium on a property in the catchment area of a popular local school might appear steep, we know that many homeowners have far more equity tied up in their home than they realise, which could make a move into a good catchment area a possibility.’
The Department for Education was approached for a comment about how easy it is to break the rules and the lack of penalties among those who do, but it declined to respond.