Redbridge Council has admitted it does not check proof of address for all its primary school applicants, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

The authority admitted its officers only check residency for oversubscribed schools, including Churchfields, Oakdale and Ray Lodge.

Even then, this is not always done – and the checks are only carried out between April and September, up until the autumn term starts.

It means nobody checks whether a child lives in the borough, or indeed the catchment area, for that particular school.

In 2017, a total of 14.17 per cent of applicants offered a primary school place at Churchfields Primary did not have their proof of residency verified.

In 2016, more than 1 in 5 applicants, or 20.29 per cent, also went unverified 

In response to an FOI, Redbridge Council said: “Residence checks are not undertaken for every application.

“They are undertaken when parents apply for oversubscribed schools and the required documentary proofs have not been provided, or where there has been some concern regarding the application.”

The authority also admitted to granting primary school places before all of the relevant checks had been completed.

A total of 72 families did not get a place for their child at any of their top six choice primary schools in Redbridge this year.

One parent fears it has created loopholes in an already strained system which is “open to abuse.”

She says she has seen families temporarily moving into a school’s catchment area to secure a place but to move out after the random checks have stopped.

Application fraud for school places has been a persistent national problem.

In response to the FOI, Redbridge Council said: “Whilst there may be times that an offer of a school place has been made before all checks have been completed, the place cannot be taken up, or retained, if the local authority is not satisfied with the accuracy of the application details.”

A spokesman for Redbridge Council said: “Schools make residency checks for all applications when it’s necessary to do so.

“It isn’t needed if a school is under subscribed as there are available places. But if there are more applications than places available, it’s important that the checks are carried out.

“In some cases a residency check is not needed because the family applying may already have siblings at the schools living at the same address or a child might be given a place because they are Looked After or have an Education Health and Care Plan.

“By law, we cannot take account of how long any applicant has lived at a property or request birth certificates as part of the admissions procedure. We will continue to work closely with our schools and residence check officers to identify those families where false information may have been provided and will act accordingly.”

A council spokesperson added: “The council checks the proof of address for all primary school applications in the borough.  Further physical residency checks, such as visiting the property, are also undertaken when it is required – for example, when the school is oversubscribed, documentary proof of address is not supplied or there are concerns about an application.

"These checks supplement those also undertaken by the schools.”