PARENTS are lying about where they live, making false statutory declarations and even renting properties for six months and leaving them vacant in an effort to get their children accepted into a school of their choice.
The introduction of the My School website in 2010, which details annual academic results, has sparked a boom in out-of-zone enrolment applications at some Hunter schools. Most of them are rejected.
One parent, who declined to be identified, said her family rented a house in the inner-city simply to use the address.
‘‘We had no intention of moving there due to work commitments, but we liked what the local school offered and wanted to get our children in and it worked,’’ she said.
Others parents told the Newcastle Herald they used addresses of friends, relatives and places of work, made-up or exaggerated medical conditions and got acquaintances who lived in-zone to falsely state they were babysitting after school.
Another woman said she set up a mobile phone account with a false street address and used the paperwork as proof she lived in-zone for a ‘‘highly sought-after’’ school.
Blackbutt Street Real Estate licensee Karen Wilson said school selection was ‘‘ultra important’’ to people buying houses.
Ms Wilson said she had known one couple to buy a house so they could use the address, despite the fact that they had no intention of moving there.
‘‘It’s often said the first reason people relocate is for schools, it’s a huge factor in the decision-making process,’’ she said.
‘‘Some schools, like New Lambton Public and Belair, are huge drawcards for people wanting to get into a particular area.’’
Darcy Real Estate owner Rob Darcy said one of the first questions people asked when buying or renting was what school zone the property was in.
Primary Principals’ Association Newcastle president Warwick Beard, of Belair Public, described the increase in people making out-of-zone applications as ‘‘misguided’’.
Mr Beard said schools represented the communities they served and the My School website was a ‘‘very narrow’’ tool to determine where to send children.
The website includes information on each school’s academic results in annual national literacy and numeracy tests, funding, socioeconomic make-up of students and staff levels.
Belair Public receives about 40 out-of-zone enrolment applications for kindergarten pupils each year, with only five to 18 accepted.
Mr Beard said all schools had to keep a buffer to allow for unexpected local enrolments throughout the year.
‘‘Often things said in the community about schools may have reflected a bad situation from 10 years ago, we always encourage people to talk to the local principal first,’’ Mr Beard said.
‘‘There are so many factors parents should consider and getting to grow up and have positive relationships with other kids in your own community is very important.’’
The Junction Public School principal Wendy Cheek said she knew of people renting places just to use the address, but described it as an exception rather than the norm.
Ms Cheek said parents needed to give local schools a chance.
‘‘The public system does things awfully well and we all have the same curriculum and we all do the same things in our schools,’’ she said.
‘‘Parents need to get behind their local schools, support them and make them what they are.’’
Department of Education spokesman Sven Wright said out-of-zone applications were the responsibility of individual schools.