Friday, April 11, 2008

School cheats

In today's papers there is outrage that a local council here in Dorset has spied on a family. The story is that this family was about to move house, but wanted their children to stay at the same school. Last September the youngest child was about to start school so they wrote to the council asking whether it would be possible for their younger daughter to attend the same school as her older sister. This was a question because they were intending to move a couple of miles out of the catchment area.

Schools are usually good about this sort of thing as they don't like to disrupt the continuity of children's schooling if it can be avoided and like to accommodate parent's wishes not to deliver their children to different schools in the mornings The local school authority agreed that it would be fine if they had not moved before the school term began.

So they delayed their move until the following January and the children both went to the same school as agreed. However, the parents now complain that the council sent investigators out to ensure that they really were living at the address that they had given. "1984!" the cry. "Big Brother!" Most newspaper readers seem to agree with them.

But if it were social benefit cheats who were detected by such snooping the newspapers would praise the effort of local authorities to curb unnecessary spending. It is not the snooping that is the issue, but the presence of poor schools that parents want to avoid and feel that they must cheat to avoid. These particular parents were exonerated. they should be grateful; without the snooping they might not have been.

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