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Chelmsford County High School must change rented homes rules

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Girls are missing out on places at a top-performing selective state grammar school because they live in rented homes, a government official has said.

Chelmsford County High School for Girls in Essex has been ordered to change its admissions rules.

The current policy aimed to stop parents “gaming” catchment area rules, and means families have to show evidence of long tenancy agreements.

The schools adjudicator said it was unfair to short-term tenants.

He has given the school until the end of February to change its policy, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The school is rated “outstanding” by Ofsted and regularly features towards the top of school league tables for exam results.

Children have to pass the 11-plus examination to secure a place.

‘Second homes’

The school’s existing rules aim to stop parents, whose main home is outside the 12.5-mile catchment area, trying to “game the system” by renting a home inside catchment and claiming it is their main residence.

Families have to provide evidence of a tenancy agreement from the point they register for the school’s selection test to admission – a period of 15 months.

The schools adjudicator Dr Bryan Slater said he understood why the rule existed, but said it also meant parents whose only residence was in a rented home in the catchment area would be unlikely to be able to satisfy the school because long tenancies were hard to come by.

In his report he said: “There is a real possibility many parents will feel there is no point in applying for a place, because they will know they will be unable to meet the school’s test of permanent residence.

“My view is that this causes unfairness to such families.”

Dr Slater has not said how many girls may have missed out on a place.

The adjudicator ordered the school to change its admissions policy to act reasonably to ensure addresses were not false, and not “second” or “temporary homes”.

The school has been approached for comment.

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