Deputy's lies over daughter exposed

15th April 2005 at 01:00
Teacher used caretaker's flat for cover in admissions scam, reports Adi Bloom

The deputy head of a Roman Catholic primary has been caught lying about where she lived to get her daughter a place at a popular London secondary school.

Margaret Gillespie claimed she lived in the caretaker's flat at her school, Holy Cross primary in Hammersmith and Fulham, which is near the successful Lady Margaret school.

But Mrs Gillespie lives several miles away, in Brentford, where local secondaries' results are much poorer.

And she applied to Sacred Heart high, also in Fulham, falsely claiming that she had not submitted applications to any other schools. Mrs Gillespie has been given a formal warning over the incident. Governors at Holy Cross decided not to dismiss her, citing her excellent teaching record. A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Westminster said: "Because she is a teacher, she is in a position of particular responsibility.

"Faith schools have to stand for a certain ethos. What she did was not compatible with that ethos."

Staff at Lady Margaret school uncovered the deception shortly before the start of the academic year, when they spotted discrepancies in Mrs Gillespie's application form.

The head and admissions secretary then walked to the address given on the form, only to find that it did not exist.

Joan Olivier, the head, said: "It was obvious. She chose somewhere so near our school. We might not have picked it up if she had used an address further away.

"We have 700 applicants for 90 places. You cannot condone this sort of thing, but you can understand it."

Mrs Gillespie's daughter was also offered a place at Sacred Heart high, attended by Prime Minister Tony Blair's daughter, Kathryn. Her daughter went to the school for three weeks in September, before staff discovered that she had applied to another school as well. Christine Carpenter, Sacred Heart head, said that such deceptions occur occasionally. One parent paid council tax on a property she did not own in order to secure a place at the school "Clearly parents are very anxious about secondary transfer," she said. "If we have reason to be suspicious, we will launch an investigation."

Last year, 89 per cent of Sacred Heart pupils and 97 per cent of those at Lady Margaret achieved five A*-C grades at GCSE.

Fifty per cent of pupils at Brentford girls' school reached the same level.

* adi.bloomtes.co.uk

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