London Oratory School school ordered to change its admissions policy

London Oratory School The school is said to have broken the Schools Admissions Code 105 times

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A top Catholic state school, attended by Nick Clegg's eldest son, has been accused of discrimination and ordered to change its admissions policy.

The London Oratory School's policies had the effect of "discriminating against pupils on their ethnicity and socio-economic background", the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) said.

Its report found the school broke the School Admissions Code 105 times.

The school said it reserved the right to seek a judicial review.

'Flower-arranging'

The watchdog's report said it was a "heavily oversubscribed academy Catholic faith school", which admitted boys at the ages of seven, and 11, and then both sexes for A-Levels.

In its ruling, the OSA said the south-west London school - and other admissions bodies - must not prioritise places for children "on the basis of any practical or financial support parents may give to the school", nor should children be favoured on the basis of their hobbies and activities.

It found the school broke the code by:

  • Asking for parents' baptism certificates;
  • Favouring parents for giving support, such as flower-arranging, to the Catholic church;
  • Giving priority to those who had already attended "any other Catholic school";
  • Not allowing the admission of children of no faith.

It was told to alter its admissions policy so as not to discriminate against people from working-class or non-Catholic backgrounds.

Mr Clegg's eldest son Antonio, 12, attends, while former prime minister Tony Blair sent his two eldest sons, Nicky and Euan, to the school. His daughter Kathryn is believed to have joined in the sixth form.

The adjudicator compared the school with 12 Catholic schools in neighbouring boroughs.

It found the London Oratory School had the highest proportion of "white British" pupils, the lowest proportion of "non-white" pupils and the lowest proportion of pupils of African heritage.

The report's author Dr Bryan Slater wrote: "I do not believe that the school can claim that its ethnic composition is even representative of that of the Catholic children attending schools in the part of London in which it is located."

The watchdog also said 6.4% of boys attending the school received free meals, compared to 25.1% in the borough of Fulham.

In conclusion, Dr Slater said the school needed to revise its policy "as quickly as possible".

'Challenged successfully"

Richy Thompson from the British Humanist Association, said: "I think the most significant finding has to be that the school is both racially and socio-economically selective as a result of its admissions policy.

"We're not aware of any school found to be discriminating in both those ways before so we're very pleased that the adjudicator is willing to look at that kind of issue."

He said he did not know if this was the only Catholic school which broke the rules.

In a statement, the school's headmaster David McFadden said: "The OSA has made four determinations against this school in the past six years, the most recent of which was again challenged successfully.

"Today the adjudicator's office has now, it seems, suddenly found a further 105 aspects of our admission arrangements which apparently breach the School Admission Code.

"The school governors once again reserve the right to refer this determination to judicial review."

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