UK

London Oratory School, Where Tony Blair's Sons Attended, Slammed For 'Unfair' Admissions

29/08/2013 09:38 BST
PA
LABOUR LEADER TONY BLAIR'S WIFE CHERIE ESCORTS THEIR SON EUAN ON HIS FIRST DAY AT THE LONDON ORATORY. THE DECISION TO SEND HIS SON TO A GRANT MAINTAINED SCHOOL, IN CONTRAVENTION TO TRADITIONAL LABOUR POLICY, IS LIKELY TO CAUSE SOME DIVISION IN THE PARTY.

The prestigious Catholic state school where Tony Blair sent his two sons to school while he was in Number 10, has been deeply criticised by the schools watchdog for "unfair" admissions.

The Office of the Schools Adjudicator has ordered the London Oratory School, where Nick Clegg's son Antonio currently attends, to completely overhaul its admissions criteria after identifying ten separate breaches of the School Admissions Code, which insists on religious practice by parents. Clegg is a self-confessed atheist.

The admissions procedure means parents must do flower arranging, sing in church choirs, play the organ or do community work for the church like visiting hopices four years prior to their child starting at the school.

london oratory

Cherie Blair escorts her and Tony Blair's son Euan to the London Oratory School

David Lennard Jones, the adjudicator on the complaint favoured parents who might be better at organisation, discriminated against Catholics who practise in other ways than traditional services. "The school’s admissions criteria are not easily understood, and need a major redrafting on this front," the ruling said.

In its submissions to the OSA, the School argued that the BHA's complaint was vexatious, saying that "it cannot have expected that, for example, a fundamentalist Christian in Texas could invoke the Code to object to an Islamic faith school in Birmingham or that a militant jihadist in Iran could object to a Jewish school in North London. Accordingly, some limitation must be inferred."

The British Humanist Association said the state school did not appear to allow for the admittance of pupils from families with no religion.

Since making the complaint the BHA has helped launch the Fair Admissions Campaign, which has welcomed the ruling.

BHA Education Campaigner Richy Thompson commented: "This state-funded school is one of the most socio-economically selective in the country, taking in under 20% as many pupils requiring free school meals as live in the area in which it is based.

"The degree to which the school’s admissions criteria enabled social engineering to take place was appalling and we are very pleased that these parts must now all be removed.

"We hope that the school will think carefully about how it can redraft its criteria in a way which does not select children from wealthy families but is inclusive of all, regardless of social standing."

David McFadden, headmaster of the London Oratory, told the Times: “The school reserves the right to appeal against this decision by a judicial review.”