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Prestigious London Oratory wins latest round in selection battle

30 January 2014 | by Liz Dodd

A leading Catholic school has temporarily won back the right to select students based on the Catholicity of their parents after the Government overturned a complaint by the British Humanist Association.

According to government lawyers, an “error in law” invalidated the decision, reached last August by the Office of the Schools Adjudicator, that the London Oratory School, in Fulham, west London, kept unfair admissions criteria when it ranked students according to the services that their parents provided the Church, such as reading at Mass and flower arranging.

The prestigious boys’ school, which regularly gets 800 applications for 160 places and admits girls to its sixth form, educated three of former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s children and recently enrolled the eldest son of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg as a pupil.

The decision on the admissions complaint was quashed last week because in his ruling the adjudicator incorrectly stated that Westminster Diocese does not provide guidance on what religious activities should be considered in the admissions process. The diocese’s guidance states that ranking students according to their parents’ service to the Church is “not acceptable”.

Westminster Diocese said it would be inappropriate to comment until the Office of the Schools Adjudicator came to a final decision.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) maintains its complaint that the selection criteria are illegal. A new ruling is expected in April, the deadline for schools to submit their admissions criteria.

The London Oratory was not available for comment.





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