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London Oratory ordered to change admissions policy

The Oratory has been told to change its admission policy

One of the country’s top Catholic state schools has been ordered by the Office of the Schools Adjudicator to change its admissions policy.

The London Oratory in Fulham, which has in recent years been attended by the children of a number of politicians, including Tony Blair and Nick Clegg, was criticised for prioritizing children based on their parents’ parish activities.

The British Humanist Association lodged an objection over the school’s rules saying it breaches England’s admissions code.

In its written ruling, the Office of the Schools Adjudicator said that the school argued the service criteria, which include such things as singing in the church choir, serving at the altar of visiting the sick, does not breach the code because the activities described are religious duties required by canon law.

But the ruling stated that it was a breach of the admissions code for the school to include “service in a Catholic parish or in the wider Catholic Church” as a criteria.

Adjudicator David Lennard Jones said that while he does not dispute the school’s reference to canon law, the admissions code does not allow practical support to a school, or organisation like the Catholic Church, to be used to prioritise children for places.

He said the system favours parents who are “good at planning ahead” and said it discriminates against Catholics who practise their faith in other ways, he said.

The adjudicator’s decisions mirrors the Diocese of Westminster’s 2009 ruling against the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, a mile away in Kensington.