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London Oratory ordered to change admissions policy

By on Friday, 30 August 2013

The Oratory has been told to change its admission 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.

  • Chesire11

    Yes…so do non-Catholics, and that means that the non-Catholics have a say in how their tax money is spent. Unless the state funds used to support the “Catholic” state schools are drawn exclusively from special taxes levied only upon Catholics, the non-Catholic taxpayers have a right to attach conditions to the funding. By accepting funding from a secular state, you also accept that continued funding will be dependent upon secular priorities and concerns.

    The lesson here is not to take candy from strangers.

  • NatOns

    The ‘guilt’ was that of racialism, if I understand it, at the Jewish Free School not religion – per se. A Catholic school that excluded Irish boys or the children of black men, whose parent happen to claim Catholic Faith, would be guilty of race discrimination. I cannot say that this is true of the Jewish Free School in dividing Jew from non-Jew on physical inheritance not codified belief, but that is the difference advanced.

    All faith based schools must follow the rules set by the Education Authority, and that is the problem in the extremity of our grace concern: if the state insists that a marriage (sic) between two men or three women or brothers or sisters is lawful marriage and cannot be further distinguished, regardless of faith commitment, then the faith school must follow what the state requires not what its religion requires.

  • JR, Sydney

    Nope. just an interested bystander

  • JR, Sydney

    Not ignorance, tegitur. If the school is funded entirely by the state and has no fee-paying sudents then the school has no right to cherry pick its students (or parents).

    At least the systemic schools here charge ( admittedly) paltry fees; it does give them a leg to stand on. 50 years ago the fees were still paltry and we got no state money. The story of how State Aid was finally won first in NSW and then elsewhere in Oz is an interesting one. However, since you have already said you have no interest in these shores I won’t trouble you or the other gentle readers with the details.

  • anarchicprune

    Roman Catholic schools are also supported by what the parishioners contribute from their widow’s mite every Sunday…
    And, yes, Roman Catholics pay taxes.

  • vitrioliccupcake

    If the British Humanist Association’s attitude was targeting Jewish schools in this way, there would be screaming headlines in the press and plenty of talking heads on the news!
    Would such posters on this blog, like Jonathan West say, for the sake of illustration, that because a Jewish school takes taxpayer’s funding that they should supply pork, shellfish, serve milk with meals that have meat and non-kosher food – like the rest of the secular state schools – when it comes to lunchtime?
    That would be unacceptable to Jewish sensibilities, wouldn’t it, and the Jewish community won’t stand for such intimidation and fears that the education of Jewish children would be eventually stamped out by secular humanists!
    So, why use that ‘taxpayer’s money’ chestnut when it comes to Roman Catholic schools.
    Haven’t we got the right to find such humanist interference unacceptable?
    Roman Catholics pay towards the upkeep of their churches and their respective diocese through the collection plate – and that includes a fair percentage goes towards the upkeep of their schools!
    But, because the BHA are targeting Roman Catholic Schools we are expected to lay down and kow-tow like a bunch of softies to the liberals!
    It’s high time our hierarchy bared some teeth towards these people who seek to wreck Catholic education and face them down!

  • Jonathan West

    If the British Humanist Association’s attitude was targeting Jewish schools in this way, there would be screaming headlines in the press and plenty of talking heads on the news!

    If I recall, the British Humanist Associate did have some involvement in the case about JFS. Screaming headlines were notably absent.

    Would such posters on this blog, like Jonathan West say, for the sake of illustration, that because a Jewish school takes taxpayer’s funding that they should supply pork, shellfish, serve milk with meals that have meat and non-kosher food – like the rest of the secular state schools – when it comes to lunchtime?

    Do you think that schools with any muslim pupils should only serve halal food, irrespective of the fact that some (or even most) pupils are not muslim?

    But your point is irrelevant, we aren’t talking about school lunches, we are talking about admissions criteria, and how for the London Oratory they are forming a policy of selection by stealth.

    If you think that the London Oratory is such a good school, and that it is a good school by virtue of its superior teaching and ethos, rather than because it cherry-picks its pupils, then I suggest an experiment. Have the Oratory, for a period of say 7 years, change its admissions criteria so that it acts just as any other comprehensive with a catchment area.

    Then see what the GCSE results are for the first 3 years or un-selected intake, and whether they continue to match the results London Oratory gets today.

    If they are as good, then I’m sure the whole country will be wanting to know how they did and to learn from them, and you will have given the biggest possible boost to Catholic education.

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    Do you think that schools with any muslim pupils should only serve halal
    food, irrespective of the fact that some (or even most) pupils are not
    muslim?

    Do you think that the above is an irrelevant non sequitur ?

    I do, anyway.

  • Jonathan West

    I agree, and so was vitrioliccupcake’s suggestion that Jewish schools should be forced to serve pork at lunchtime.

    So I suggest that you offer an answer on the point in question, which is the London Oratory’s admission criteria. What do you think of my suggestion that the Oratory should completely de-restrict its admission criteria and then see if it does better than other schools?