The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

London faith school deemed 'discriminatory' and ordered to change admissions process

The London Oratory School has been deemed unfair and biased in its admissions policy, reports the BBC.

A thriving, widely oversubscribed London Catholic school, The London Oratory School, has been criticized over its admissions process and has been tarnished by the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) as 'discriminating against pupils on their ethnicity and socio-economical background'. During their inspection, the OSA found over one hundred failures to meet the School Admissions Code.

Focusing on the social classes of many of the school's pupils, the OSA determined that the school must not prioritise places for pupils whose parents can offer the school practical or financial benefits, implying that up to this point this had occurred. The report also discussed the selection of children for their extra-curricular activities and interests to be unacceptable.

The BBC reports that the OSA discovered the Oratory had been asking parents for baptism certificates, showing favour to parents who supported the Catholic Church, and preferring children who had previously attended a Catholic school over children of 'no faith' - all behaviours that break the School Admission Code.

From these observations, the OSA demanded that the school alter its admissions policy to ensure there is no discrimination against 'people from working-class or non-Catholic backgrounds'. Reinforcing this point, they found that only 6.4 per cent of pupils received free meals, a figure that is drastically lower than that of pupils in the rest of the borough in which the school is located.

Attracting a number of high-profile students, including Nick Clegg's eldest son and, formerly, Tony Blair's children, the admissions process would appear from the outside to be relatively selective. Indeed, the OSA found the London Oratory School to have 'the highest proportion of "white British" pupils, the lowest proportion of "non-white" pupils and the lowest proportion of pupils of African heritage', reports the BBC.

Despite such overwhelming criticism from the OSA, the school has maintained the right to call upon judicial review.