Admissions criteria at the London Oratory, Tony Blair’s school of choice for his children, have been slated by the Schools Adjudicator
. The school ignored the Schools Admission Code which forbids schools from selecting pupils because parents have given any practical or financial support to the school. This includes help given to any associated organisation including religious ones. But the Oratory listed such activities as “housekeeping and maintenance of church property” in its admissions criteria and even devised a points system based on length of service. Polish the pews for over three years and parents would get 2 points but parents who wash the windows for less than three would only get 1.
The Oratory didn’t just ignore the Schools Admission Code - it disregarded advice from church authorities
. The Diocese ruled that such activities were “not an appropriate measure of Catholic practice as it disadvantages other equally conscientious Catholic families who choose to fulfil their obligations in other ways.”
Worse, from a Christian perspective, the Oratory has ignored the words of Jesus which you would expect to carry some weight in an organisation which professes to follow the Christian faith:
“Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not."
Schools shouldn’t be erecting barriers – they should be tearing them down. And they shouldn’t be setting admission criteria which discriminate against children whose parents are of another faith or none.
The admission criteria of the London Oratory are supposed to have been changed but at the time of writing the offending clause was still on its website.