The saga of the London Oratory’s admission criteria rumbles on. In April, the High Court ruled
that part of an earlier decision by the Schools Adjudicator against the Oratory was ‘a mix of flawed reasoning and unfair process’. This was hailed as a victory
by the Oratory, an oversubscribed Catholic school, despite the Judge upholding other parts of the earlier decision. This included ‘Catholic Service’ which the Judge said should not be included in the faith-based oversubscription criteria.
It appears, however, the Oratory requested information about a candidate’s time of baptism. The difference between a candidate’s birth date and his baptism date was included in a points system designed to differentiate between candidates – the more points, the greater the possibility of admission. The Oratory had argued that parents who sought baptism shortly after a child’s birth showed a greater ‘alignment with the ethos of the school’ than those who arranged a later baptism.
The Schools Adjudicator, however, has ruled
that giving a ‘numerical value to the time of a candidate’s baptism’ and asking whether the candidate has taken First Holy Communion is not permissible. The Oratory has been asked again to rewrite its admission criteria to align with the Schools Admission Code.
The Oratory’s head, David McFadden, told the BBC
he thought the Office of the Schools Adjudicator is ‘just not fit for purpose’. He regrets the amount of time and money the Oratory has had to spend defending its criteria. But this cost could have been avoided if the Oratory had complied with the Code in the first place
. Being a Catholic school doesn't give a right to flout laws which other schools have to follow.