London Oratory wins court action against OSA claims of admissions
One of England’s oldest and most distinguished Catholic state boys schools, London Oratory, has won a High Court action against findings that its admissions criteria unfairly disadvantaged children from poorer backgrounds.
A High Court judge said that conclusions reached by an education watchdog relating to the school, where the sons of Tony Blair, Nick Clegg and Harriett Harman were pupils, were “flawed”.
Mr Justice Cobb said the findings that the school was socially selective and discriminative must be quashed. He said that a number of conclusions by the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA), which had been challenged by the school, were “reached by a process which was procedurally unfair to the school”.
The OSA investigation was triggered by a complaint from the British Humanist Association concerning the faith-based criteria used to select pupils for places at the heavily oversubscribed Catholic academy.
The school went to the High Court to challenge a number of OSA findings that its admissions code to select pupils had been breached during 2014 and 2015. Mr Justice Cobb announced his decision to reverse some of the decisions based on the findings but also upheld others following a hearing in March.
The judge expressed his belief that the OSA had been “unlawful and/or unreasonable” in its finding against the school and the rulings could not be upheld.
He said: “This will be of little comfort to the school which has, I am sure, found this process extremely challenging.”
Ann Vernon, the school’s solicitor agreed, saying: “The allegation…that the school was socially selective and discriminating against less well-off families has been hurtful to staff, pupils and parents. This damaging allegation has been found by the judge to be wrong and unfair, and the finding vindicates the robust approach the school has had to take against the Office of the Schools
David McFadden, London Oratory’s headmaster, said: “The judge’s decision supports us in continuing to preserve the school’s ethos and serving Catholic families throughout the whole of London.”