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Tuesday, 5 December, 2000, 12:51 GMT
London Oratory: A high profile school
London Oratory School
The school admits 180 boys a year
The London Oratory School, situated in well-heeled Fulham, south-west London, is regarded as one of the top secondary schools in the capital.

Its roots stretch back to almost 140 years ago, when the Fathers of the London Oratory in Brompton established a school in Chelsea to provide an education for Roman Catholic children in the area.

The voluntary-aided boys school has always had a high profile, but has particularly come under the media's spotlight since Tony and Cherie Blair chose to send their sons Euan and Nicky there.

Euan Blair
Euan Blair is a pupil
The prime minister's assertion earlier this year that his teenage children attended "ordinary state schools" was met with disbelief by some newspapers which commented that the Oratory was hardly an average comprehensive.

And the school, which does not charge annual fees, found itself at the centre of a political storm when in September last year, it sent a letter to all parents asking them to pay a levy towards what it called a funding deficit of 250,000.

Parents such as the Blairs, with two children at the Oratory, were asked to pay 45 a month - reigniting allegations that the Labour Government was underfunding former grant-maintained schools.

Tough alcohol stance

The Oratory's admissions policy gives priority to pupils from a solidly Roman Catholic background, and parents are interviewed to assess their commitment to the church.

The prospectus says it aims to help the school's 1,360 pupils "grow towards full Christian maturity".

Headmaster John McIntosh is outspoken in his views on the government's handling of the education system and of trends in British society.

Soon after 16-year-old Euan Blair was arrested for drunkenness in Leicester Square, Mr McIntosh criticised an "entrenched alcohol culture" in the UK, although he said his remarks were not aimed at the Blairs.

With a majority of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C and above-average A-level results, the school is a magnet for parents from across London.

Only 160 places are available each year for 11-year-old boys and these are hotly contested.

A further 20 places are reserved for pupils with exceptional musical ability from the affiliated junior school for boys.

Girls can join the 350-strong sixth form at age 16.

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See also:

28 Sep 99 | Education
'Leafy suburbs' losing out, say heads
25 Sep 99 | Education
Blair 'asked to pay school fees'
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