The Catholic Education Service of England and Wales is to support an application from the Archdiocese of Westminster for a judicial review of recent rulings from the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) that have found against aspects of the Certificate of Catholic Practice. Schools Week report that the review will take place during March, April or May.
The Catholic Education Service of England and Wales has recommend over the last year that Catholic schools use the Certificate as a marker to establish which children come from a practising Catholic family, and so should enjoy priority if the school is oversubscribed. The OSA rulings found admission policies that relied on the Certificate were breaking the statutory School Admissions Code, including because of a lack of clarity and consistency around how the Certificate is awarded to families by Parish Priests. As Accord reported in November, the adjudications cast doubt on the validity of the admissions policy of many Catholic schools across the country.
Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘Preventing the life chances of children being determined in arbitrary ways is one reason why the School Admissions Code exists. As long as state funded schools are still allowed to use faith based admissions criteria, families should be able to easily determine how the criteria will be satisfied.’
‘We await further details about the legal case, but the court action sends a worrying signal. Ensuring procedural fairness should not be a challenge for religious authorities that sponsor faith schools, but something they should wish to readily embrace.’