A TOP Fulham school has been criticised for the way it handled an admissions appeal by a government watchdog.
London Oratory School, in Seagrave Road, was reported to the Ombudsman after refusing a school place to a non-practising Roman Catholic boy last year.
His angry parents, who remain anonymous, lodged the complaint after their subsequent appeal was thrown out by the school last May.
They were found to have been denied their right for an outline of the school's case three days before the hearing, details of panel members and an interpreter while also having requests for information ignored.
The school also told them their appeal was refused because the school was over-subscribed with Roman Catholic applications who took priority for places at the high-performing academy.
In official notes of the hearing, the panel ruled that 'it would not be right to uphold an appeal for a non Catholic child at the expense of the some very strong cases of appeal we have seen from Catholic families'.
But Ombudsman Dr Jane Martin said this was clear breach of the Schools Admissions Appeals Code.
Her report said: "I am concerned at the comments by the panel about overturning the admission authority’s initial decision. The purpose of the appeals process is to give the panel an opportunity to consider whether the appellants’ reasons for wanting a place at the school outweigh the school’s prejudice case.
"Having reviewed the clerk’s notes and the decision letter it is unclear whether the panel applied this test correctly."
The investigation ultimately found 'maladministration causing injustice' in the appeal process and warned school bosses that it needs to review its processes to avoid a similar case in the future.
Dr Martin added: "The Ombudsman recommends that the school should hold a new appeal hearing with a new panel. In addition, it recommends that the school revise the training provided to panel members to prevent the same errors occuring in the future.”
Headteacher David McFadden, who defended the school's position and refused the option of an immediate appeal re-hearing last November, told the Chronicle: "Senior management at The London Oratory School are considering the Ombudsman's report and will take appropriate measures in relation to the appeal process. As the case is ongoing, the school will not make any further comments."