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Faith schools opponent Clegg considering top Catholic school for sons
by Amy Shank
Posted: Saturday, June 18, 2011, 9:19 (BST)
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has opened himself up to ridicule after it emerged that he is considering sending his three sons to a top Catholic school.
The declared atheist and opponent of faith schools has toured the London Oratory, one of the most sought-after schools in the country which was attended by Tony Blair’s sons.
He and his Catholic wife, Miriam, are considering the Oratory even though there are several secondaries closer to their Putney home, including the Catholic John Paul II School.
The admission policy at the Oratory requires parents to demonstrate their active involvement in the church, a condition some critics feel discriminates against the less well off who are less able to give their time towards church activies.
Mr Clegg defended the move: “My kids are more precious to me than anything else in the world and the fact [is] that my wife is Catholic, I married in the Catholic church and my children have been brought up by Catholics and go to a Catholic state primary school.
“It therefore shouldn’t be entirely surprising that maybe, maybe just maybe, my wife might consider, we might consider as parents sending our children on to a state-funded Catholic secondary school.”
The Liberal Democrats have been particularly pushy about the admissions policies of faith schools, claiming that they are too exclusive.
In their manifesto last year, they outlined their intention to force faiths schools to adopt an “inclusive admissions policy”.
Keith Porteous Wood, of the National Secular Society, has accused Mr Clegg of hypocrisy.
“The Oratory is very exclusive. It is equivalent to sending your child to private school, on the rates.
“The entry criteria is so stringent that only the crème de la crème get in.
“As his wife Miriam is a Catholic it is understandable they would want a Catholic school.
“But he shouldn’t haul his children across London to go to the best.
“It reeks of elitism and goes against just about everything he has said about faith schools.”