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Oratory still asks parents for money despite loan offer

THE HEAD teacher of the London Oratory School said yesterday he would continue to ask parents of pupils - including Tony and Cherie Blair - for contributions of up to pounds 45 a month, despite being offered a pounds 250,000 loan to overcome the school's budget problems.

John McIntosh said there were "no plans to change our parental contribution scheme" despite the financial aid from Hammersmith and Fulham Council which had reportedly been discussed as early as July.

He made the appeal for help from parents days before the Labour Party conference in September, arguing that the Oratory needed help to overcome the loss of additional funding which was cut when the Government abolished grant-maintained status for schools.

Head teachers criticised Mr McIntosh after parents were asked to make a voluntary contribution of pounds 30 a month for one child and pounds 15 for the second to overcome a pounds 250,000 shortfall. Mr McIntosh told parents at the time: "It would be impossible for us to maintain the current pupil-teacher ratio, continue to recruit and retain teachers of the highest calibre ... and generally to maintain high standards unless we raise funds to match the shortfall in income from public funds."

Yesterday he said the school was still in "amicable" negotiations over the loan. But the appeal for parents' money stood.