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THE HEAD of the London Oratory School, John McIntosh (right), has been an outspoken critic of the Labour Government's education policies and a trenchant supporter of opted-out schools.

Mr McIntosh, 53, is a former adviser to the Conservatives on education and a member of the right-wing think-tanks the Centre for Policy Studies and the Institute of Economic Affairs.

He clashed with ministers earlier this year over their decision to abolish the grant- maintained status of nearly 1,200 schools that opted out of local authority control.

Mr McIntosh said "the enormous success of grant-maintained schools is being thrown away", and claimed there had been a "huge increase in bureaucracy" under Labour. A stickler for discipline, he spoke out after theBlair children missed the first day of term in January because they were on holiday.

His regime meant that the Oratory was ranked the eighth fastest improving state school in last year's GCSE league tables. To be admitted, practising Roman Catholics are given priority, but all applicants and parents are interviewed.