Building on our experiences of school to school support and improvement we have decided to consult on whether to formalise our relationships and develop a multi academy trust. The proposed move to Academy status is prompted by government steps to raise standards. Such moves are designed to offer schools a greater measure of independence and control over the total education services they provide.
The trustees of Lancaster RC Diocese have determined that they will consider applications for academy status only from a group of Catholic schools. The diocese will not sanction single schools converting to academy status. This is to ensure the “guiding principles” underpinning Catholic education are preserved.
It is essential to remind ourselves as to the role of a Catholic school within the educational mission of the Church, part of which is to serve the needs of vulnerable children and the wider community. The following points, though not prescriptive, should also be kept in mind in relation to Catholic schools as must the legal responsibilities instanced in diocesan Trust Deeds to promote the Catholic faith/religion:
- That the curriculum is presented in a Catholic setting which contributes to the faith and development of each individual in the school. The Catholic education that results will foster:
- the education of all
- the education of the whole person
- the uniqueness of the individual made in the image and likeness of God
- Catholic moral principles
- a practical and theoretical understanding of the Catholic faith
- an understanding of how other subjects relate to the question of faith
- the common good
- The great importance of the family of Catholic schools working together including the close links between diocesan secondary schools and their partner primary schools.
- The fact that nationally diocesan structures and ways of working have, over many years, developed collegially and collaboratively and this has brought great strength to the reputation and achievements of Catholic schools as well as increasing the political influence of the Catholic education sector.
(Diocese of Lancaster Education Service, Briefing Notes, Academies – Information & Analysis, 2012)
In consulting on a multi academy trust the schools will seek to deepen and strengthen their existing relationship with each other. The multi academy trust, if established, will be open to other Blackpool Catholic schools to join at a later date if they so wish.
In coming to our decision to consult on our proposal to form a multi academy trust, we believe:
- A Multi-academy Trust whilst reducing an individual school’s autonomy would ensure a greater interdependency of schools who would be less able or inclined to act individually. There would be greater potential for schools to work together to pool key skills, experience and resources. Posts could be created across schools linked to leadership & management, school improvement or key business areas. Repetitive practices could be reduced and economies of scale gained when purchasing goods and services.
- In a wider climate of growing political antipathy to faith schools, a multi academy trust will provide a stronger, more coherent, voice of, and witness to, the benefits of Catholic schools in our community. The Blackpool Catholic Multi Academy Trust would be pro-active in building a structure for the governance and management of Catholic education that will future-proof local Catholic provision and support more vulnerable schools.
- The potential size of a Multi-academy Trust will give the schools within it a greater combined and shared resilience, for example:
- to mange fluctuating pupil numbers;
- employ directly or on a consultancy basis school improvement services to address issues related to standards and
- to protect vulnerable children, as part of a collective mission of service to the poor, through delivering enhanced and more efficient multi-disciplinary approaches and teams.