The Diocesan Education Commission and Trustees wish to know the views of Catholic schools on the current proposals for Academies and the possible participation of Catholic school system.
The Diocese has considered very carefully the recent policy developments relating to Academies, and the implications for Catholic education in this Diocese.
The Church is no stranger to innovation, and it welcomes any initiative which can improve the quality of Catholic education experienced by our pupils. It is the responsibility of the diocesan bishop and his advisers to ensure that any initiative is entirely compatible with the Church’s vision and work in education. This includes the preferential option for the poor and commitment to the common good.
The Diocese is grateful to the Chairs of Governors, Head Teachers and Religious Superiors who have engaged in the dialogue the Diocese has been conducting over the past few months on this subject. It is clear that there is a mixture of views. There is enthusiasm for some potentially exciting developments. There is also caution about a number of different matters of principle and of practice. The Education Commission and Diocesan Trustees found these views very helpful in coming to their initial conclusions framing this consultation.
As a diocese we are encouraged by the confidence expressed by the Catholic Education Service about progress being made with the Department of Education in resolving the remaining technical problems for the Church that exist with the current Academies legislation.
This more detailed consultation exercise is intended to cover:
· the appropriate structures for Catholic Voluntary Academies in this Diocese within a diocesan academy trust;
· the reasons why it might be appropriate for the Trustees to approve applications from schools wishing to become Academies; and
· the process to be established in order to receive and determine applications will also be part of the consultation.
All of this will be done against the background of the ecclesial nature of Catholic education as set out in the diocesan “Red Book” Our Catholic Schools: Their Identity and Purpose.
We hope you will find this document and associated documents helpful in informing you about the current proposals and some of the background to them. We encourage all schools to respond to the consultation as fully as possible, whether using the pro-forma template available or in any other way. We will endeavour to take into account all of your views. There is no formal closing date at this stage, but early responses (by the end of June) would be particularly helpful. That does not preclude subsequent responses if, for instance, the initial response can only be brief or subsequent governing body discussions merit a supplementary response.