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Appeal Court backs diocese over Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School Governors
posted on 14 April 2011
Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School
Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School

The Diocese of Westminster has welcomed the ruling, made on 14 April 2011 by the Court of Appeal, upholding the diocese's appointment of Foundation Governors to the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School.

The ruling also confirmed the legality of the appointment to the Governing Body of the diocese's Director of Education, Mr Paul Barber.

Bishop George Stack

Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster George Stack, Chairman of the Diocese of Westminsters Education Commission, said:

The Court of Appeal has clarified the law relating to the appointment of Foundation Governors to the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School and confirmed the legality of the appointment of four Foundation Governors in September 2010. 

The Court of Appeal judgment, which upholds the ruling of the High Court in November 2010, shows that the diocese has acted responsibly and within the law. The diocese being the trustee and provider of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, it is for the Archbishop to appoint Foundation Governors as a majority. Foundation Governors have the specific responsibility of preserving and developing the Catholic character of the school, as judged by the Diocesan Bishop.  The Appeal Court has confirmed that the Diocese of Westminster has fulfilled this responsibility properly.

Like the Appeal Court, we regret the wasteful court action brought against the Archbishop of Westminster by a number of parents associated with the Vaughan Parents Action Group. The diocese tried everything it could to avoid the recent court action, short of conceding the important points of principle. The diocese offered to ask our Director of Education to step down from the Governing Body and to appoint a current parent of the school to the Governing Body. We further offered to shoulder our share of the costs of the action, even though it was not initiated by us. All these offers were rejected and the diocese had no choice but to defend itself in court.

Support for Governing Body

It is important to note that the Vaughan Parents Action Group is not supported by the School. It is not to be confused with the Vaughan Parents Association, which is the recognised parents association. Rather it is a campaign whose leaders include two former Governors of the school and the former Headmaster.

 After two court hearings, both of which have found in favour of the Diocese of Westminster, it is now time for all involved in the life of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School to look to the future. The Governing Body is continuing in its task of governing the school and has now established admission criteria for the 2012 2013 academic year. In the light of this judgment and the progress being made by the Governing Body, I encourage parents who have the best interest of the school in mind to give their support to the Governing Body in its important work.


The Court of Appeal Court, case No: C1/2010/2944, confirms that the School Governance Regulations and the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial Schools Instrument of Government do not require the appointment of two parents of current pupils of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School as Foundation Governors. Rather, the Appeal Court found that two foundation governors should be eligible in the broad sense to be parent governors.

That means that at least two Foundation Governors must either be parents of current or former pupils of the school, or have children of or below compulsory school age. The Diocese of Westminster appointed two such qualified Foundation Governors in 2010 and the Appeal Court ruling confirms that the appointments are legal.

Current parents will continue to be fully represented on the Governing Body of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School as elected parent governors. The Church teaches that parents are the primary educators of their children, and therefore they are important partners in the schools provided by the Church to assist them in this duty. Legislation provides that a Governing Body the size of that at the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School can have between one and five elected parent governors. The Diocesan Bishop insisted that the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, as with all schools in the Diocese, have the maximum number of elected Parent Governors, which in this case is five.

The Appeal Court, again upholding the decision of the High Court in November 2010, also found that the appointment of the dioceses Director of Education as a Foundation Governor is entirely legal. As Director of Education for the Diocese of Westminster,  Mr Barber has overseen a continuing improvement to the high standard of education provided in the dioceses schools.  According to Ofsted, 85% of maintained schools in the diocese are judged to be Good or Outstanding, as opposed to a national average of 65%.

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