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Bishops ‘to discuss academies and free schools’ at plenary meeting

By on Friday, 22 October 2010

Education Secretary Michael Gove at the City of London Academy. The school is one of 200 academies already operating in England        Photo: PA

Education Secretary Michael Gove at the City of London Academy. The school is one of 200 academies already operating in England Photo: PA

The bishops of England and Wales will address the issue of Catholic academies and free schools at their plenary meeting next month, according to the head of the Catholic Education Service (CES).

Oona Stannard, chief executive and director of the CES, said: “It is likely that the issue of academies and free schools will be a major item on the agenda of the bishops’ conference for their November meeting.”

In a letter to Catholic head teachers Miss Stannard said she had had a number of meetings with Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, about Catholic schools becoming academies.

But she said the decision of whether to turn voluntary-aided schools into academies would be taken by the bishops alone.

She said it would involve “deliberations about the mission of our schools and our vision for education”.

She added: “Current feedback from bishops indicates that they are very mindful of the notion of a family of Catholic schools, also of the relationship with local authorities, and of any impact on other schools.

“At the same time, however, careful consideration is being given to the benefits that could accompany becoming an academy,” Miss Stannard said.

In her letter Miss Stannard said that new academy schools, if oversubscribed, would be forced to select half of their pupils without any reference to faith.

But a spokesman for the Department for Education said this applied only to free schools and to academy schools “starting from scratch”. Catholic schools converting to academy status would not be forced to change their admissions criteria.

  • H Pratt

    What happens if an existing school becomes an academy and a few years down the line, is destroyed through unforeseen circumstances? Will the new academy which hopefully would be rebuilt, then be required to accept only half the number of catholics?

  • Ang

    I would like to express my concerns on catholic schools becoming academies, I feel that it is very important that Bishops of the church make the decision, but would hope that they would not just listen to the senior leaderships of schools, but engage students,staff, Governors and the wider communities to give their veiws.

  • mrpants

    I have no trust whatsoever in the CES. Perhaps it is time the church looked at its own “quangos” and got rid of some starting with this one.