Diocese of Westminster announces formation of academy trusts and says primary schools are to convert status too

Four schools in the Diocese of Westminster have become academies.

This week John Henry Newman school in Stevenage, Nicholas Breakspear school in St Albans, Douay Martyrs in Hillingdon and St Michael’s, Garston, converted to academy status, which means while they can now operate outside local authority control with more say over their finances, curriculum and teachers’ pay.

The Diocese of Westminster Academy Trust is to be open to any school in the diocese. It is designed to support the governing bodies of individual academies in retaining all the freedoms they enjoyed as voluntary-aided schools along with any additional freedoms that result from no longer being maintained by the local authority.

Auxiliary Bishop John Sherrington, chairman of the diocese’s Education Commission, said: “I welcome the creation of the academy trusts of the Diocese of Westminster, which have been created in partnership with schools in the diocese. These collaborative academy trust structures will allow our Catholic voluntary academies to provide an excellent education within our diocesan family of schools. Rooted in the Catholic vision of education they will also allow for the development of solidarity and structured relationships between our schools.”

Paul Barber, director of the diocese’s Education Service, said: “The development of these unique new academy trusts has been made possible by the hard work and dedication of the head teachers, governors and staff of the schools. I am certain that their clear vision and willingness to work for the good of Catholic education is a great sign of things to come.”

In a statement the diocese said that another academy trust, called the All Saints’ Academy Trust, was being piloted. It is designed for a group of academies in a particular area that want to collaborate more closely.

Eddie Conway, head teacher of St Michael’s Catholic High School in Garston, Hertfordshire, said: “I am delighted that we are converting with numerous other Catholic schools under the Diocese of Westminster Academy Trust and believe that this model will give us an even greater opportunity to develop our distinctive Catholic identity and collaborate with other Catholic schools in a mutually beneficial way.”