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Four Catholic schools become academies

By on Friday, 2 March 2012

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.”

  • Jason Clifford

    This is very good news. It paves the way for Catholic schools to be able to retain a genuine Christian identity and remain faithful to the truth taught by the Catholic Church.

    In a society that increasingly wants to use schools to force social engineering upon us through the teaching of ideologies of false equality and closedness to God and life our schools need to be able to counter this with authentic truth.

  • Anonymous

    There can only be one truth. If any religions at all are true, then only one can be, since all other religions differ from it. You write as if your religion is the one true religion, but you cannot prove that it is. It is OK to say that you believe it is true, or that many people believe it is true, but it is a lie to say that it is definitely true.

    Schools that lie to innocent, trusting, children are abusing those children intellectually. Some children will see through the lie immediately, or at a later time, but some never do. Various techniques are used to try to fix the lie in the child’s mind. For example, a child may be told that God answers prayers, and this may be reinforced by repeated collective worship, the exhibition of adults praying, bible stories about prayer, etc. If the child believes that prayer works, there may be many negative consequences. Accomodating the belief that prayer works with the observation that it doesn’t impairs clarity of thought. Too much reliance may be placed on prayer in critical situations. Much time may be spent in fruitless prayer. And so on. Prayer is just one aspect of religion. Other aspects can have negative consequences too. Much damage can result.

    And you say this is good news!

  • Jonathan Craven

  • Anonymous

     You say that Catholicism is true. How do you know? What makes you so sure that a Catholic education is superior to an education in any other religion? Considering the power of childhood influences, I can understand why you might believe deeply that Catholic education is superior and that Catholicism is true. A devout Moslem would no doubt support his religion with equal conviction. Since I am neither a Moslem nor a Catholic, how am I to decide which is true?

    Science and reason provide paths by which claims can be independently verified. For example, I do not have to accept on trust the value of pi (circumference divided by diameter), nor that it is an irrational number. I can verify that for myself, and someone on the other side of the world will arrive at the same answer if they do not make a mistake. (So too would a being on another planet.) That is a example of truth. (The Bible, by the way, gets the ratio wrong, so the Bible is not all true and to tell a child otherwise would be a lie.)

    Catholicism claims that we cannot know God by the light of reason alone. Yet it has no way of establishing the integrity of a revelation. I observe Catholics giving different reasons why God caused a particular natural disaster and I cannot distinguish this from stuff being made up. You have no way of knowing which version, if any, is true (though all seem far-fetched to me). Catholic doctrine has been proven wrong in the past (such as in the case of heliocentrism). Scientific evidence (such as on the efficacy of prayer) suggests that it is still wrong. Your statement that Catholicism is true is merely a statement of religious faith held in spite of the evidence. Most people acquire religious faith through childhood indoctrination (as demonstrated by the geographical distribution of believers in different religions).

    Schools should attempt to teach a child how to think rationally and they should attempt to convey the most important areas of the latest knowledge (including knowledge about the phenomenon of religion). Deliberate miseducation is immoral.

  • Jason Clifford

     Your first two sentences are absolutely true. There is only one truth in religion. Yes I write confident that the Roman Catholic faith is the only true religion. By true religion I mean the only religion in which the fullness of divine relevation consists.

    It’s true that I cannot prove to you that it is true but that’s OK – I don’t need to.

    It is however absolutely false to make the jump from stating that I cannot prove it to be true to you to claiming that it is a lie to say it is definitely true. There is no lie in my stating the truth as I know it is the truth. That you don’t makes no difference to the truth of my statement.

    Schools that play an active role in passing on to children the true faith, in accordance with the teaching of the Church and the wishes of the parents of those children are not conducting abuse at all – in fact it would be abuse to fail to pass on the faith to a child who has been called into Jesus Christ’s Church.

    A child who believes in prayer is a child you have gained a wisdom no amount of human intelligence can ever approach. We know that prayer “works” because we understand what prayer is and is not. Prayer is a humble supplication before God who already knows what we need and what we don’t need – indeed what would harm us. We pray to God knowing that He may say “No” and that it is perfectly right if He does – a father does not give his child a scorpion instead of an egg or a stone instead of bread!

    Those who come to true faith are on a path to total reliance on God and in that to true happiness. This is never damage – even though the reponse of the world to the appearance of true faith is always a violent rejection but when that happens it is the evil of the world that causes harm and not faith.

    Yes, I absolutely say it is Good News!

  • Anonymous

     What do you mean by “a child who has been called into Jesus Christ’s Church“? Do you mean one who has at least one Catholic parent and must therefore not be allowed to make up its own mind about what to believe after mature consideration of the evidence, but must be indoctrinated at an age early enough to make escape from Catholicism that much more difficult? How can letting the child decide be abuse? Do you fear that, even if the evidence is presented honestly, the child will make the ‘wrong’ decision (when you are so sure that you made the ‘right’ decision)?

    Those of very different religions could make parallel arguments to those that you advance. Do you think that the taxpayer should should also provide schools to cater for those religions in order to avoid the ‘abuse’ that you describe? Of course, as these schools are not limited to teaching facts but also teach beliefs, separate schools would be required for each contradictory set of beliefs. Many parents would move house accordingly, creating or enforcing sectarianism. That is what you seem to be suggesting should happen, despite the lessons of history.

    You say “A child who believes in prayer is a child you have gained a wisdom no amount of human intelligence can ever approach“. This is a new kind of ‘wisdom’ is it? A kind of wisdom that is obviously no use whatsoever in guiding the Vatican on what to do about child sexual abuse by priests. The less of that kind of wisdom, the better.

    If “Prayer is a humble supplication before God who already knows what we need and what we don’t need“, why bother praying?

    If “Those who come to true faith are on a path to total reliance on God “, this is extremely dangerous, given that the chances of a God existing are, at best, infinitesimal. I have heard American politicians say that we need not take action to mitigate climate change because it’s all in the hands of God who will take care of us! (And the more violent storms, droughts, etc. seem to be dismissed knowingly as all part of God’s plan, punishment for secularism, or other such nonsense!)

  • Teresa

    I would like to be able to agree with Jason Clifford that “This is very good news. ”
    However the actions of the CES in recent years ( Connexions, appointment of Greg Pope, Vaughan debacle etc) makes me very wary about any proposal which gives MORE power to political  idealogues like  Paul Barber.
    Catholic education is finished unless we have people in charge who promote Catholic teaching rather than  left wing ideology .

  • Jason Clifford

     > What do you mean by “a child who has been called into Jesus Christ’s Church”?

    I mean exactly what I stated. These children are called by God into the Catholic Church, founded by Jesus Christ and guaranteed by the Holy Spirit.

    We’re not members of His Church because we elected to be so but rather because God chose us as His elect for His reasons.

    So called “mature consideration” is really just deceived thinking, clouded by the lies of the Devil and sin.

    The wisdom of prayer is older than any human learning. Yes it is this wisdom that is guiding the Vatican on what to do about those who abused children. It was this wisdom that led the then Cardinal Ratzinger to radically change the way the Church investigates and deals with claims of abuse and, as Pope Benedict, to further guide the Church to face up to the reality of such abuse and the need for real healing.

    Total reliance on God does not exclude understanding our own responsibility to act in accordance with His will and our standing as His stewards of creation.