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All Catholic schools could become academies if plans by the diocese go ahead

PUBLISHED: 14:00 15 November 2018

All Catholic schools in Barking and Dagenham could become academies. Picture: Barry Batchelor/ PA Images

All Catholic schools in Barking and Dagenham could become academies. Picture: Barry Batchelor/ PA Images

PA Archive/PA Images

The Diocese of Brentwood has announced plans to academise all Roman Catholic schools in Barking and Dagenham.

Bishop of Brentwood Alan Williams announced in a letter that he had “initiated the expansion and development of Catholic, deanery-based multi-academy trusts (CATs) across the diocese”.

This process has “already begun” and will take about three years to complete, he said.

This would mean that Catholic schools in the diocese - which includes Barking and Dagenham, Newham, Redbridge, Havering and Walthamstow as well as Essex - will come under the control of the Good Shepherd Catholic Trust,

As academies, the schools would become independent of the council and receive funding directly from the Department of Education.

Schools in Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham will come under the control of the Good Shepherd Catholic Trust, which already oversees two schools in Ilford. Three further CATs are to be set up to oversee schools across Havering, Waltham Forest and Newham.

Among the numerous reasons cited for the change is that “the direct funding of academies has reduced the capacity of local authorities” to support schools.

Cllr Evelyn Carpenter, cabinet member for education, said she was “extremely concerned” about the proposals.

She said: “Our Catholic schools have been well supported by the council for decades.

“I am totally opposed to the break-up of our education service, the fracturing of our family of schools and increased fragmentation of education provision which is not in the interests of our residents.”

She added that she had spoken to the borough’s six catholic schools - five primary and one secondary - about the proposals and that any changes would “damage and destabilise” the education of almost 3,000 pupils.

Dominic Byrne from the National Education Union said that becoming an academy was “irrevocable” and that there was “no going back”.

He added: “What we want is to have a meeting with the Bishop to discuss this.”

Mr Byrne also called for teachers and parents to be consulted over the plans.

The Diocese of Brentwood has been contacted for comment.


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