Leaders of Catholic schools "under pressure" from church to become multi-academy trusts

School leaders from Catholic schools across the Black Country and Staffordshire are "coming under pressure" to give up their independence and join a multi-academy trust.

The Archbishop of Birmingham Bernard Longley wants schools to merge into multi-academy trusts
The Archbishop of Birmingham Bernard Longley wants schools to merge into multi-academy trusts

The Archdiocese of Birmingham, which has schools across the Midlands including Corpus Christi Primary, Wolverhampton, Cardinal Griffin College, Cannock, Stuart Bathurst Secondary, Wednesbury and St Thomas Moore School, Willenhall, wants to schools to join a multi-academy trust.

Governors and school leaders all met to discuss the situation this week.

Rob Kelsall, national secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: "We will not stand-by and see school leaders bullied. Governors across the Archdiocese of Birmingham have been placed under intolerable pressure.

"Becoming an academy can be a positive step for some schools. But it is only the governing body and leaders of a school that can truly understand if joining a multi academy trust will bring benefit to pupils. Voluntary academisation will bring with it commitment and success."

Mr Kelsall warned the Archdiocese of being heavy handed with school leaders and governors.

He said: "Compulsion backed up by threats is counterproductive and doomed to failure. This is not the way to look after the young people at school.

"The education secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, has categorically stated that he will not set an arbitrary date for schools to convert to academy status and that he supports a system with a variety of different school types. It appears that the Diocese in Birmingham is going against that direction and ploughing on belligerently to force through academisation for both for voluntary aided schools and those who had already established their own MAT."

He added: "The Diocese are effectively ruling by diktat and it has to stop. Such behaviour has no place in a modern education service. Our plea is for the Catholic Education Service, which represents the Bishops' national education policy, to intervene before this situation escalates further."

The Archdiocese is set to push ahead with the conversions, in its latest newsletter, a spokesman said: "We look forward to working with all of those schools that have not yet joined a MAC, as well as the MACS that are seeking to grow and merge.

"The DES team are currently supporting a number of schools across the Archdiocese with their plans to convert in the current academic year. Our staff will be in contact in due course to arrange meetings to help governors to move forward, in accordance with the wishes of the Archbishop."

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