CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Catholic schools look to break free from council control

National Union of Teachers want parents to oppose academy switch

25 July, 2017 — By Tom Foot

CATHOLIC schools in Camden and Islington are looking to break away from council management to form an academy trust. But opponents have warned that the move by the Diocese of Westminster will harm Camden’s famous “family” of schools, with unions urging parents to protest.

Under the proposals, up to 19 schools would no longer answer to the Town Hall and instead be brought together in a “multi-academy trust (MAT)”, handing the Diocese greater flexibility over how the schools are run and money is spent.

It has said it wants to help “vulnerable” schools and “strengthen Catholic mission”.

But Gerald Clark, branch secretary of Camden NUT (National Union of Teachers), said: “We would encourage parents and governors at any of those primary schools included in this proposal to campaign against the multi-academy trust proposals. MATs lose all accountability to their community, which is what makes Camden schools so good.”

Mr Clark added that the system could work in parts of the country where schools could become isolated but there was no reason to do it in Camden, adding: “All Camden schools are part of our family of schools, where there is a lot of mutual support provided by Camden Learning [a schools support partnership] in conjunction with the local authority.”

However, John Paul Morrison, director of education at the Diocese, said: “There’s [currently] no consistency in the support for our schools. We want to protect, secure and develop Catholic education, and to work more in collaboration with each other.” He added: “We’d have far more control over finances and future planning of our schools.”

Council schools chief Councillor Angela Mason said that while “it is possible that Camden Cath­olic schools could pull away. I would say we are better together.”

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