It is the vision of the Archdiocese of Birmingham for all Catholic schools to covert to academy status. It is essential that Catholic Schools retain their unique identity and with the continued changes in the educational landscape it means that for the collective of Catholic Schools to do nothing is not a viable option.
What is being proposed?
The Governing Bodies of:
Voted and agreed to proceed with the vision for their school to join the existing and established St Teresa of Calcutta Multi-Academy Company (MAC). The MAC was formed in May 2019 and current consists of three schools: Holy Souls Catholic Primary School, Acocks Green, Archbishop Ilsley Catholic Secondary School and Sixth Form, Acocks Green and Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School, Small Heath. The MAC has a named Accounting Officer and Chief Finance Officer. Both work in a growing central team that also consists of a Strategic ICT lead, a Senior Accounts Officer and a designated member of staff responsible for the development of the MAC website and academy identity. The Academy boasts a skilled and experienced Board of Directors with backgrounds both within and outside of education.
When considering a significant change, it is important that we take into account the views of all of our stakeholders, primarily, parents, staff and parishioners. This consideration is based on our aim to achieve the best for our schools, students, staff and the Catholic community. The MAC will continue with the Church’s mission, to make Christ known to all people, placing Christ and the teaching of the Catholic Church at the centre of people’s lives.
What is an Academy?
An Academy is a state-funded school which operates independently within the requirements of national codes of practice for state schools. Unlike a state school, however, it receives its funding directly from central government rather than through a local authority.
What is a Multi-Academy Company?
The Catholic Education Service of England and Wales (CES) considered whether conversion could take place whilst safeguarding the unique identity of Catholic schools and how all our schools could remain supported and not isolated. The MAC will be set up using the documentation agreed between the Diocese of Birmingham and the Department for Education. The essential principles of the model are that no schools are left behind, no external business sponsorship is involved and there will be no change to the distinctive nature of any of our schools.
Diocesan policy is to encourage all Catholic Schools to convert to an Academy. By forming a Catholic MAC, we are preserving, the unique nature of the formative education provided in Catholic schools.
We see significant advantages of working more collaboratively within the structured framework of a MAC, which will allow for:
Schools to develop teaching and learning between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 to improve our children’s transition between primary and secondary schools. This is a known area of concern nationally and by working closer together, we can smooth the path for our pupils ensuring a more positive start to their secondary education.
Greater co-operation between the primary and secondary schools through staff training together, sharing ideas and introducing best practise across the MAC. This will benefit the pupils throughout their education within our family of schools.
Sharing of teaching, learning and resources across the schools within the MAC, supporting schools in the teaching of subjects such as science.
Maintaining stability within the schools through Leadership training for staff. There is a shortage of school leaders, more so in Catholic schools. We see this as a positive step in maintaining a continuity of staff for the future of the MAC.
Develop and safeguard Catholic education for our pupils from the age of 4 through to 19 with a clear path way and provision established from early years through to the end of sixth form.
Negotiate through our greater purchasing power as a group of schools, improved trading terms with our suppliers, ensuring any additional money is invested in teaching and learning resources for the benefit of the pupils.
What will change?
We have a vision for Catholic education that goes beyond individual schools. We want to change our perception from 'my school’ to 'our schools’. The challenge is:
“How can we share our gifts and talents to ensure that the formative education for our children is 'Outstanding’?”
Governing Bodies of Voluntary Aided Catholic Schools already manage their school finances and have responsibility for employment and admissions. Under the Diocesan model, Governance of our schools would remain largely unchanged. There will be an overarching Board of Directors who will set strategy and are responsible for all outcomes, educational as well as financial. Each school still has a Local Governing Body. The Local Governing Body will have detailed knowledge of their respective school, parish and communities. It is to those bodies that parent and staff representatives are elected and make a significant contribution.
Funding for maintained schools is delivered through LAs. They retain an amount for some support services such as legal support and also sell other service packages, like financial management, to the schools. All of this money will come directly to the individual schools, who then have the opportunity to purchase services from the LA or other suppliers. The Diocesan Multi-Academy Company model will enable our schools to share resources and services more effectively and to provide consistent and continuous support for young people in keeping with our ethos and mission.
Government provide funding of £25,000 per school towards the costs of setting up the MAC, covering formalities such as legal costs and new finance systems should they be required.
What will not change?
Catholic Ethos and individual school identity will remain and the schools will continue to look and feel the same.
Special Educational Needs provision is a statutory requirement for all schools and we will continue to work with parents and the LAs in ensuring this provision is met.
Admissions criteria for each school will remain unchanged.
School names and uniforms will not change. Working closely together does not mean changing our individual identities that have been established over many years and recognised in our local communities.
The school day will continue as before with no changes to start and finish times unless the Headteacher and in conjunction with the School Committee feel that a change is necessary to improve educational provision and outcomes.
Ofsted will continue to inspect schools. Ofsted plan to carry out more MAC wide inspections.
The Diocese will still hold the schools to account.
The Curriculum in an Academy is not bound by the prescriptions of the national curriculum; however, schools will continue to offer a broad and balanced curriculum. Directors are conscious that this freedom could offer an additional safeguard from external pressures, which may not align with Catholic teaching.
Local partnerships with other local schools and the LAs will continue. That commitment to a wider working partnership will remain and we will continue our work in an atmosphere of mutual support.
Finally we feel it is important to emphasise the distinctiveness of the Archdiocese of Birmingham’s Multi-Academy Company proposal. It is underpinned by a commitment to work for the good of all diocesan schools, to ensure that none are left in a vulnerable position and our Catholic identity and ethos are maintained and strengthened. Furthermore, our schools will maintain their own identities together with their commitment to working with others within and beyond our local area for the benefit of all concerned. The freedoms, with the resources, that Academy status will bring would be major factors in enabling our schools to continue to provide the best possible education for our young people and to serve our Catholic community.
How will the consultation work?
This significant change has already been communicated in each school and officially released into the public domain on Friday 17th July.
We are now formally consulting with parents, staff, parishioners and other community stakeholders from 2nd September – 30th September 2020.
How can I make my views known?
It is important that during this process, we full adhere to all current safety regulations in response to Covid19.
At any stage during the consultation process, you can submit your views in writing to the Headteacher or by email to: MACconsultation@holytrc.bham.sch.uk
All questions will be responded to during this process by the Accounting Officer supported by Headteachers where appropriate.
Please express an interest via email address above if you would like to be involved in a Zoom Webinar that will take place close to the end of September. A date will be confirmed once numbers and demand is clearer.
Any views expressed will be captured and included in the final considerations of the Governing Bodies.
Colin Crehan (Accounting Officer)
21st August 2020