Sancta Familia Catholic Academy Trust
Sancta Familia Catholic Academy Trust
Thank you for your interest in the proposal to establish Sancta Familia Catholic Academy Trust. We hope that you find the consultation information provided helpful, however if you have any queries or would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us using the feedback form available on the 'Contact Us'
An application has recently been made to the Department for Education to establish a new Catholic Academy Trust (CAT) serving Catholic schools in Merton, Sutton and Croydon. There are currently 15 schools that propose to join Sancta Familia CAT, and these are:
•St Philomena’s Catholic High School for Girls (11-18)
•St Mary’s RC Infants School
•St Mary’s RC Junior School
•St Elphege’s RC Infants School
•St Elphege’s RC Junior School
•Regina CoeliCatholic Primary School
•St Cecilia’s Catholic Primary School
•Ursuline High School Wimbledon (11-18)
•Wimbledon College (11-18)
• Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School
•St John Fisher RC Primary School
•St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Primary School
•St Teresa’s Catholic Primary School
•SS Peter and Paul Catholic Primary School
•St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Wimbledon
The schools proposing to join Sancta Familia plan to join in two tranches. The first tranche of schools consists of: St John Fisher RC Primary School, the Federation of St Elphege’s and Regina Coeli, St Philomena’s Catholic High School for Girls, Ursuline High School Wimbledon, and St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Wimbledon.
The governing bodies of the schools proposing to join Sancta Familia in tranche 1 are now consulting with their individual school communities on the question of whether they should convert from Voluntary Aided (VA) schools to academies.
Academies are state-funded independent schools. They are free from Local Authority control and are run by a not-for-profit organisation called a Multi-Academy Trust.
A Multi-Academy Trust is a charitable company limited by guarantee and is responsible for running the academy. It has three layers of governance: members, who are best viewed as guardians of the constitution; directors, who are legally responsible for the running of the Trust and the local governors who are responsible for monitoring standards in the individual schools in the Trust.
Catholic schools are Voluntary Aided (VA) not Voluntary Controlled (VC) schools. The governors of Catholic VA schools are the employers of the staff, are able to set the length of a school day and term times, following consultation with parents. The decision to admit children to the school is already made by the Governing board and not the Local Authority (LA). All of these will be unchanged when a Catholic school becomes an academy. The schools proposing to join Sancta Familia have a good relationship with the relevant LAs and it is envisaged that this will continue as LA’s continue to have statutory responsibility for children with additional needs (SEND) and for the overall planning of school places in their local area.
The academies programme has continued to progress under successive Governments since 2006, and the current Government has reiterated that it would like all schools to convert to academy status, joining a strong MAT. The Archdiocese of Southwark has also made clear its intentions for all Catholic schools to join one of a number of local Catholic Academy Trusts.
A move to academy status would not directly impact children and young people on a day-to-day basis. The school uniform, school day, term dates, class/year organisation, and lessons will not change.
It is intended that over time, the advantages of academy status will have a positive impact on pupils and students through, for example: sharing of good practice and upskilling teachers and support staff; financial savings on back office expenditure (including through shared purchasing where economies of scale can be secured) invested into teaching and learning and enhancements to the school site; opportunities to collaborate on projects across schools within the CAT; appointments to shared positions across schools to provide additional support to pupils (e.g. posts like Education Welfare Officer etc.).
It is true to say that the schools already work in partnership successfully, and the schools do not need to be academies to do this. However, becoming an academy and joining a CAT makes partnership working with the schools in the Trust easier under one legal entity. For example, joint resourcing decisions can be made, joint specific training sessions can be undertaken across a number of schools, we can make purchases or commission services as a group of schools rather than individually to secure better deals. There will also be in place a small CAT central team focused on supporting all the schools in the CAT. This central team will work very closely with the schools and will come to know each school’s individual strengths and weaknesses and will be able to quickly implement support, knowledge and capacity from within the Trust, or externally, allowing all the schools to continually improve.
The Governing Bodies of each school proposing to join Sancta Familia CAT have been very clear that the individual unique character of each school must be protected. This has been a common theme throughout the development of plans for the CAT and will continue to be a priority.
The intention to establish the CAT is not to move away from all the things that have been successful for each individual school, rather, the schools and Archdiocese wish to use the academy model to enhance provision for children and young people.
As an academy, there are a number of additional responsibilities placed on the school in terms of financial management, the school estate and reporting. It is expected that on a day-to-day basis the pupils and their parents and carers, teachers and staff will not notice the difference when we become an academy.
It is intended that the additional responsibilities will be covered by the small central team at CAT level to ensure that there is minimal impact in school. For example, an Accounting Officer (the CEO or Catholic Senior Executive Leader) and a Chief Finance Officer will be appointed to ensure compliance with company and charity law on behalf of the Trust Board.
The schools proposing to join Sancta Familia CAT in tranche 1 are undertaking formal consultation under the Academies Act (2010), whereby they are establishing whether there is any significant objection to the plans to convert their school to academy status.
At the end of the consultation period, each school will be provided with an individual, comprehensive consultation report which includes all the feedback received from stakeholders in relation to their own school, as well as the context more widely across all tranche 1 schools. The Governing Body will use this to make a decision on whether to move forward with academy conversion, which will involve developing the legal documentation required.
The consultation period for tranche 1 schools will end on 11th September 2023.
To voice any thoughts or opinions, please click below to find our online consultation form on our contact page