Councillor demands consultation on Catholic 'super academy' plan for Leeds

Councillor Colin Campbell said recent controversy over Prince Henry’s Grammar School’s academy conversion meant school governors should tread cautiously

Councillor Colin Campbell said recent controversy over Prince Henry’s Grammar School’s academy conversion meant school governors should tread cautiously

First published in Local news Wharfedale Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

An Otley councillor is urging the governors of Catholic schools to fully consult parents over plans to form a “super academy”.

Catholic primary schools across Leeds, and the high schools they ‘feed’ into, are currently investigating teaming up to form trust academies.

The move could result in primaries like St Joseph’s, in Otley, and its nearest Catholic high school, St Mary’s at Menston, becoming part of a grouping that would no longer be under local authority control.

The Diocese of Leeds says the change is being considered to ensure its ‘family of schools’ clusters can continue to operate successfully under the Govern-ment’s pro-academy education policy.

But Councillor Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley and Yeadon) said the recent controversy over Prince Henry’s Grammar School’s academy conversion meant school governors should tread cautiously.

He said: “Given the public outcry about Prince Henry’s, I would hope that the governors of each school would have learned the lesson about the value of consultation with parents. This must be their decision taken with the best interests of the children in mind.”

Diocese press officer, John Grady, said: “There’s a massive amount of consultation going to take place, first of all with the school governors at each school, then with the staff, then with the parents and then there has to be a consultation across the whole circle of the family of schools.

“The trustees would then have to see whether it was a feasible proposition and one they would support, and could then ask the Education Secretary for permission to become an academy.”

Currently, most Catholic schools are voluntary aided and receive the majority of their running costs from the Government, via Leeds City Council.

Mr Grady said the possible switch was not being driven by financial reasons.

He said: “The Government seems determined to stop local authorities ‘meddling’ in education and their preferred method of achieving that is academies. We’ve got to take control of our education and the Government’s saying this is the best way of doing that.”

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