Plan to convert Islington’s Catholic schools into academy group dropped due to ‘lack of interest’

Cllr Joe Calouri, education chief of Islington Council. Photo by Em Fitzgerald

Cllr Joe Calouri, education chief of Islington Council. Photo by Em Fitzgerald - Credit: Archant

Plans for a raft of Catholic schools to form an academy trust have been kicked into the long grass due to a lack of interest from those consulted.

A town hall meeting had been due to take place this evening to debate a proposal put forward by the Diocese of Westminster to create a trust made up of Islington and Camden’s Catholic schools.

In Islington, Archway’s St Aloysius College was consulted, along with Blessed Sacrament, Christ the King, Sacred Heart, St Peter and St Paul, St Joan of Arc, St John Evangelist and St Joseph’s primary schools.

Cllr Joe Calouri, the council’s education chief, cancelled the meeting because none of the schools asked expressed an interest in joining the “Catholic Academy Trust”.

“I certainly think this is a good outcome for Islington’s Catholic schools,” he said. “In Camden and Islington especially there is a tight-knit family of schools, which our Catholic schools are a big part of. So why change it?”

Leader of the council Richard Watts and National Education Union joint general secretary Kevin Courtney were among those due to speak in the meeting, which was arranged by Cllr Calouri to gauge the opinion of parents.

“We always thought it would be best to have a big debate about the pros and cons of academisation,” Cllr Calouri added.

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“There was the danger of an incomplete process taking place if consultation was just taking place school by school.

“It’s possible that the diocese could return to the idea, but I would certainly call for another public debate if that was the case. I look forward to working with the diocese and our local Catholic schools in the future.”

The diocese had floated the idea of the borough’s schools converting into academies in a document published in September of last year called “Families of schools: implementation of Catholic academy trusts”.

It was thought that by grouping the schools together they could provide more financial security and improve the structures in place in case any of them ran into difficulty.

A spokesman for the diocese said: “We have consulted in Islington, and in all our other proposed families of schools, and at this time Islington schools have decided not to pursue this option.”